Vintage baseball cards are still commanding very high auction prices. The prices realized are strong for investment grade cards, those classic and rare cards and the subsequent cards that are in nearly pristine condition for their era. Memory Lane Inc. has concluded its Fall 2021 auction.
Collectors Dashboard thought the Babe Ruth sales were impressive, right until we noticed how strong the Mickey Mantle sales were. There are some record sale prices for these Mantle card grades that go above and beyond the prices paid for the Mantle rookie cards.
The Memory Lane Fall 2021 Auction shows exactly how strong the demand is for high-end Mickey Mantle cards. What was perhaps more shocking than anything was that the strongest of the Mickey Mantle sales were not even in the rookie 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle nor in the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle that the hobby sometimes refers to as “his other rookie.”
Collectors Dashboard evaluates high-end collectibles as an alternative assets class. It is more than evident that investors are buying certain cards and memorabilia items with the same cash that could have otherwise gone into stocks or bonds. Just keep in mind that if there are no assured profits in stocks and bonds then there are definitely no guaranteed profits in sports cards and sports memorabilia.
The number one sale from the Fall 2021 Memory Lane Auction was a 1953 Bowman #59 Mickey Mantle PSA 9 Mint condition card. This beautiful example rarely is an auction leader even if it can command a high price. The 1953 Bowman Mantle had an opening bid of $20,000.00 but it sold for $473,793.60 after 65 bids.
According to the PSA sales records of all PSA-graded 1953 Bowman Mantle cards, this was nearly 15-times higher than a PSA 8.5 that sold for $31,200 at a Goldin Auctions sale on August 11, 2021. And on June 11, 2021, Memory Lane sold a PSA 8.5 for $29,724.00. The reality is that no other 1953 Bowman sale we have tracked has come close recently — and this was the single highest price card in the entire Memory Lane auction even above the top Babe Ruth sale.
Another surprise was that a 1955 Bowman #202 Mickey Mantle graded PSA 9 Mint came in second place at Memory Lane among the Mickey Mantle cards. This 1955 Bowman set is loved by some collectors and completely discounted by other collectors. Either way, the wooden edge appearance of the TV screen design makes any blemishes stand out handily. Memory Lane had an opening bid of $25,000.00 and sold for $375,483.60 after 52 bids.
Here were some of the other key sales that were seen in Memory Lane’s Fall 2021 auction:
- 1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle PSA 8 NM-MT had an opening bid of $75,000.00 and sold for $372,608.40 after 28 bids.
- 1962 Topps #200 Mickey Mantle PSA 9 Mint had an opening bid of $10,000.00 and sold for $314,579.00 after 54 bids.
- 1957 Topps #95 Mickey Mantle PSA 9 Mint had an opening bid of $20,000.00 and sold for $209,794.00 after 42 bids.
- 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle SGC 7 NM had an opening bid of $50,000.00 and sold for $184,736.00 after 22 bids.
- 1956 Topps #135 Mickey Mantle PSA 9 Mint had an opening bid of $20,000.00 and sold for $149,794.00 after 36 bids.
- 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle PSA 6 EX-MT had an opening bid of $30,000.00 and sold for $105,306.00 after 25 bids.
- 1959 Topps #10 Mickey Mantle PSA 9 Mint had an opening bid of $20,000.00 and sold for $98,562.00 after 30 bids.
- 1953 Topps #82 Mickey Mantle PSA 8 NM-MT had an opening bid of $20,000.00 and sold for $89,399.00 after 27 bids.
- 1958 Topps #150 Mickey Mantle PSA 9 Mint had an opening bid of $12,500.00 and sold for $77,917.00 after 31 bids.
- 1963 Topps #200 Mickey Mantle PSA 9 Mint had an opening bid of $12,500.00 and sold for $74,207.00 after 21 bids.
- 1964 Topps #50 Mickey Mantle PSA 9 Mint had an opening bid of $7,500.00 and sold for $68,125.00 after 34 bids.
- 1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle PSA 6 EX-MT had an opening bid of $17,500.00 and sold for $67,420.00 after 24 bids.
- 1962 Topps #18 Mantle/Mays Managers Dream PSA 9 had an opening bid of $10,000.00 and sold for $65,005.00 after 30 bids.
Where this is interesting is that these 15 Mickey Mantle cards alone came to a grand total of more than $2.7 million in this one auction. And we thought we were impressed by the Babe Ruth sales in the same auction.
Another oddity that does not come up for auction very often is a Mickey Mantle player contract. A fully executed 1953 uniform players contract signed by Mantle (earning him just $17,500 for that year), with an opening bid of just $9,000.00, there were 38 bids which came to an ending (virtual) gavel price of $86,236.
It is not every day that you see other Mickey Mantle cards out-sell a PSA 8 grade on the 1951 Bowman card and the 1952 Topps Mantle card in any strong condition. (PSA 9 Mantle 1953 Bowman image from Memory Lane)