As an investment baseball cards are much like the stock market. Some cards are fads that are subject to large fluctuations upward or downward. Others are similar to blue chip stocks that have much less movement in terms of value. Mickey Mantle baseball cards certainly fall in the blue chip category.
Best Mickey Mantle Baseball Cards
Of course, there are many different Mantle cards to choose from.The Mick appeared on cards for nearly two full decades. All should be solid investments, performing much better than most areas of the baseball card hobby but some are better investments than others, undervalued even now with prices for top grade Mantle cards at or near an all-time high. In my view the clear number one Mickey Mantle baseball card investment opportunity lies in his 1951 Bowman rookie card. I have never really understood why a true rookie card of such an icon seems to get so little respect.
Despite the fact that it is Mantle’s true rookie card, it continues to sell for much less than his 1952 Topps issue, which is mistaken thought of by many to be Mantle’s rookie card. Yes the 1952 Topps is a short print high number, but it is also a double-printed card and not really that much more difficult to obtain.
The 1951 Bowman Mantle sells for less than half the price of the more glamorous 1952 Topps card. Much of this price disparity can be attributed to the power of the Topps name and marketing of baseball cards as the hobby became famous. Over time this attitude has begun to change. The true importance and value of Mantle’s true rookie is slowly emerging but the card still represents a great investment for the future.
The 1956 Topps Mantle my second choice as an investment in a Mickey Mantle baseball card portfolio. There are several reasons for its inclusion. First, the landscape format of the 1956 Topps set with a portrait of each player and an action shot makes it one of Mantle’s most visually pleasing cards. This card also is from his Triple Crown year, a season that also saw the Yankees win the World Series. These factors give this card special meaning that add to its value and make it an undervalued card.
Of course, you could certainly make an argument that Mantle’s 1953 cards–both Topps and Bowman–would be on par or better than the ’56 and not necessarily be wrong. Generally, the older the better is good card investment advice. Many believe the artwork on Mantle’s 1953 Topps stands above all of his cards. By contrast, the 1953 Bowman “pure card” design offer the earliest actual photo of Mantle used on a card. It’s simplistic beauty makes it a favorite and as of this writing, you can own a near mint example for under $5,000. Higher grade examples of both cards have almost always proven to be a good investment.
In 1957 Topps issued a set of cards that, for the first time, featured a full photograph of each player on the front of the card. The lettering on the front of the card was kept to a minimum so the photos really stand out. The Mantle card from this set is particularly striking as it catches Mantle’s classic swing. The pose captures the essence of Mickey Mantle as a player. It is also a card that is often more difficult to obtain than its value indicates. The 1957 Topps Mantle should have a value of at least ten percent higher than it does when compared to other Mantle cards. Over time the market will sense this and a correction in the value will occur due to free market forces.
The 1960 Topps is a card that is often difficult to obtain in top condition. It was the last of the Mantle cards that was done in a landscape format. It has his name in large bold letters along with an excellent pose of the Commerce Comet in mid-career. Because of printing issues and the luck of the draw, this card can be difficult to obtain in high grade.
Often the value of a particular card can piggyback itself from the popularity of an entire set. The 1965 Topps set has to be the most undervalued baseball card set Topps made. As more collectors enter the hobby and increase demand for this clean-looking set full of brilliant photographs, the value of each of the individual cards will increase. The Mantle card, as always, is one of the key cards in this set. Its value therefore can be expected to rise in relation to the rest of the market.
Mantle appeared on cards from 1951 through 1969, driving two generations of kids to the drug store to buy packs of cards in hopes of finding his picture inside. Demand remains extraordinarily high among collectors and Yankee fans. Any Mickey Mantle card is generally a good investment. His cards are to the hobby what companies like Coca-Cola, McDonalds and General Electric are to the stock market. The demand isn’t likely to subside any time soon and buying the best quality Mantle card you can afford is good advice when it comes to the player who helped turn baseball cards into an American treasure.