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The time has come, time to purchase the 52 topps Mickey Mantle card

Hello fellow collectors! I have been putting the daddy of all sets together, the 1952 topps basic set. Currently I am 42.75% of the way through with most of my cards being many 5's, more 6's, and a few 7's. The time has come for me to get 311 out of the way. I have saved and planned for this, so now the hard part is tracking down a PSA 5 or PSA 6 for Mr. Mantle. I have a little over 25k to put towards the card. Lately it seems like 311 goes up in value every month, so now is the time. I'm writing this and getting the word out ... and asking my fellow collectors in helping me locate #311 Mickey Mantle in a 5 or 6.
I have a "source" that is willing to sell me his PSA 4 for 11k, but my taste buds want something a little better. I was exchanging emails with Levi from 707 Sportscards, and he mentioned a 4.5 went for 35k in a Goodwin auction recently, that's scary! Am I wrong in thinking my 25k should get me a 5 or 6? Or should I go ahead and get the 4? Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated. Thank all of you for your time.
-Chris

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    KbKardsKbKards Posts: 1,782 ✭✭✭
    11k for a 4 in today's market sounds like a scam. If the seller and card is legit you can't go wrong buying it, but I would seriously doubt that anybody who owns that card would give it away so cheap. Know who you are buying it from, know what you're buying, and either buy it in person or pay with recoverable funds. 20k-25k will get you an ugly to nice 5. A 6 would have to be very unattractive and off center two ways to maybe get down close to 25k. The 36.4k 4.5 card was a freak sale that went for what a couple people thought the card inside the holder was worth and it wouldn't have mattered if the label said it was a 5 or 6.
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    GriffinsGriffins Posts: 6,076 ✭✭✭
    I'd agree with what KB says. If you don't already have a subscription to vcp I'd sign up and study past sales. Then put out word to the usual dealers that you're looking for one- Levi, Brian Wentz, Marty, Tony Arnold, as well as Net 54 etc
    Lastly, wait for a good one and don't swing at the first pitch. Better a lower technical grade with great eye appeal than a slider- you've got to figure many Mantle's have been resubmitted looking for a bump, and you don't want to pay for the one that got it after many tries.
    Best of luck!

    Always looking for Topps Salesman Samples, pre '51 unopened packs, E90-2, E91a, N690 Kalamazoo Bats, and T204 Square Frame Ramly's

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    DM23HOFDM23HOF Posts: 2,114 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>11k for a 4 in today's market sounds like a scam. If the seller and card is legit you can't go wrong buying it, but I would seriously doubt that anybody who owns that card would give it away so cheap. Know who you are buying it from, know what you're buying, and either buy it in person or pay with recoverable funds. 20k-25k will get you an ugly to nice 5. A 6 would have to be very unattractive and off center two ways to maybe get down close to 25k. The 36.4k 4.5 card was a freak sale that went for what a couple people thought the card inside the holder was worth and it wouldn't have mattered if the label said it was a 5 or 6. >>



    Just as Griffins said, KbK knows his stuff. Listen to his advice. Very smart counsel there. I was the winner of that 4.5 and I always buy only the card and judge it myself, no matter what the number on the holder says. Unfortunately for me, there are at least a few other collectors out there who select for their collections the same way image

    When it comes to Mantles, that is perhaps the main card where one should buy based on eye appeal-- in other words choose the best card and not the highest numbered holder. Centering and an immaculate blue surface and portrait are what really separate the most aesthetically pleasing#311s from the rest. Just shop around and ask yourself what's more commonly seen for the card: a square corner or centering and clear blue sky background?

    More and more, with cards below say the 7 grade, we are seeing that guys are seeking eye appeal over number grade. After all, you are looking at the card and not the sticker on top, once it's in your hand and your collection. The highest grades like 7-10 can still blind some guys.

    If you get hung up on numerical grade for a Registry GPA, you can wind up paying big money for an OC or tilted or scuffed up 5 or 6 that will never perform at auction because it simply does not stand out from the rest. Granted, what constitutes eye appeal is all in the eye of the beholder (not holder, LOL), and so whichever one you deem best with the grades covered is the card you like best.

    As to price, I can assure you that 25k simply will not get you a centered 5 or 6. As Kbk said, and I agree, 25k in this current market will get you an ugly to merely okay 5. Anyone with a strong 5 and who is not in a financial tight spot will hold it until they get at least 30k.

    The salient point here is that, as one gets to really know the market for this card and a few hundred (at least) of the extant specimens and their various personalities and flaws, there is simply a HUGE volatility in price based on eye appeal and centering within any give grade. VCP data will bear this out. You have 3s that will have a tough time getting 12k, and 3s that will fly off the shelf at 14-15k, for example.

