It’s the post-War card every collector dreams of owning. Finding a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle for sale gets the mind quickly into calculation mode, wondering if it's possible to actually one one. The card has been catalogued, scrutinized, fawned over and chased by collectors who want to own the one that put the Topps Company on the map and kept it there. Its value soared in the 1990s as publicity overshadowed the fact that it’s actually a double print.
The supply, even though it’s greater than most other high numbers in ’52, can’t meet the demand and that's why prices have remained strong. Topps’ first Mantle card has often been discussed as an investment vehicle, too. If you can buy one at the right price, sometimes you can flip it for a profit. The staggering price increases that came as the hobby exploded are gone; replaced with a fairly steady market.
Yet some sales figures do reveal that there could be an opportunity for collectors to buy a 1952 Topps Mantle at a reasonable level compared to the last decade.
The greatest price fluctuations have come in the middle to higher grade cards, encapsulated by the grading companies.
- In 2008 and 2009, there were 6 sales of PSA 5 Mantles at $17,000 or more including three of $20,000 or more (two on eBay). Since 2010, only three of 19 ’52 Mantles sold topped that figure.
- No PSA 6 has sold for over $20,000 since May 2010
- In 2010 there were four sales of over $35,000 for a PSA 7 between May 28 and December 1. Prices fell a bit after that and five of the last six sales were under $31,000.
- There were two sales of $13,000 or more for PSA 4s in the spring of 2012. The last two sales have both been under $10,000.
- PSA 2s and 3s have held fairly steady over the last six years. The 2s have averaged just over $6,000 while the 3’s generally sell for around $7,500. However, the last three sales of SGC 40 ’52 Mantles have been the lowest recorded since 2006.
Why prices have dropped in the VG-EX to Near Mint range is hard to say. Since those cards require a significant amount of disposable income, it’s possible those who bought them several years ago suddenly found themselves short of cash during a still wobbly economy and decided to cash in while collectors who didn’t have as much invested were able to hang on to their lower grade examples.
Of course, the selling price for higher end cards always depends on the quality of that particular card. Not every ‘7’ is created equal. Still, the numbers are consistent enough to indicate a possible opportunity for those who have always wanted a 1952 Topps Mantle but were afraid to take the plunge. With mainstream exposure bringing more fresh money into the market, it's certainly possible those prices may soon be on the uptick.
See authentic, graded 1952 Topps Mantle cards on eBay here.