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How a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Card Became the Hobby’s New GOAT

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle “Rosen Finest” has sold for a record $12.6 million at Heritage Auctions. Here’s why that matters for hobbyists.

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle “Finest Known Example” was at auction at Heritage over the last month and, last weekend, sold for a record $12.6 million. According to Heritage, that’s an all-time record for a sports collectible, making it the most valuable card in the world.

Needless to say, this is a grail card for any collector. Mantle is one of the greatest and most popular baseball players of all-time, this 1952 Topps card is his rookie edition, and this particular “Finest Known Example” has an interesting backstory, as well.

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Rosen’s Finest Mickey Mantle

In 1985, avid sports card dealer Alan Rosen purchased 5,500 1952 Topps cards, including 75 copies of the famed Mantle card, for $125,000. That’s roughly $344,000 today, when adjusted for inflation. Rosen actually sold this particular copy for $2,000. Then, he purchased it again in 1991 for $40,000, believing this was the best copy of the card in the collection.

Rosen later sold the card yet again to an anonymous owner for $50,000. The card remained in raw condition for 30 years before entering the Heritage Auction. It ended up receiving a 9.5 from SGC, which is pretty damn good for a card that stayed raw for 70 years.

What Would a PSA 10 Be Worth?

While this card may be the finest example in the set that Rosen purchased, there are three PSA 10s out in the wild. Rumor has it that one of the owners was offered $25 million, but turned it down. By a rough estimate, one would be worth about $30 million, which would be the highest record sale of any trading card ever and more than four times what the famed 1909 T206 Honus Wagner sold for.

What It Means for the Hobby

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle “Rosen Finest” may have sold for higher during the pandemic boom, but this record sale means great things for the hobby. It shows that there is still plenty of interest, and vintage cards are moving to the forefront of collecting. Newer collectors and hobbyists are focusing on ultra-modern sets while seasoned collectors are focusing more on vintage cards.

This sale will certainly bring more eyes onto the hobby, which will lead to more new collectors and investors in a time where most card values are starting to correct and plateau. This is the perfect time for an influx of new collectors to join the hobby and this sale will certainly reel them in.

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Brett Pickert