May 2012 Auction
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/25/2012
When Topps released their inaugural baseball card set in 1952, no one would have predicted that this 407-card collection would one day become the standard for which all other issues would be compared. After all, the Bowman company was not only well-schooled in the production and distribution of collector cards and had been for decades, but they had a four year head start in the baseball world, building the loyalty of a customer base that the upstart Topps company had to crack. Even more unlikely was that card #311, the first card of a notoriously scarce high-number series that found its way to the bottom of the ocean with more frequency than it did into collector's hands, would become the single most coveted sports card collectable of the post-war era, if not all-time. One could argue whether Topps would have survived in the baseball card hobby, let alone thrived for over 60 years, had Mickey Mantle decided to give up baseball and go to work in the mines of Oklahoma, which he considered while experiencing a rookie season slump. Fortunately for Mantle, the game of baseball, and millions of collectors around the world, history unfolded as it did and the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card has become the hallmark of any world-class collection.
While the card does not possess the unique rarity of some other issues, it evokes a sensation of wonderment and awe just the same, not only to those privileged enough to have seen "The Commerce Comet" in action but to all who understand his historic place within the game's expansive history. The presented specimen has been graded NM 7 by PSA and exhibits several qualities that compare favorably with contemporaries at its assessed level and above. While the centering does mildly favor the northeast quadrant with just the slightest hint of a clockwise pitch, this imperfection is relatively benign when measured against most other specimens, even at this elevated tier. The two left corners are in line with the carefully calculated grade by PSA, while both the upper and lower right corners surpass the specifications for NM status. The reverse side printing is placed toward the horizontal left side but exhibits no inclusions in the form of stray print or staining. Which leads us to the central image, where the iconic bat on shoulder pose of Mantle is delivered with intense clarity and supported by a hypnotic aqua-blue background that will capture your eye with its illusory depth of field. Few if any other PSA 7s, or some higher graded specimens for that matter, can claim to possess the magnetism and overall allure of this iconic masterpiece. There are different levels of excellence within a specified grade that become significant when considering such an important piece, and this card is certainly one of the better representations of a NM specimen that you're likely to encounter. Considering that only the T206 Honus Wagner card is more celebrated within the hobby, there's no rationale to keep this exclusive offering from finding a home within a museum quality assemblage!
1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle PSA 7 NM
Click above for larger image.