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Mickey Mantle Card Hits All-Time Record, But…

September 15, 2022
1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card

Mickey Mantle

Heritage’s recent Summer Platinum Night Sports auction was all over the news for just one lot. The Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps baseball card set an amazing new record for sports memorabilia, but what about the rest of the sale? Did it live up to the hype? 

As I glanced through the auction results, there were 1,374 items offered for sale, of which only 45 did not sell. With nearly 97% of lots sold, I’d say that’s pretty good! But, as I looked over the lots, all the relevant information as to estimates had been removed, making it difficult to evaluate the true success of the sale. Yes, there were some great results, and with a little help from my sports memorabilia guru (thanks, GB!) I uncovered lots that didn’t make the news. The estimates may have been a bit aggressive, so the results didn’t hit their mark.

Tom Brady football card #144

Tom Brady

I am sure that Heritage had high expectations for a 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Championship Ticket rookie card, which was graded by BGS NM-MT+ 8.5 (#67/100). However, it failed to find a buyer. The card was estimated to make more than $2M, which seemed on point considering results for a similar Tom Brady card. This past year, these cards have made record prices of $1.5M, $2.2M, and $3.1M.  If you’re interested in the card, Heritage will offer it again sometime this fall.

A 1952 Bowman Mickey Mantle #101 PSA Mint 9 didn’t make the cut either, failing to make it past its $500K reserve. Interestingly, the next lot featured the same card with an SGC Mint 9 grading, and it sold for $300K. I guess the estimate was just too high for the first example?

Many items sold far below their estimates, including a 1909-11 T206 Polar Bear Ty Cobb (Red Portrait) PSA NM-MT 8, with a rare advertisement on the back for Polar Bear tobacco. It was estimated to make $500K+ and sold for $260K ($312K w/p). A 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #149 with a PSA NM 7 was expected to make $200K+ and sold for half, just $100K ($120K w/p). They were hoping for $250K+ for a 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax Rookie #123 SGC Mint 9 card, but it managed to make only $120K ($144K w/p). And a rare edition of the 2003 Netpro International Serena Williams (Court Authentic Series A) #2A PSA NM-MT 8, Auto 10 – #’d 54/100, didn’t come close to the $200+ estimate when it slammed down at $55K ($66K w/p).

Oh and about the record breaking card – that Mickey Mantle card which was graded by SGC MINT 9.5+. It was expected to make $10M+ and just beat the estimate when it hammered at $10.5M ($12.6 w/p), making it the most expensive sports memorabilia ever sold at auction. But according to a commentary video by Vintage Breaks, there may be an issue with the card’s condition. The card was in a brick screw-down case that is no longer used for collectible cards as it can damage the edges and flatten the card. In addition, a bigger issue can arise when the card is removed from the case. Cards put in these cases can sometimes split in half. I truly hope that when you pay $12.6M, you know the card is perfect!

In the end, the sale totaled close to $40M, of which the Mantle card accounted for 31.5% of the sale.