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Auction Action: Heritage Auctions and The Mantle Market

Auction Action: Heritage Auctions and The Mantle Market
October 20, 2022
Bradley Calleja

Yes, we are still talking about it.

In August, Heritage set a sports collectibles record with their $12.6 million sale for a SGC 9.5 graded 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. Prior to that sale, we explored what a breakout result could mean for the overall Mantle market (you can find that article here). So far, the market has responded well with new records established across a variety of grades and grading agencies.

The October Showcase Sports Auction at Heritage carries multiple lower graded Mantle cards worth watching as we continue to evaluate the sector after the record-breaking Summer sale.

Monitoring the Mantle Market

The highest graded Mantle card at the October Showcase is a SGC 4 '52 Topps Mantle - the same set that established the record. This particular card enters the auction after a different SGC 4 recorded the first six-figure sale ever for a like-graded example. That sale occurred in September at Heritage and marked the third straight sale in which the result bested the previous price paid at auction. Although the $102,000 price is an impressive result, it actually only marked a slight increase from the previous high established in 2021. Heritage sold two SGC 4's, one in May 2021 and another in November. The two cards sold for $93,000 and $99,000 respectively before prices in 2022 fell as low as $55,200. The $102,000 sale was 85% higher than the first SGC 4 sale in 2022 and even 26% higher than an $81,000 sale that occurred in May. The direction of the SGC 4 Mantle market now hinges on the fifth sale of the year for like-graded examples. The card carries an estimate of $100,000 and is currently priced at $57,500 heading into the final days of auction.

The trickle-down of the $12.6 million Mantle sale is also impacting lower graded SGC cards from the 1952 Topps set but just not at the same level as with higher graded copies. If there has been any noticeable impact within the sales of lower graded Mantle's, it might revolve more around the auction volume and less the auction prices. In the eight months between January and August of this year there had only been two SGC 3 graded 1952 Topps Mantle cards sold publicly at auction. In the three month span of August and October there have been four sales including a $78,000 result that stands as the second highest price paid for a SGC 3. The record, which was set in February 2021, is $84,000 and occurred at Heritage just two months after one went for $31,200 and three months before prices fell back below $50,000. The rollercoaster in prices has seemingly slowed as the last five sales have all closed between $63,000 - $78,000 and the SGC 3 set to sell at Heritage is poised to settle within that same range. At the time of publication, the SGC 3 has actually matched the SGC 4 as both are priced at $57,500 with two days remaining.

The PSA market has also experienced a boost in valuations although in the case of PSA 3 graded 1951 Bowman Mantle's, the boost could be better defined as a recovery. As you can see from the chart below, prices in 2022 fell, and then stabilized for a minute, before they fell even more. Then, in August, after prices had established a new low and dropped below $13,000 for the first time in more than a year, something record-breaking happened from an entirely different Mantle from an entirely different card set. That headline sale still sent a ripple effect through the 1951 Bowman market and prices have steadily climbed with the last three sales since the $12.6 million result all building off one another. The last price, $22,800 via Goldin in September, is the highest price paid for a PSA 3 since Q1 and is nearly 90% higher than the $12,600 paid for a different PSA 3 in July. There is also a PSA 2 graded 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle up for auction this week at Heritage which could be positioned to set a new record for the card in that grade although sales data has been limited. This Heritage sale will be the first PSA 2 sold since the SGC 9.5 sale and will be compared to the last price of $61,000 which was realized via eBay in July.

(Other) Lots to Watch

Lot #57960: 1967 Ice Bowl Lambeau Field Green Bay Packers Goal Post Section

Alright, this piece of football history is cool... literally.

On December 31, 1967, the Green Bay Packers welcomed the Dallas Cowboys to Lambeau Field for the NFL Championship Game. The game-time temperature was a brisk −15 °F with a wind chill of −48 °F. To make matters worth, the heating system at Lambeau failed which led to a frozen field and helped dub the game 'The Ice Bowl'. There were multiple people in attendance at the game who had to be hospitalized for hypothermia and one elderly fan died due to the exposure to the extreme conditions. The Packers went on to win the game 21-17 and somehow, fans who braved the weather still had the energy to storm the field and knockdown the goal post. The post was carried through town and left at a machine shop in Green Bay to be cut into small sections. One of those section with a letter of provenance is now on the market and will sell via Heritage this weekend. The 2x4 yellow post piece has reached a price of $5,500 and remains one of the only items from the infamous Ice Bowl that is still available for the public to own as many artifacts have been preserved by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Lot #57419: 1984 Star Co. Michael Jordan Rookie #101 PSA NM 7

Earlier this year PSA announced that they would once again start grading the 1984 Star set after a scandal in the 1990s rocked the sports card world. At the high end, prices have climbed initially but there is a growing discomfort within collectors as the set due to the increasing population count. In August, PSA 7 prices surged above $30,000 but have since retreated back near $20,000 as sale volume has increased and the PSA 7 population is likely to grow due to the recent changes. The PSA 7 at Heritage is now priced at $19,200 with buyer's premium and will be an interesting sale to watch as the '84 Star Jordan card continues to experience increased volatility.

All Images via Heritage Auctions

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