The highest PSA-graded 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle rookie card has become the second most expensive sports card ever sold.
Tustin, California-based Memory Lane, Inc. has announced the private sale of a PSA 10 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle card to a collector for $600,000.
It is believed to be the second highest price ever paid for a single sports card, trailing only the PSA 8 T206 Honus Wagner which was sold twice last year, each time for a price in excess of $2 million.
The card, which once resided in the collection of former Major League pitcher Tom Candiotti, was originally graded during the 1990s.
Memory Lane brokered the sale that put the card into the hands of an unidentified west coast collector who is building and improving a PSA-graded ’51 Bowman set.
The market for high end vintage baseball cards continues to be strong, with no apparent shortage of willing buyers who either collect as an investment or have enough disposable income to be actively pursuing the highest-graded set of a particular issue.
The card’s value has escalated as high grade rare and popular cards continue to find a captive audience. It sold for under $100,000 approximately ten years ago, then sold again for $325,000 before the most recent deal set yet another record.
“It goes to show that one-of-a-kind rarities continue to set the bar higher,” said Memory Lane Auction Director J.P. Cohen. “The demand is so high for these cards because there are more big time buyers than ever before in the hobby. The cost is reflected in that. We could have sold this card to two or three other clients who were very interested. We almost had to do it on the basis of seniority.”
Memory Lane sold over $15 million worth of vintage sports cards and memorabilia during 2007. In September, the company’s catalog auction included a 1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig graded PSA 10 which sold for $274, 950 and a 1952 Topps Andy Pafko black back which brought $95,175. Less than a year earlier, it handled the auction of a PSA 2 T206 Wagner which eventually brought $294,337 and a 1952 Topps Mantle which sold for $282,587.
However, the company often serves as a broker for high grade sports cards which sometimes bring more money when sold privately rather than through an auction format.
“It’s a safe way to sell,” Cohen explained. “We love conducting our auctions but some of the bigger ticket items need to be looked at this way. The seller has some security and can maximize their return with a straight sale. With an auction, even if there is a reserve of $600,00 for a card like this and the high bid is only $350,000, the card goes back to the seller as kind of tainted because the card doesn’t bring the value the seller was expecting. A serious buyer is guaranteed to get what he wants without competing with anyone else.”
While the 1951 Bowman Mantle has established a new record for Mantle rookie cards, Cohen believes if one of the three PSA 10 1952 Topps Mantle cards currently in private collections were to hit the market, the sales price would exceed $1 million. There is just one problem.
“No one wants to sell theirs,” he said.
1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle cards are usually available on eBay, but not many. Click here to see some options.