April 17, 2014

Investing in Mickey Mantle Baseball Cards

When it comes to investing in sports memorabilia, no portfolio is complete without a few, high-grade Mickey Mantle baseball cards.  There is a reason why this Hall of Fame inductee commands such attention within the investing community:  collectability.


Mickey Mantle’s cards achieved a cult-like following for a couple of reasons.  First, Mantle spent his entire career in a big market, New York.  That gave him prominent radio and television visibility.

Second, he was a prolific slugger.  His home runs were both mammoth in distance, and theatric in timing.  It was not uncommon for Mantle to come through with a home run in the bottom of the 9th inning, with his team down by a run.

Third, he played on numerous, contending teams.  An unusually high percentage of his teams went on to play or win the World Series.  His ability to perform well in front of a national audience sealed his stature as a blue chip player.

Investment Quality

Many of those same children that fantasized of being Mickey Mantle, in their youths, have now gone on to become prominent collectors.  Their continued interest in Mantle cards and autographs has put a pricing floor under the price of his memorabilia.

Top Card to Watch

Because of Mantle’s prominent place in the collecting world, hundreds of different cards have been issued over the years. Many modern issues have little investment value.  However, several dozen vintage Mantle cards are in tremendous demand and provide long-term appreciation opportunities. If you’re buying, grab the best you can afford–and the oldest.  Be sure the card is well centered and looks good to others of the same grade with a naked eye.  You simply can’t go wrong with Mantle as long as you follow those rules.

Below are a few of his cards, which are both liquid and highly sought after:

1952 Topps, #311 – This is Mickey Mantle’s first Topps issue.   High-graded cards are incredibly difficult to find and command stratospheric premiums.  Graded and ungraded cards are in strong demand, with graded cards receiving a premium over ungraded cards.  Recently, a PSA 3 card sold for $7,200 and a PSA 5 sold for $11,502. The ’52 Topps series in general is scarce and even though this card was double printed, it’s still an icon.

1951 Bowman, #253 – This is Mickey Mantle’s true rookie card.  Although not as valuable as the 1952 Topps card, nevertheless, it features prominently in high-end investors’ collections.  Recently, a PSA 3 card sold for just under $1,900, and a PSA 4 sold for $2,825.

1969 Topps, #500 – White Letter Variation – This is an error of Mantle’s last card.  A small percentage of the Mantle cards made in 1969 had white letters for the name, instead of yellow letters.  The result is incredible scarcity and consistent, investment demand for this card.  Both the correct and error cards have shown consistent demand and appreciation.  For example, a yellow-letter card that was graded PSA 4 recently sold for $84.  Compare this to a white-letter card in the same grade that sold for $475.

[phpbay]Mickey Mantle SGC|Mickey Mantle PSA, “”, 213, “”[/phpbay]


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  2. [...] While Mantle’s true rookie card was the 1951 Bowman No. 253, this card was Mantle’s first Topps card. It is also the most valuable Mickey Mantle baseball card. [...]

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