The First $10 Million Sports Card Has Arrived

Every record is supposedly made to be broken. A new record is almost certain in the world of sports cards and sports collectibles. A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle is now likely to be the first sprots card to ever sell for $10 million or more. There are of course no guarantees mor assurances that this will happen, but either way a new record looks imminent even if the eight-digit barrier is somehow not broken.

The T206 Honus Wagner has held record after record when it comes to sports card sales, but none of the 60 or more examples have ever fetched $10 million or more dollars. UPDATE AS OF AUGUST 4, 2022 – this card’s bid of $5.9 million is now $7.08 million after the buyer’s premium. That will make this the largest known transaction for any sports card.

The August 24, 2022 auction by Heritage Auctions has many impressive items in cards and collectibles up for grabs, but the “finest known example” of the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle will take the prize here. Card #311 from the 1952 Topps Baseball Card set is none other than Mickey Mantle, and this graded example is SGC 9.5 from the 1985 “Rosen Find.” The image has been provided by Heritage Auctions.

Perfect 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle

There is no way to know what the exact sale price will be here, but Heritage’s Guide Value or Estimate was characterized as “$10,000,000 – up.” Even as of July 25, 2022, a month before the auction and ahead of the National Sports Collectors Convention, there have been 30 bids and the price has already reached a whopping $4.8 million — or $5.76 million after the buyer’s premium.

The long and fabled story dates back to a mid-1980s find by Al Rosen, a.k.a. “Mr. Mint.” Trying to paraphrase this story and explanation will do not justice, so we just expect that you should read the writeup from Heritage Auctions for the story verbatim. You won’t be alone because even with 32 days until the auction ended there have already been 17,163 page views of the story.

While this is characterized as “the finest known example” of a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, we would point out that the PSA population reports do show that there have been 3 examples at a perfect PSA 10 grade. There are another 6 examples graded as PSA 9. The PSA CardFacts site shows that the last PSA 9 sold on April 20, 2018 for $2.88 million via Heritage Auctions, and the prior sale of a PSA 9 was shown to be from a Memory Lane auction on December 15, 2006 for $282,587.50.

And for Honus Wagner’s prized T206 tobacco card, the last sale was on April 1, 2022 via Mile High Card Company at $3,136,500.00 for a mere PSA 1.