There are more high-grade examples of the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle than there are of the 1965 Topps Joe Namath rookie card. While one could argue Mantle’s impact and popularity among card collectors is greater than that of Broadway Joe, the simple issue of scarcity is just one reason there’s likely to be a major buzz around a card that’s heading for the auction block next month.
Heritage Auctions is bringing one of the five PSA (mint) Namath rookies to its February Platinum Night Auction. No 10s have ever been awarded. The card carries a pre-sale estimate of $200,000 or more. The SMR value of a PSA 9 Namath rookie is currently $150,000. Last August, an 8.5 sold through Heritage for $78,000 while 8s typically bring around $30,000.
The last PSA 9 Namath rookie known to have sold was through a private sale in 2014. Another was offered as part of the #1 Finest 1965 Topps set break auction that same year through another auction house but the price of the set ($133,759) surpassed the sum of the individual cards and the set remained intact. The last sale of a PSA 9 Namath rookie at public auction took place in 2008. It went for $20,000 —considered a princely sum for a football card at the time but a remarkably good investment through the rear view mirror of a rapidly escalating vintage rookie card market.
1965 Topps football cards are difficult to find in high-grade because they’re much larger than the standard size trading card. They’re also plagued by centering issues, and while many sharp-looking Namath cards do exist, centering or print defects usually prevent them from landing at the high-end of grading company standards.
The card at auction is appears generally well-centered on the front and back with four sharp corners.
It will be part of the two-session auction event that’s slated to open early next month and close February 24 and 25.