    The last six changed hands twice in the 30k range with the last price being 36k. A pretty nice 5 sold at heritage for 28k and that owner has been very firm asking 32k before the Goodwin sale and now 35k. The 4.5 with above average centering and rough upper right corner sold for 17k+ and is now listed at 25k. If that card could be had for 18-20k it's a nice one. I can also say that two PSA 3s have sold privately in the last two weeks at 14.4k and 15k+.

    Basically, it will come down to what satisfies you, what you want in the card. If you can live with tilt and the usual centering and surface flaws, you can definitely find one you'll dig at 25k.

    Can't say it better than Griffins did:

    "Better a lower technical grade with great eye appeal..."

    Like he said, VCP is your friend, and it will pay off if you study past scans, and what each card went for and likely why. Go on HA.com and The Registry, too, take in and study as many examples as you can, so you can decide exactly what you want in your eventual Mantle. And what you're willing to pay for it.
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    Guys thanks for the response, I do appreciate your input. KbKards, as for that PSA 4 he has, I have held and seen the card. He has a PSA 6 in his set and was content holding on to it after he upgraded. I see the guy often as he lives very close and we play golf with each other from time to time. I've been in his house and he has a very impressive collection. So it's definitely legit. I just want a PSA 5! LOL

    I've just started getting the word out as I have only spoken with Levi from 707. I will also get in contact with Net 54 as Griffins pointed out, but I'm not sure who Brian Wentz, Marty, and Tony Arnold are. Do you mind letting me know who those guys are and what company they are affiliated with? I'm new to the boards as you can see I'm not too familiar with some of the happenings on here. And what is VCP by the way?

    Appreciate the help fellas, and thank you in advance. -Chris
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    DM23HOF - Wow thanks for that. Looking more and more like its gonna be a 4 guys. Kinda disappointing - when I started this set, a 5 could be had for 18-20k. The last 2 years have not helped me in this situation. His 4 looks strong, centered well ... just soft corners. But it does have great eye appeal with the blue almost popping out at me. I just want a 5, and not a tilted 5 or an OC of any kind. arggghhh!
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    DM23HOFDM23HOF Posts: 2,114 ✭✭✭✭✭
    VCP is vintagecardprices.com. I've had a renewing subscription there for years and it is invaluable information. When I buy a card, I look at every available scan of past sold examples in my range. I get to know what the usual flaws are. And then when I am targeting a specimen, I generally will not buy it unless it looks tops in its grade and on par with those graded higher. Just my philosophy but it has done me well over the years.
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    DM23HOFDM23HOF Posts: 2,114 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>DM23HOF - Wow thanks for that. Looking more and more like its gonna be a 4 guys. Kinda disappointing - when I started this set, a 5 could be had for 18-20k. The last 2 years have not helped me in this situation. His 4 looks strong, centered well ... just soft corners. But it does have great eye appeal with the blue almost popping out at me. I just want a 5, and not a tilted 5 or an OC of any kind. arggghhh! >>



    PGA,

    If it is centered and has great blue in a 4 holder, I and many veteran collectors I know would take that every day ALL DAY over a 5 that has obvious eye appeal issues. Don't let the grading game override your eyes-- a collector's eye trumps all. If every collector would prefer that lovely 4 over a bunch of "meh" 5s were they all raw on a table, then the 4 is the best card.

    As even the grading companies will tell you point blank on their web sites, they are rendering an OPINION. That is why we see some 3s sell for more than a 4, etc.
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    Guys I know I'm new on here so this is going to sound shady but it is the Gods honest truth. After work today (I'm a PGA Pro in Myrtle Beach and was on the lesson tee most of the day when I wasn't responding to this thread), and while on the road home I called my buddy who has the PSA 4 he was going to sell me for 11k. Again, I've seen the card, been in his house and have seen his entire collection. Apparently last time we talked I mentioned to him that I was going for a 5 ... And that was when it was at 17,500 and didn't really have the steam it seems to have now. He did say that he had the card for some time, and wasn't at all disappointed and even said he had no plans of selling it.

    Well that changed 3 weeks ago, when a guy he deals with, finally beat him down and got him to sell/trade (he said most was cash) the PSA 4 for 11k. After I told him that I was back to being serious about his Mantle, he was sick. I could hear it in his voice. And he did say he thought I was sure about the 5. And I was!

    But after reading what you guys have had to to say, I'm kicking myself right now. No worries though, guess the search will continue without that one. I know this isn't an overnight purchase, but hopefully something can happen sooner or later. Patience is a virtue - one trait I don't demonstrate well. Gotta keep myself in check and not jump at the first possibility.

    Thanks again everyone! Keep your eyes peeled for me!

