One of the highest grade examples of the most important and iconic post war sports card has created quite a buzz.
SGC president Peter Steinberg took time out of a busy schedule in the midst of the madness of The National to talk with us about the grading process, the magnitude and importance of the card and the significance of the fact that it resides in an SGC holder.
Tony Reid- SGC graded an incredible 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card that scored a 9.5 Mint Plus. It’s a piece of art and a piece of history as much as it is a baseball card. With a sale that will shatter any previous record for a single sports card offering. What was the environment and vibe in the office like when this one in a lifetime card walked in the door?
Peter Steinberg-We have graded hundreds of 1952 Topps Mantles. We have graded countless T206 Wagners. This one was just a different animal altogether. The eye appeal alone, remember this is before it has that beautiful 9.5 grade above it, the centering, the color, the corners, the registration, it’s all there on this card. This thing should not exist. The fact that is has such provenance and the fact that it has such a beautiful hobby lineage makes it that much sweeter.
TR-You mentioned the provenance, with the Mr. Mint letter and ownership of the card, how much more heat does that bring to an already spectacular card?
PS-In our hobby it’s not uncommon to label a card. If you own a 1953 Topps Mickey Mantle that was once owned by Mickey Mantle, that is something interesting. You might want to put that on the label. It could even increase the value and desirability to own the card. I think what is so cool about this card is instead of it being an athlete or celebrity, it’s a hobby legend. I think it’s one of the first times that we have seen that where it’s not contrived or forced or a play to make the card more valuable. It happened so organically and it’s a beautiful thing for the hobby.
TR–We’ve seen in the past with cards of this magnitude the transportation has involved armored vehicles and armed security. Is that what we can expect with this special Mantle piece?
PS-As you can imagine, our team was absolutely elated to be trusted with such an impactful item. We were equally elated to have that thing out of our office safe and sound were now it’s going on to the auction house and the new owner. As you can imagine, security is obviously the highest priority when handling a card of that magnitude.
TR– In the grading cards “arms race” how important was it for SGC to be the one to grade it? What does it mean for you?
PS-It means a ton. I am so proud of the team. We have worked so hard and not just this iteration of our team, as you mentioned, SGC has been around for 24 years. I am very young. I am 27 years old. I certainly was not running this company back in the day. I think in a way, it is almost paying homage to the experts and the graders that were a part of the team then, many of which are still a part of the team today training some of our newer graders and instilling in them those pillars that got us to where we are today. It has really made this brand one of the most trusted walking the show floor today.
TR–The Mantle card is most definitely a national story, potentially an international one as mainstream media outlets have picked it up and run pieces on it. What has been the response outside of the community for SGC and you personally with the magnitude of this card?
PS-When something good happens to SGC, we get a big card or a card sells for more than expected, I will receive a friendly text message or email congratulating me on the good news. But those texts and emails come from card people. You know something is really, really, really big when your friends who have no interest in cards are like ‘Holy cow. Congratulations!’ That is basically what my last 48-72 hours have been like and it has been amazing to experience.
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