Love of the Game Auctions Spring 2023 Premier Auction

1. Stunning Signed 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle (HOF) - The Finest Known Example (PSA/DNA GEM MINT 10)

they are today. In earlier days, autographing a baseball card was considered taboo; collecting purists believed the signature destroyed the condition of the card, making it less desirable. Eventually, however, collectors began to realize that this unwritten rule had an unintended effect: signed vintage cards were hard to find . Especially the more valuable cards of key Hall of Famers – who on earth would write on an expensive 1952 Mantle?! The result is this truly extraordinary card. Signed perfectly in blue ballpoint, carefully centered underneath Mantle’s image but not obscuring the Yankees logo, the card is a marvel, a well-centered card with amidgrade appearance and a bold signature. The card carries outstanding provenance, having had just two owners - its original owner was a dedicated and lifelong collector who pulled the card from a pack in its year of issue, and (with great reluctance, as the signature would destroy it’s value) had Mantle autograph it for him in the mid 1970s. The card remained in his possession until it was sold at auction a little over a decade ago for a then-astonishing price of $22,000. From there, the card remained tucked away in a collection of signed 1952 Topps until making its way to this auction. The signature has been graded GEM MINT 10 by PSA/DNA - one of only a handful we have identified at that grade level, and one of just two with ballpoint signatures. The card itself is a well-centered VG 3, with vivid color and a clean surface, bright borders and a crisp, well-registered image. Light softening of the corners and some pronounced wear to the left edge keep the card from a higher holder but certainly do not distract from its visual appeal. The card appears VG/EX; it is only upon very close inspection that some edge wear becomes apparent, likely the reason for the technical grade. Regardless, the card is far superior to any signed 1952 Mantle we have ever seen, and we are in agreement with the original seller of the card that it is likely the finest signed 1952 Mantle in existence. The 1952 Topps Mantle has proven over the years that no price is too high; no sooner does a sale break a record than another tops it. This example checks all the boxes: well-centered, clean image with a beautiful vintage ballpoint signature, centered perfectly on the canvas and graded GEM MINT 10 by the leader in autograph authentication and card grading, and with remarkable provenance. Likely the finest autographed 1952 Topps Mantle in existence, simply a spectacular card, one of the greatest items we have ever offered. MINIMUM BID: $50,000

Easily the most popular and significant postwar baseball card, the 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle has surpassed the now- overused term “iconic,” moving into uncharted territory during the recent hobby boom. Atop the want list of thousands of collectors, experienced and novice alike, it is often stated that the 1952 Mantle and T206 Honus Wagner are the best-recognized cards in the hobby, transcending collecting itself to the point where non-hobbyists can identify each card on sight. Certainly owning any ’52 Mantle is a badge of collecting honor, as it has long been considered a “blue chip” card and is universally recognized as the most important postwar card in the hobby. While the demand for 1952 Topps Mantle cards has always been strong, the supply has not been an issue, as the card is fairly readily available. Where the card becomes truly rare, however, is with the introduction of a vintage autograph, particularly one in ultra-high grade. As suggested by population reports, signed 1952 Mantles are scarce to begin with: while PSA has graded nearly 1,900 unsigned examples of the card, the PSA/DNA population report registers just 18 signed examples. Of this modest population of just 18 signed examples, however, most are more recent, later-in-life signatures, applied by Mantle in Sharpie. Examples with vintage ballpoint signatures are virtually nonexistent, and we are aware of only two ballpoint examples that have achieved the lofty grade of GEM MINT 10. The offered card is the superior graded example, and by far the superior (in our opinion more than the higher card grade suggests) of these two ballpoint signatures. In summary and in short, we believe this is the finest signed 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle known to exist. As is well-known, extremely high-grade examples of 1952 Topps Mantles will sell for extremely high prices: An SGC MINT+ 9.5 example sold in 2022 for $12.6 million. While one has not been available at public auction since 1995, a PSA 10 example (there are three graded at that level) would likely sell for more. Should the values of the very highest grade 1952 Mantles have any relevance to the values of the very highest-grade autographed 1952 Mantles? That’s for collectors to decide, but we cannot help but think it is interesting at least to acknowledge the relative values, particularly since signed examples are so rare, let alone in high grade.

Autographed baseball cards were not always the desirable collectibles


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