Wade through the hundreds of thousands of sports collectibles being offered on eBay every day and you might be left with the impression that the only thing buyers are searching for these days are cards that are something a little less than 'vintage'. Phrases like "auto", "1/1" and "jersey" are searched thousands of times every minute of every hour. While it may be true that the sheer volume of current and modern era sports cards dwarfs that of the vintage market, it's not a total slam dunk. The fifth most popular search term in the Sports Cards and Memorabilia category over the last three months is "Mickey Mantle". That's a fact that holds true in virtually every time period you want to measure, too. While it may not be news flash to say that Mantle's popular, it's an impressive stat considering that most eBay users under 50 probably can't remember watching him play. The sales numbers simply don't quit.
The total volume of Mickey Mantle items sold on eBay from Oct. 3 to Dec. 1 was a staggering $1.456 million--a respectable take for a major sports memorabilia auction house catalog. During that time, 44,436 listings included the phrase "Mickey Mantle". Equally impressive was that nearly 40% of those items wound up selling to someone. The average selling price of a Mantle item on eBay during that time period was $83.67.
The dollar figures are skewed upward just a bit by the 1952 Topps Mantle card that remains such a hot commodity among vintage baseball card collectors. During that three-month period, ten '52 Mantle cards sold at prices ranging from $5995 for a PSA 2 copy to $18,700 for a card carrying a '6' grade.
Any vintage high grade Mantle card that's priced right is still selling. They don't account for anywhere near the 44,000+ total of items offered for sale, though. Mantle autographs, commemorative pieces, books, jerseys and other memorabilia are offered too and for sellers, the sales figures mean you've got a pretty fair shot to sell whatever it is you're listing.
The most popular days to list a Mantle item are Sunday and Tuesday. The most popular auction format is seven days, but here's a tip: 10-day auctions offer the best sell-through rate at more than 44%.
If you're looking for a bargain, it would appear that the best time to shop for Mickey Mantle on eBay is between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. That's when the average price of a Mantle card or piece of memorabilia drops significantly. Not everyone subscribes to a sniping service, it appears (Click here to see Mantle items closing within two hours of right now).
If you're a seller, avoiding those hours is probably a good idea--but you probably knew that already. The good news is, with the statistics we've seen, any other time is a good time to list something with number 7's name on it.