    Trying to figure out how to link my set but here it is so far ...
    http://www.psacard.com/PSASetRegistry/publishedset.aspx?s=129034&ac=1
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    DM23HOFDM23HOF Posts: 2,114 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Wow. Your buddy left about 10k+ on the table if it was centered. 11k for a nice 4 is the steal price of the century.
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    Since we are talking about it, I'd like a 52 Mantle as well...but I'd take a 1 as long as I could tell what card it was...what does something like that go for?
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    GriffinsGriffins Posts: 6,076 ✭✭✭
    just noticed the May Heritage auction preview is online, with at least 3 '52 Mantles.

    Always looking for Topps Salesman Samples, pre '51 unopened packs, E90-2, E91a, N690 Kalamazoo Bats, and T204 Square Frame Ramly's

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    I saw that too, saw a 6 and a 3 on there ... Didn't see the 3rd one though. I'll have to back and find the other one. Thanks Griffins
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    DM23HOFDM23HOF Posts: 2,114 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I personally would pass on that 6 every time; the combination of heavy tilt and heavy top border toning would be sufficient to keep my finger off the trigger. The 3 is also pretty low end considering the last pair of PSA 3s I have seen sell, which looked far better. It's all about patience with that famous #311.

    1952 Topps Mickey Mantles are just like baseball, you have to wait for your pitch, then knock it out the parkimage
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    << <i>I personally would pass on that 6 every time; the combination of heavy tilt and heavy top border toning would be sufficient to keep my finger off the trigger. The 3 is also pretty low end considering the last pair of PSA 3s I have seen sell, which looked far better. It's all about patience with that famous #311.

    1952 Topps Mickey Mantles are just like baseball, you have to wait for your pitch, then knock it out the parkimage >>



    Well said HOF, but you think that 6 is heavily tilted? I do see the top border being off, but honestly didn't look that bad to me ... gonna go and inspect more. I will say, I had a guy PM me and has one to get rid of. If we can come to agreement which is looking very promising, the purchase will happen at the National show in July. Waiting on some scans so we'll see. Thanks everyone ... glad to have a platform to talk about these issues.
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    KbKardsKbKards Posts: 1,782 ✭✭✭
    I personally would pass on that 6 every time; the combination of heavy tilt and heavy top border toning would be sufficient to keep my finger off the trigger. The 3 is also pretty low end considering the last pair of PSA 3s I have seen sell, which looked far better. It's all about patience with that famous #311.

    At the right price it would be just as good of a deal as paying too much of a premium for a nicer card. The bid increments and buyer's premium will cause there to be a magic number which represents the best spot to be for what you value the card. Be the first one to put that in as a ceiling bid and you'll either win it at the right price or force somebody to overpay for the card in your opinion.
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    DM23HOFDM23HOF Posts: 2,114 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Agreed. I was speaking strictly in terms of selection for a collection, with goal being the most eye appealing example. Absolutely there's a price that would make that 6 a great deal, in terms of investment and flip profit. No doubt.
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    Thanks guys ... I think it said bidding opens 4/25. By that time I should know if we have a deal in place for the Mantle from the guy who PM'd me. If not I will make a play for the 6 on Heritage for sure. Let me ask ... if you guys were me, what amount would you throw on a bid for that 6? Thanks peeps!
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    DM23HOFDM23HOF Posts: 2,114 ✭✭✭✭✭
    PGA, it is all about personal choice, when we are talking about a collection. For me, yes, the tilt, the crookedness of the way that image is sitting, would make it undesirable to me. I would much rather wait for a better centered, untitled example to come up for sale and then jump all over it. My advice, if you haven't already done so, would be to spend considerable time (it's rather fun) looking at all past sold examples in the grade range you desire, say 5s to 6s. Get a feel for what cards are out there in that range, what they look like. If you see several that blow this 6 out of the water, then you have to ask yourself things like, "Would I be unhappy with this 6 knowing better ones are out there? Would I be settling on my eye appeal goal just to get this one right now? Would I be happier with one of the better looking examples in the grade?" These are all things to consider and a lot of personal taste for one's own collection comes into play.

    As to a good price to pay, again several factors determine this. One's budget. One's investment horizon; how long one intends to hold the card before ever selling. One's motive: for a collector or for a quick flip. And if for a collection, is this "the" one for you, the one you love, that meets all your eye appeal criteria-- or is it merely a placeholder and you intend to upgrade if a nicer centered 6 suddenly comes along? All these are factors that help form your valuation and bid. The more guys who deem a card "the" one for them, the more desirable it will be and the higher above the average it will soar. Also to consider is that this particular card has always been hot, is the standard bearer of the market, and overall there is strong money being paid for cards right now by lots of collectors, both vets and newcomers. I see many guys personally who are in their early 40s getting heavily into cards, looking for the best, too.

