Discovered last fall, two virtually unknown cards of Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra from an obscure regional set produced in the 1950s are now on the auction block.
Wheatland Auction Services is offering the cards, which were produced for Mascot Dog Food, in its current sale. The Lancaster, PA auction company has placed a $20,000-$100,000 estimate on the Mantle card and a $3,000-$15,000 estimate on the Berra. The first bid on the Mantle card following the auction’s weekend opening was $5,000. Bidding will continue through January 28 as part of the company’s 607-lot Winter Auction.
Little is known about the dog food company—or how the cards were distributed–if at all. The only other publicly known example from the Mascot set is of Phillies pitcher Robin Roberts. The back of the Roberts and Berra cards reference an eight-card set while the Mantle seems to indicate his was one of 11 cards produced for the promotion. However, no other players have been discovered to date.
The photo on the Berra card is identical to the one used to create his 1950 Bowman issue while Mantle’s card was made from a photograph taken during the 1952 World Series. Therefore, while dating the Mascot cards is somewhat difficult, it’s likely they were produced in 1953 or perhaps a year or two later. Until now, the Roberts card was the only one referenced in the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards (labeled as a 1955 issue) and the Beckett Almanac.
The cards were discovered by a Pennsylvania antique dealer who purchased a decades-old photo album in which they were stored. They were recently submitted to Beckett, which authenticated and graded them, with each earning a 1.5 (Fair). The Mantle card has a pin hole at the top.
The cards include a facsimile signature on the front with the inscription “To My Mascot” with an offer on the back to join the “My Mascot Club”. With so few cards known to exist, it’s possible the planned promotion never got off the ground beyond a few samples.
Mascot Dog Food was an East Orange, NJ company that had been in existence since at least the 1930s but it hasn’t been connected with any other sports card related products. They are no longer in business.