Mickey Mantle was a New York Yankees legend and built an impressive MLB career over the years. His 1952 Topps baseball is considered the “most valuable sports card of all-time” and gives baseball card investors a wonderful long term investment opportunity.
A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle SGC 9.5 (the equivalent of PSA 10) sold for $12.6 million on August 28th, 2022 via Heritage Auctions.
Oddly enough, this card isn’t considered Mickey Mantle’s true rookie card. Topps produced a 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle card that’s technically his first ever baseball card produced.
However, the 1952 Topps Baseball Set rose to prominence due to scarcity over time since Topps destroyed a large amount of high number 1952 Topps singles after production (they were thrown into the ocean).
Scarcity increases value and that’s one of the reasons why the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle sells for such a high price.
In this article, I will list the value of 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie cards according to individual grade and share tips on how to acquire this piece of baseball history.
1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 (September 2022 Price Guide)
Buy it Now on: eBay
PSA 2 Good Condition
PSA 1 Poor Condition
The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 1 is the lowest end available PSA grade for investors.
The task of identifying the legitimacy is made slightly more difficult as there are a couple of 1952 Topps Mantle card types.
There’s no difference in value between the two, as long as they’ve achieved the same grade.
- A pixel missing in the lower left border of Type 1 gives it a rounded look
- There is only a partial black border around the Yankee logo
- The stitches on the baseball are pointed to the right
- The “h” in Right and “s” in DiMaggio’s are nearly perfectly aligned
- There is a blue pixel missing in the upper left background on Type 2, which is easy to spot
- The border around the Yankees logo on Type 2 is not as bold as the Type 1
- The upper black border of Type 2 slightly overlaps with the vertical borders
- The border around the nameplate on Type 2 is more jagged in comparison
How to Spot a Fake Counterfeit
It is very important to note that if a Mickey Mantle card contains all of the proper indicators discussed above, it DOES NOT mean the card is authentic. Many of the newer and better counterfeits will contain all these indicators.
Spot a Fake Ungraded 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle
As a rule of thumb, unless one has a lot of experience, I would recommend that a collector never purchase a raw (ungraded) Mantle due to the number of counterfeits on the market. I would venture a guess that over 99% of raw ungraded Mantles being sold on eBay and other marketplaces are either fake or altered.
If one does decide to purchase a raw Mantle, here a few things to look for:
- Color – A lot of counterfeit cards will have display slightly different colors, hues and tints. Unfortunately, an authentic Mantle will also have slight variations as well, depending on how it was stored, exposure to light, exposure to UV, etc. While there are no specific things to look for regarding color, this is typically the easiest method to detect counterfeit Mantles if one doesn’t have the card in hand.
- Card stock – This is probably the most difficult part of the card for a counterfeiter to reproduce. Buy a 1952 Topps common for a few bucks to get familiar with the cardstock. Counterfeits will often have a thinner cardstock or vary in texture and color.
- Wear – Few people will try to sell a counterfeit Mantle in pristine condition as 65-year-old cards will typically display wear. Often counterfeiters will try to tone or stain the card or artificially wear the corners to give the impression the card is old. Very often, artificial wear patterns are easy to spot.
- Black Light Test – Studying the color of fluorescence under a black light is another quick easy test to perform. This is a comparative test, so you will need some known authentic examples of cards from the set to compare to. The counterfeit may fluoresce darker, lighter or with a different color.
- Opacity – Testing the opacity of card stock is another good method to detect counterfeits. Different card stocks will differ on how much light they let pass through. If you have a strong flashlight, hold it up against the Mantle and then perform the same test on a known authentic example (or any card from the 1952 set) and compare the results. Below is a picture showing the test being performed on a 1968 Topps Mickey Mantle, but the same principle applies for any card.
Buying ungraded 52 Topps Mantles is a big headache and may not be worth the risk. However, you need to take precaution with graded examples too.
Spot a Fake Graded 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle
Due to the rarity of this card, many investors prefer investing in graded 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards. But that doesn’t mean you cannot get scammed. Scammers will often crack open a PSA case, replace the real 52 Topps Mantle with a Fake, reseal the case and sell it to the unsuspecting buyer.
It’s important to make sure the PSA slab is untampered and matches the PSA certification number listed on the official PSA website. Head over to PSA’s Cert Verification to make sure everything matches up correctly.
- Be careful of 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Reprints. There are thousands of them floating around on eBay and investors may get confused between the reprint and the original. Purchase graded cards on eBay to avoid getting scammed.
- Buy during the MLB offseason to get the best prices.
- Private auction houses are the best route for selling high end 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards. Goldin, Heritage Auctions, and Huggins & Scott have regular auctions showcasing high end vintage baseball cards to wealthy baseball card investors.
- Store your Mickey Mantle rookie cards in a temperature controlled room to avoid excessive heat moisture. If you own an ungraded version then getting your card graded is a quick and easy way to help preserve it longer.
Insuring Your Investment
With high end cards like the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, investors may consider purchasing insurance on their collection in case of loss or theft.