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1952 Topps Mickey Mantle (PSA 7)
2/9 @ 2:30PM ET
Iconic card featuring an iconic player. It’s the ideal recipe for a collector or investor that is trying to limit risk while balancing a history of long-term appreciation. There is no card that better epitomizes those values than the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. In a tier that is shared with the T206 Honus Wagner, the ‘52 Mantle is the most well-known sports card ever produced. This PSA 7 example is one of just 76 to earn a near mint designation and falls within the top 6% of the total graded population. This IPO also gives investors on Collectable the opportunity to add a second 1952 Topps Mantle to their portfolio, as the platform offered a PSA 8 graded example last year. This means that 2% of all near mint through gem mint 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards are currently available on Collectable.
The Mantle market has momentum. Baseball cards from the 1950s are up 26.47% on Collectable’s secondary market while the total average return for sports cards on the platform is just 6.29% (figures include only assets trading or exited). More specifically, Collectable has offered two Mantle’s from 1952, and both have outperformed the average significantly. The 1952 Bowman Mantle is up 133.3% overall, while the PSA 8 Topps ‘52 Mantle has gained 130%. After auction prices peaked in the spring, they pulled back significantly, in some cases experiencing 60% declines depending on card/grade during the summer. These prices have since shown signs of recovery though and now sell 20-30% below the February-April ranges.
Stability and reliability. If you are looking for 10x returns, the Mickey Mantle market is not where you should be looking. If you are looking for a low volatility asset relative to the rest of the card market, the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle is the market to explore. While other alternative assets such as art and wine have extended track records of performance to base investment decisions on, the number of card prices that have been tracked and registered over the last 20+ years is limited. One card that has been followed over the years, even before this most recent card craze, is this 1952 Topps Mantle. Business journals such as Forbes have published articles comparing Mantle appreciation to the S&P 500 and no player is more represented within the PWCC indices than this Yankee legend. As the calendar turns and we step into a period of uncertainty within the card market, certain cards will continue to provide a level of long-term assurance, even if prices shift lower.
Reserve not met. This exact card was featured in the Holiday Auction hosted by Goldin less than a month ago and failed to reach its reserve. The card climbed to $240,000 early in the final week of the auction but did not attract another bid as the final hammer dropped. If there had not been a reserve the $240,000 result would have been the lowest price paid for a PSA 7 since May. The result was part of a larger array of Mantle cards that went unsold during the auction and were highlighted in our Auction Action. Was the lack of a sale due to a high reserve or a broader sign for the overall Mantle market? PWCC’s January sale of a PSA 7 graded Mantle with decent eye appeal for $336,000 provides some comfort that the failed sale was not necessarily emblematic of a weakening broader market.
Eye appeal in question. As with any vintage card where the profile is encased with a thick white border, attributes such as centering play a critical role in the valuation process. Anyone who does not believe eye appeal is important is ignoring sales history - take the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie Card. On July 11th, Goldin sold a PSA 10 for $270,600. Then, less than a week later on July 17th, PWCC sold a PSA 10 with elite eye appeal for $840,000. While that 3.1x multiple between sales was more significant than usual, it is common to see prices fluctuate by 1.4x - 1.7x based on centering and coloration differences alone. This specific Mantle shifts to the left and sits high on the white canvas. This card is still an exceptional example and rightfully earned its Near Mint designation but this is not the card that will be establishing new price targets for the PSA 7 population.
What will 2022 bring for vintage cards? While it is highly unlikely the vintage Mantle market will collapse due to consistent demand and a reliable track record, it seems just as unlikely the market will continue to display the year-over-year growth realized between 2020 and 2021. While the 2021 spring sports card bull market feels like it was years ago, it can be difficult to remember the card market through the 2010s. The first 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 7 to break six figures was sold in 2016 for $161,100 and there wasn’t a sale that exceeded $200,000 until 2021. Then in 2021, not only did prices consistently close above $200,000, they reached $350,000. Prices for 1952 Mantle cards were range-bound for five years between 2016-2021 and ever since the explosion in prices during the spring, have been range-bound once again through the fall and winter.
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