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    1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle Rookie #253 SGC Mint 9. There has always been a friendly sibling rivalry between the Bowman and Topps issues of the early 1950's, and nowhere is that dynamic more apparent than in the persona of the man whose entry serves as the key card for each. Those who favor the 1952 Topps #311 card typically argue that the concurrence of debuts for both the man and the brand that would assert dominance for many years to come over their respective fields of endeavor supplies that model with the upper hand. The Bowman defenders are likely to insist that the 1952 Topps lacks the true rookie bona fides that the 1951 vintage provides, no small distinction.

    In the end, the argument is rendered moot by the impossibility of a decisive truth, in much the same way that preference for blondes or brunettes will put some in the Marilyn Monroe camp, and others in Sofia Loren's. We can only be certain in agreement of their elite beauty.

    Both the Topps and Bowman issue offer that quality in strong supply, each image of the young phenom finding him gripping the tool of his immortality, in a left-handed stance for Topps, and switched to the right for the offered breed. The pair's long service as the poster children for post-war trading card collecting has made each as familiar as an old friend, their imagery indelibly stamped upon the public consciousness. This Bowman format sets the emerging legend against an idyllic, cloud-dappled background, evoking memories of the T3 Turkey Red issue that likewise holds favor as one of the hobby's true masterpieces of the pre-war era.

    But the bold statement from the experts at SGC emblazoned on the label instructs us that the majesty of the presented example extends far beyond the design choices of Bowman artists. This glorious representation has successfully navigated the perilous waters that has relegated all but four others to lower grades, with not a single specimen gaining superior stature.

    The complete absence of any signs of handling or storage wear is just one of the determining factors in the Mint 9 assessment, as this was an issue commonly plagued by imperfect centering and wax and gum staining. Even virginal examples have tumbled down the SGC hierarchy due to factors already existing when hatched from Truman-era wax. Here, the centering borders upon perfection, and the surfaces are delectably clean.

    But even with a clear understand of the elite quality and rarity of this important relic, one that occupies the top half of one percent in the full ranking, an ultimate sales price in the neighborhood of one million dollars will stun most laymen. But is it a purchase, or simply a transfer from one form of currency to another?

    We'd argue it's the latter. There are very few items in the full breadth of the collectibles marketplace as liquid as a high-grade Mantle rookie, and likewise very few with such a protracted and unbroken upward trend. It is also worthy of note that the market whispers suggest a growing sentiment that the Bowman is undervalued relative to the earliest Topps Mantle, which trades in the multi-millions at this Mint 9 elevation.

    Is that what the future holds for this older brother? It seems only logical.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2021
    6th-8th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 23
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,676

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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