The History of the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Card

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card

A PSA 9.5 Topps Mickey Mantle card recently sold for $12.6M at auction, making it the single most expensive piece of sports memorabilia in the world (as of now!). While the figure might boggle the mind at first, experienced collectors that are familiar with the history of this 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card will not be surprised at the price it commands. Read on to find out what makes this particular card so valuable and how you can benefit from your hobby.

How Did The Card Get Here?

This Topps Mickey Mantle card carries with it one of the best stories in baseball card collection history, and it’s part of what makes this card so valuable for thousands of collectors all over the world. 

Soon after its release in 1952, the Topps series for that year performed relatively well at first, only for sales to plummet after Mantle’s team failed to show up. Hundreds of boxes of cards that weren’t sold were sent back to the factory as returns. At the time, sports cards weren’t really seen as a collectible store of value. Instead, customers would often throw them around and treat them as any other consumer product. Naturally, the returns were either disposed of in the Atlantic Ocean or given away to family and friends. The few boxes that survived the disposal?

They were called the ‘holy grail’. 

This 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card is a part of that holy grail, originally stored away in the attic by a truck driver for Topps. Little did they know that their very own grandson would later flip the unopened box for millions of dollars. 

The Growing Value of Unopened Hobby Boxes

The Topps Mickey Mantle card is only the most recent success story in a hobby with a long history of million-dollar collections. Interestingly, the other notable incident that comes to mind is actually about trading cards, illustrating the sheer value that unopened hobby boxes can hold if the market is favorable. 

This incident is, of course, the recent boom in Pokemon trading card box prices. As recently as May 2022, a single card went up on auction and sold for a whopping $420,000. Experts predict that this sale is a sign of a larger appreciating trend rather than a one-off incident, especially considering the growing interest in the hobby due to recent expansions like Sword & Shield. 

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card is the perfect example of how collectors can use unopened hobby boxes as stores of value. Multiple possible reasons can explain the skyrocketing prices of these boxes:

  • The Potential: An unopened pack of 1952 Topps’ real value is in its potential. Just one unopened pack of this product can go for $60K on the market (or more), but things get interesting when you consider the dilemma of the holder. Each box could contain a Topps Mickey Mantle card, or it could be a dud and end up costing the owner heavily for opening it.
    Whatever the outcome, it’s clear that diehard collectors and completionists are more than willing to dish out the extra dime for the novelty of being the first to uncover the next great high grade Mantle rookie. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of carefully unwrapping a mint-condition hobby box and discovering a prized holo in all its glory.
  • Time Capsules: Part of the charm of the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card is that it is an impeccably-preserved time capsule, carrying with it all the charm and style of a bygone era of sports cards. Its antique appeal is, of course, tied up intimately with its history. At the time of its printing, the Topps Mickey Mantle card was part of a set that was the single largest issue ever produced for sale. If preserved well, the cool blues and vibrant reds can still dazzle onlookers with their timeless charm.
    Unopened sports card boxes are, for that very reason, perfectly-preserved time capsules, enticing collectors and history buffs alike with the chance to own a piece of history. That’s why as your hobby boxes grow older and certain inserts go out of print, their value tends to skyrocket.
  • Sentimental Value: Interestingly, you don’t have to wait decades for the value of a hobby box to appreciate. Thanks to its growing fanbase, sports cards can quickly become extremely valuable after certain sporting events and even controversies. Whether you’re a fan of football or UFC, sports cards are a great way to show off your love for the sport while also turning a profit.

Starting Your Own Collection

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card shocked the world with its value, but it certainly won’t be the last time a sports card sells for millions. Starting your own sports card collection can be tough if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, but you can quickly get it off the ground with a little help. Head over to Giant Sports Cards for a direct line to the hottest releases of the season, along with special deals on trending hobby cases. Take your collection to the next level with us today, you might just stumble onto the next Topps Mickey Mantle card.