You see the headlines. Probably read some of them right here. High grade Mickey Mantle cards selling for five and sometimes six figure prices. It can be enough to scare anyone off. Maybe you’re interested in a nice Mantle or two…but what to buy? None of them are “cheap” anymore, but there are some value plays.
Here are some ideas for building a career collection of five of The Mick’s best looking cards, in very respectable condition, without going completely broke. Click the title of each to see them on eBay.
You’ll hear plenty about the 1952 Topps Mantle. His first Topps card. Part of the scarce series. Half of them probably wound up at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean when they didn’t sell. It’s the holy grail not named Wagner. The ’51 Bowman? His true rookie card. Face it, Bowman was first to put Mantle on cardboard and sell him with gum. So what’s wrong with Mantle’s second year card–the one issued before the ’52 Topps? Not a darn thing. In our humble opinion, this card still has plenty of growth ahead over time, too. Terrific card at a decent price–for now.
Many believe Mantle’s 1956 Topps card is his best. It’s hard to argue. Great, smiling face shot with an action picture in the background and issued in his Triple Crown season. It’s also a little pricey. A near mint ’57 is valued at about half of what a ’56 will cost.
The 1957 issue shows Mantle at 25 years of age, still a youngster but now a household name. It’s the year Topps moved to standard sized cards and the singular posed action photo was a first. You can read all about his incredible ’56 season on the back and see those amazing stats.
For collectors, the ’57 Topps set is like a ’57 Chevy. It gets undying love from its fans.
Topps went back to the horizontal format in ’60 and captured a classic image of Mantle in his prime against a Yankee Stadium backdrop. The shadows and colors are really stunning for a set that has its’ share of ho-hum cards.
Pick this one up and you’ll stare at it for a good couple of minutes. It launched the last decade of Mantle’s career, but he was far from done.
1961 was the Maris-Mantle home run battle. The Yankees were in the midst of five straight World Series trips and Mantle was the guy who helped carry them on his back. It’s not a regular issue card, but every Mantle collection should include one Topps card that just celebrates his achievements and this one has a reasonable price.
A very nice near mint ’61 Mantle MVP (celebrating his honors from a few years earlier) can be had for far less than you’d expect. Considering the classic look–a strong-looking veteran with the bat on the shoulder of his home white pinstripes–this card is a terrific deal.
Is it hard to find? No. There was a large stash of these that made its way into the hobby years ago and has kept prices for what is a wonderful, gorgeous little set, very low. A beautiful, NM graded example of this card is an easy score at under $100. The 1964 Giants card represents the end of the Mantle era Yankee dynasty and is one of the best images of an older Mick from any set. His career would begin the inevitable downward trend soon after. The set itself beautifully represents the last link to the Mantle that millions of kids emulated.
There you have it. Five Mantle cards you can aspire to own without skipping mortgage payments. Tackle them one at a time and you’ll appreciate a little slice of the guy who still drives the hobby forward to this day. Want to find out what everyone is chasing?
Click here for a look at the most watched Mantle cards right now.