An original photograph of Mickey Mantle featuring the iconic image which was utilized for his 1952 Topps baseball card has been sold privately through Hunt Auctions for a record-setting $375,000. It’s the most ever paid for a PSA/DNA authenticated Type I unsigned post-War baseball image.
The photo is one of only three Type I examples known to exist. It had previously been owned by a private collector.
The black and white 7” x 9” photograph was taken in 1951 and originally issued by International News Service, which later merged with United Press to form United Press International. The photo carries period stamping on the back.
Vintage original photographs featuring images used on trading cards have escalated in both price and popularity in recent years, with the early images of Mantle that are identical to those used by Topps and Bowman high on collector want lists.
“The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card remains to date one of the most recognizable American sports and popular culture items of the last 100 years,” said David Hunt President of Hunt Auctions. “The incredible price attained for this original photograph further attests to the immeasurable popularity of the Mickey Mantle rookie card as coveted by millions of American youth during the 1950s period. This record amount is sure to reset the standards for vintage baseball photography of its type.”
The Mantle photograph was authenticated by Henry Yee of PSA/DNA.
“It’s an extremely rare photo because it was only originally issued regionally by International News as a minor news story for the locals and not a national press release. (It was) taken on March 5, 1951 in Phoenix, Arizona,” Yee stated. “This was a 19-year old Oklahoma kid that the nation have never heard of and not Mickey Mantle circa-1956 when he was a megastar and cameras followed him everywhere.”
According to Hunt Auctions, Yee and dealer Charlie Barokas assisted with the private sale to the buyer who is a private collector and asking to remain anonymous.
A photo of Mantle identical to the one used to produce his 1951 Bowman rookie card sold in 2015 for $71,700. The all-time record for a baseball photograph was set earlier this year by a Carl Horner studio portrait of Ty Cobb, an image used to create his T206 cards more than a century ago. It sold this summer for $396,000.
Hunt Auctions has been involved in several major sales of vintage photos and is currently in preparation for a major offering of vintage baseball photography from the archives of Photo File in addition to the second portion of a significant photographic collection a private collector.