Tustin, CA One of the best 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball cards on the PSA Set Registry and the highest known graded 1952 Topps unopened wax pack are part of the Summer Treasures Auction now underway at Memory Lane Inc.
Of the other 10 '52 Mantles graded by PSA, seven are 9s with just three 10s.
"In my opinion, the 1952 Topps Mantle card stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the cards that have been graded 9," said Memory Lane's J.P. Cohen. "The eye appeal of this one is just very, very nice and the opportunity to finally put a card like this into the marketplace is really exciting."
The card was once graded "8" but recently bumped to an 8.5 after the owner submitted it for re-examination when PSA added the half-grades to its 10-point grading scale. "This is one of those cards that was too nice to really be an 8," said Cohen. "It's well deserving of the new recognition that comes with the half grade increase. The owner of this card realized that."
In fact, it's believed that as many as 30 8s were submitted for review after the implementation of half-grades. The example now up for auction was the only one to receive the ½ point increase from PSA.
All ten of the PSA 9 and 10 Mantle cards reside in private collections, so the 8.5 auction is a rare opportunity for investors and serious collectors to acquire one of the hobby's 'holy grails'. In 2007, Memory Lane sold two of the 9s for $375,000 each. SMR value of the 8.5 is $135,000 although it's not hard to suggest the card will realize a significantly higher price. Early bidding last week had already pushed it to $70,000 with the auction not scheduled to close for another three weeks.
The card is well centered with strong corners, sides and surface. The reverse is one of the best Memory Lane has ever seen. This card is synonymous to all collectors as the card that "started it all". The young Mickey Mantle on his rookie card is from the tough high series issued late in the baseball season. Topps ordered all of the unsold high series cases dumped off a garbage scow, creating a shortage in later years. The high number series was only sold in regional areas, so it was a short-print series to begin with. The scarcity, combined with Mantle's popularity has sent the '52 card to the top of every collector and Yankee fan's want list.
Is there another 1952 Mantle residing in the high-grade pack that Memory Lane is offering? That's part of the mystery. The dark-colored wax wrapper makes it impossible to know who is inside or even what series the pack is from. It's believed that six cards are inside.
Remarkable as it may seem, collectors and investors will be bidding on a virtually pristine 58-year-old pack of baseball cards. You could consider it the ultimate lottery ticket. "This is the highest known graded 1952 Topps pack," Cohen said. "We've put the pre-sale estimate at between $20 and 30,000." Not bad for something that once cost a nickel. In Memory Lane's December 2009 auction, an unopened 1952 Topps 5-cent wax pack of lesser quality sold for a hobby record price of $15,406.
PSA Set Registry collectors putting together "Super Sets" of the highest quality will be chasing this rare survivor from another era since the pack is part of the Registry's checklist.
Nicely preserved, the decorative wrapper has none of the usual flaws that plague most of its counterparts. Its corners are tight, as is the seal, and the package presents just as it did on the candy counter more than half a century ago.
Bidding is currently underway in the Summer Treasures Auction, with hundreds of high-grade sports cards, rare sports memorabilia and other items from a wide variety of price points up for bid.
Auction registration is currently open with full-color images of all items available online and in the company's free auction catalog. For details, visit Memory Lane at www.memorylaneinc.com or call 1-877-606-LANE (5263).