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    1952 Bowman Mickey Mantle #101 PSA Mint 9--Only Two Superior! Though this legendary slugger made his pinstriped debut with the 1951 New York Yankees, his inaugural campaign was an uneven affair punctuated by struggles at the plate and in the field, a minor league demotion, and even a flirtation with the idea to quit the game entirely. It was in 1952 that the first bolded text appeared in the Mick's stat line, a .924 OPS that led all American Leaguers and elevated the twenty-year old Oklahoman to a third place showing in MVP voting. Free from the shadow of the great DiMaggio, Mantle embarked upon his quest to become the greatest center fielder in baseball history this year.

    But when it came to that season's cardboard wars between the historic debut of the Topps Baseball issue and the refinement of the entrenched Bowman brand, most collectors have turned the bulk of their attention to the former. It's not that we don't understand that compulsion--Topps would go on to dominate the market for decades to come, and everybody loves the first chapter of a great success story. But you can count us among the hobbyists who feel that the proportions are a bit skewed.

    It's been a few months since global headlines trumpeted the setting of a new world record when a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 in a PSA Mint 9 slab changed hands for an earthshaking $5.2 million, establishing it as the most expensive trading card on the planet. And it's a card that fully deserves that kind of price tag--you'll hear no arguments from us to the contrary.

    But that card is only twice as rare at a Mint 9 level than the offered contemporary Bowman, and there are actually three Gem Mint 10 Topps at this vintage, compared to only two for Bowman. So where, exactly, should this raving beauty fall in the pricing hierarchy?

    While there's no question that legions would scoff at the notion that a baseball card is undervalued at a pre-auction estimate of half a million dollars-plus, there is a strong mathematical argument to made that they're wrong. Even in what could reasonably be considered the greatest bull market in the history of the trade, there will inevitably be commodities that remain well short of their full and true potential. We'd identify the 1952 Bowman Mantle as an example of this phenomenon.

    Is the Topps card of the same vintage and the same grade truly worth ten times the Bowman? It's hard to answer that question in the affirmative. It becomes even more difficult when one steps away from the bloodless analytics of population and company histories and engages with this card as the true work of art that it is. Aesthetics will always be a matter of taste, of course, but these early 1950's Bowmans have long stood among our favorite designs in the full breadth of The Standard Catalog.

    Will the historic sale of that record 1952 Topps card prove to be a tide that lifts this boat to its own personal record? We're about to find out. Place your qualifying bids early, because we suspect some heavy hitters are going to make serious play for ownership now that this vintage and this athlete rule the hobby world.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2021
    6th-8th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 8
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,873

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