1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Card Sells for Record $12.6 Million

The card breaks the record for most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold.

DENVER, CO - July 10, 2021: The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card from the collection of Marshall Fogel arrives at McGregor Square's Rally Hotel. The card is graded PSA 10 Gem Mint and will be displayed as part of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game's Hall of Legends exhibit in Denver, CO. (Photo by Matt Dirksen/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images)

The “finest known example” of Mickey Mantle’s fabled 1952 Topps baseball card sold for $12.6 million with Heritage Auctions on Saturday, nearly doubling the record set by the $7.25 million sale of a Honus Wagner T206 card just a few weeks ago through Goldin Auctions.

Sports memorabilia–especially the collectibles worth six or seven figures–have continued to appreciate, as many investors see them as alternative assets. The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle is, ironically, not even the Hall of Famer’s rookie card–that title belongs to his 1951 Bowman card–but the legendary card is referred to by many as “Baseball’s Mona Lisa”.

A PSA 9 version of the card sold for $5.2 million in early 2021, highlighting both the appreciation of these multi-million dollar investments as well as the implied value of having what is believed to be the most fine version of one of the hobby’s crown jewels.

Much of the fascination with the 1952 Topps set comes from the hobby-altering details that the cards offered, setting the standard for future sets. 1952 was also the first year that Topps produced baseball cards in an effort to sell more gum.

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The ’52 Topps set was the first to feature colored portrait photographs of the players as well as their statistics and biographies on the back.

Image by PSA

PSA describes the card as, “the anchor of the most important postwar baseball set ever made.” Even versions of the card in rough condition will fetch big numbers, with a PSA 1 selling for just under $60,000 earlier this month as well.

Sports memorabilia records have been difficult to hang onto, with one ridiculously rare piece outdoing the other seemingly every few months. Since the $5.2 million sale of the 1952 Mantle in early 2021, a graded SGC 2 Honus Wagner T206 sold for $6.6 million before the aforementioned SGC 3 Wagner grabbed $7.25 million at auction exactly a year later earlier this month.

Several months ago, Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” jersey worn during the 1986 World Cup Quarterfinal match topped any baseball card sale at the time.

According to a Market Decipher report, the sports memorabilia market was worth $26 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach as $227.2 billion by 2032.

Not only is money continuously being pumped into vintage cards, but we have also seen Mike Trout’s rarest card sell for nearly $4 million in 2020 and one of MLB’s youngest players Julio Rodriguez fetching nearly $300,000 at auction earlier this month.

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