Record Prices Indicate Strength of Vintage Baseball Card Market

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle sold for 2,587 Two baseball cards sold for over a quarter million dollars each in a major sale of vintage memorabilia. Record-setting prices for graded material continue.

One of less than ten 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards professionally graded mint drew a winning bid well into six figures in an auction closing this weekend.

The Mantle card had been part of a collection owned by entertainment lawyer John Branca and was graded "9" by Professional Sports Authenticator. It’s winning bid was $240,500, but with a 17.5% buyer’s premium added by the auctioneer, Memory Lane Inc. of Newport Beach, California, the unidentified winner will pay $282,587. Only nine ’52 Mantle cards have ever been graded unqualfied 9 or 10 by PSA.

"Once again, the marketplace has underscored the importance of respected third-party authentication and grading. Many record prices were set in this Memory Lane auction, and the first three lots of the sale reflect the desire of collectors to obtain certified, scarce and historic items,” said Joe Orlando, PSA President and editor of Sports Market Report. “The sale produced amazing prices for quality material.”

“This was the first public auction of a PSA Mint 9 1952 Topps Mantle card in about a decade. There have been several PSA NM-MT 8’s offered in the last 2-3 years with one reaching over $70,000 and, while PSA 8’s are very tough to locate, PSA 9’s are almost never offered publicly,” said Orlando.

A world’s record also was set with the winning bid of $206,800 for a team-signed photograph of the 1927 New York Yankees. “This is the highest price ever paid for any autographed photo in our hobby’s history," Orlando said.

A PSA 2 T206 Honus Wagner tobacco card drew a winning bid of $250,500. With the premium tacked on, it sold for over $294,000. It’s estimated less than 75 Wagner cards exist in any condition.

The third card in what was advertised as a "Holy Grail trio auction" was a 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski rookie which sold for $58,417 with the buyer’s premium. The Nagurski is considered one of the most rare and popular football cards.

The auction also included an autographed 1927 Yankees team photo obtained from the family of player George Pipgras. It went for $206, 212.

Vintage cards, as usual, drew tremendous interest. 1948 Leaf proved a hot commodity with a Bob Feller PSA 8 reaching $24,611 and a Harry Brecheen $13,101. A 1933 Goudey Sport Kings Babe Ruth graded PSA 8 drew a winning bid of $28,200 while a ’33 Goudey #53 Ruth (PSA 7) brought $16,742. One of the hobby’s rare cards, a 1933 Goudey Nap Lajoie brought $13,767 even in PSA 2. A 1915 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson graded 7.5 by GAI was hammered down at $17,879.

A 1958 Topps PSA 8 Sandy Koufax drew a winning bid of $4958. In addition to the Nagurski, a ’35 Chicle Turk Edwards went for $5540.

Other items sold included:

  • Christy Mathewson signed check $19,642
  • 1978 Topps set, all graded and including several PSA 10 $21,086
  • 1956 Topps set, all graded PSA 7 $18,505
  • 1957-58 Topps basketball unopened pack $4353
  • 1961-62 Fleer Oscar Robertson $4157

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