The most expensive post-World War II trading card, a mint condition 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for a world record $2,880,000 in Heritage’s spring Sports Card Catalog Auction, which registered total sales of $9.83 million across 1,900 lots.
“We knew the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card would take top-lot honors but another early Mantle, a 1951 Bowman, grabbed attention with a record price of its own for the issue,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “The press for this auction was significant and we could certainly see the effects of some new players in the market.”
The $2.88 million Mantle is from the private collection of former NFL lineman and Super Bowl Champion Evan Mathis. It is one of just six examples graded Mint 9 by PSA and its winning bid surpassed the card’s previous auction record by a staggering $2.6 million, when the last Mint 9 Mantle crossed the auction block more than a decade ago.
Mantle’s magic extended beyond the record-setting Mint 9. Showing no signs of handling or storage wear, the 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle #253, PSA Mint 9, sold for $750,000 and a 1952 Topps, PSA NM 7, ended at $120,000.
Universally considered Babe Ruth’s rookie card, an extraordinarily rare 1916 M101-5 Sporting News (Blank Back) Babe Ruth #151, PSA NM 7, closed at $384,000. One of the hobby’s most sought-after cards, its superb condition places it among just three specimens in this grade.
The finest 1948 Leaf Warren Spahn #32 known to exist, graded a Gem Mint 10 by PSA, ended at $192,000. The “pack fresh” specimen is a fitting tribute to Spahn’s 363 victories, which has never been bested in the Live Ball era. Speaking of fresh packs, a factory-sealed 1975 Topps Baseball Unopened Cello Case sold for $102,000.
A 1948 Leaf Satchel Paige #8, PSA NM 7 – in a remarkable state of preservation for the card’s short print – realized $84,000.
Additional highlights include:
- $78,000: 1925 Exhibits Lou Gehrig, SGC 50 VG/EX 4
- $72,120: 1916 M101-5 Sporting News (Blank Back) Joe Jackson #86, PSA NM-MT 8
- $72,000: 1954 Topps Hank Aaron #128, PSA NM-MT+ 8.5
- $40,800: 1917-20 M101-6 Felix Mendelsohn Babe Ruth, SGC 40 VG 3, the first card issued of Ruth with the New York Yankees
- $38,400: 1888 N338-2 S.F. Hess Mickey Welch, SGC 40 VG 3, from a newly-discovered collection
- $36,000: 1959 Bazooka Mickey Mantle, SGC 88 NM/MT 8
Heritage Auctions’ next offering is its spring Sports Memorabilia Catalog Auction #50002, which is now open for bidding and will close in Extended Bidding format at 10 p.m. CST May 17-18.