This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/20/2011
As a monument to our cherished hobby and National Pastime, and as a symbol of something so distinctly wonderful and American---the so-called "Golden Age" of not just baseball but of post-war American culture itself---we at Mile High Card Company simply never tire of telling the story of the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle high-number baseball card, especially when the re-telling of the fabled story accompanies the first-time sports market appearance of such a stunning and profoundly presentable upper-grade specimen like the juggernaut example featured here. Because of its prominence in the imaginations of Americans of all ages, and because of the staggering prices collectors pay for comparable examples---consistent NM/MT 8 sales were tipping the $100K plateau before the recession, and the three GEM MINT 10 examples at the top of PSA's pop charts are rumored to be worth $1 million each---most people incorrectly assume that the '52 Topps Mantle is the so-called "rookie card" of the fleet-footed, switch-hitting, baby-faced slugger from Commerce, Oklahoma. Wrong. Mick's RC is the 1951 Bowman issue, an attractive PSA 7 example of which we are currently offering in another lot. No, the reason for the prominence of the '52 high-number is a different story entirely, one rooted in the very creation of the popular cards that would captivate a generation and re-ignite an American card-collecting obsession dating back nearly a full century. Throughout the summer of 1952, the newly formed Topps company had been playing catch-up to consumer demand for its new baseball picture card series all summer, releasing cards #311-407 from the sixth and final sheet just in time for the World Series and the transition to the off-season. As such, demand took a quick dive, and the majority of the so-called "high-number" cards produced never left Topps' New York City warehouse. One of the set's primary designers, legendary Topps employee, Sy Berger, the so-called "father of modern day baseball cards," then tried to push the extra inventory in Canada and in Series I packs of the 1953 issue, but to no avail. As a final recourse, in the early 1960's, in a move that would ironically mirror the actions of countless closet-clearing mothers across the country---remember, this card hard zero value then---Sy Berger filled two garbage trucks with the extra inventory and dumped it off the coast of New Jersey, where it now sleeps with the fishes. Heartbreaking but true. As another point of clarification, we should also explain the rather misleading designation of the Mantle #311 card as a "double-print." Indeed, the iconic card does in fact appear twice on the sixth and final 1952 Topps sheet, and for those who really enjoy subtleties, the two versions actually enjoy some minuscule differences, but the point of course is that the card's technical designation as a double-print on a sheet, or series, that realized exponentially less distribution than previous cards from the groundbreaking '52 issue, or from the seemingly endless additional Mantle issues that would follow, to this day, doesn't really make it a double-print. A quick, comparative review of the population numbers on record at all the major grading firms easily confirms the statistical scarcity of the card in all grades, but particularly in grades of NM+ or higher. While there is doubtless to be duplication in the combined population reports of the hobby's top-three grading firms---PSA, SGC, and BGS---we find precisely 1,346 total examples on record from the combined firms, or 1,014 and 230 and 102, respectively. Combined, only a dozen other examples have graded at the NM+ 7.5 tier, and less than 50 have ever graded higher than those, combined. Statistically, a little Mick Mantle math tells us that the offered example therefore ranks in the top 4.6% of all graded examples on record in the hobby. But this baby is brand new to the hobby, and we're certain that no more than 2 or 3 of those other top 4.6% of graded examples were graded any time near as recently as the featured gem. Indeed, that 4.6% hasn't changed by more than a tenth or two-tenths of a percentage point in almost half a decade! At the same time, it's no secret that grading standards at all the major grading firms have only grown infinitesimally more precise over the last half decade, and that what used to pass for NM/MT often wouldn't pass for NM anymore, and that's putting it nicely. Our point---there is one, we promise---is that the presented NM+ 7.5 specimen is so unusually presentable for its grade that it unquestionably outshines the majority of its scant dozen competitors in its NM+ 7.5 class on record at the combined grading firms, and almost certainly competes with at least a sizable portion of the 34 total examples graded in the NM/MT 8 category at the combined firms. Considering the math in this fashion helps us easily identify the presented card as one of the top 50 copies in existence. Centered to near perfection with a hardly perceptible preference for the bottom border, bolstered by strong and seemingly above-grade, chip-free corners and edges in the NM/MT range, only one of which shows a touch of frictional wear that can really be called NM or NM+, arguably the card's one only feature indicative of the professionally opined grade. Finally, some additional tiny details help us prove that the offered card is of the slightly more desired Type II variety, favored for its absence of a white print imperfection in the upper left field found on all Type I varieties, which also show an incomplete black border around the Yankees logo. Clearly, the black border is evident here, and the uninterrupted azure-blue background is free of any distractions whatsoever. An absolutely incomparable upgrade over any NM 7 example, boasting all the enchanting pack-fresh flare of a $100K NM/MT 8 copy, minus the year's salary. Very strongly recommended.
1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle SGC 86 NM+ 7.5
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