    Here is a comparison of a PSA 6 from someone's Registry Set, and the PSA 6 that Heritage currently has up for auction. This is just my two cents, but I could never drop good money on the weaker card, when I know there are others in that same grade that blow it away like this. If I were searching for a 6, it would have to be this great-looking 6 or one that looks very, very close. Of course the good 6 here would cost a serious premium over the Heritage example, but as a collector I'd happily pay way more for the nicer card. If someone paid X for the Heritage one, I'd pay X++++++ for this other beautiful 6.

    If you focus on the lower left border versus the lower right of the Heritage example, the tilt becomes quite glaring. One border is much thicker than the other.

    Also, bear in mind the color intensity. The Heritage scan is clearly taken on a different setting. Look how intense the red is on the PSA flip. How white the white is. And yet the toning along the top border is very evident. This will be worse in person. Whereas the better 6 is a much darker scan.

    image

    image
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    HOF that's some good info there I do appreciate that. As for me, I'm strictly a collector and do not have any plans of trying to sell or get rid of any of my cards. I do have a few extra graded 52's that I upgraded, maybe I'll trade or sell em down the road. But as for the set, I would not consider selling at any point. The set represents too much to me to just sell it after all the work and time I've put into it.

    So seeing that 6 you pulled from another registry versus the Heritage 6 is strikingly different. I will say that a small small tilt wouldn't bother me, and as long as the picture is mostly centered, I'm fine with that just as long it's no more than 60/40 from top to bottom. But the coloring in the 6 on Heritage is scary. Almost a brown kind of look to it? After seeing that, I think that takes me out of the picture for that card. Too many red flags there. This will be my "show case" card and I do want it to look as best as possible. Yes the grade is important to me for set registry purposes .... Which is why a good 5 would suffice. All the while staying within that budget, that may grow a little more as time passes. I'll monitor the Heritage card but probably won't pull the trigger.

    I will have fun with this and you're right, this should be the most fun time collecting this set since I have gotten to this point. I just feel now that the time had come, that I have to do it asap, but the reality is that I will wait and when I see it, I'll hopefully know it and be able to get it then. Just told a buddy yesterday that I feel like all the 4's,5's, and 6's are gone. I know that's not true but it's like I want it now, ya know?

    Thanks again for the info HOF .... you opened my eyes on some things. I'll keep you guys posted. Hopefully the guy who PM'd me has one that's good to go. I'm just ready to have 311 in my possession. Patience will be demonstrated here I promise
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    KbKardsKbKards Posts: 1,782 ✭✭✭
    If you look at the pictures of all the 6's in VCP the Heritage card is better looking overall than most of the others. This means odds are the next 6's to become available to you won't be as nice. The perfect looking six found in somebody's registry set isn't available to you, and if it were it would be well out of any price range you could justify paying. All PSA 6's have condition issues and the card you buy will need to have some obvious issues in order to keep the price down. The centering on the Heritage 6 is better than most cards in VCP. As far as how the toning in the border area affects the overall look of the card, look at the VCP pictures for surface wear issues affecting the main picture area of the card and ask yourself which defect has a greater impact on the overall appearance of the card. It's really not that bad of a card when you compare it to what else you will see, and it is a real card from a real seller. A PM offering a PSA 6 at what you want to pay needs to be looked at very cautiously. Nobody is giving this card away right now at a cheap price.
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    Congrats on working the big set. I love the 52's but kids in college, anyway. Just my opinion here but the few high dollar cards I've purchased in the past, I chose a different route. If your working the 52 Topps, I assume you have a very good knowledge of the series and are fairly confident about your abilities to grade the set. Why not consider a raw example and then send it to PSA yourself. True there are a lot of bad Mantles out there but you could save some money and if you're working with a reputable dealer, that along with your own knowledge of the series, you should be alright in the end. I've used this method with all my high dollar cards and have never went wrong. Anyway, I just wanted to give my two cents worth. Good luck with the set !
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    KbKards, you're right about what yourevsaying in regards to that 6 in general. The perfect 6 isnt out there, at least not righ now. The 6 on Heritage doesn't bother me really at all. Not sure what that coloring is on the borders though. Any idea? Current bid is already 22k (26 and change with premium) but I think it will settle down here soon. Getting rid of the riff raff I guess?

    Hey running man thanks for the comments. I have thought about a raw Mantle but honestly, I don't think I've ever seen one in decent condition. I've seen a few fakes! One on eBay a year or so ago. It actually made a few of us do a double take, but in the end he ended up taking it off after getting bombarded with questions. I'm sure there's a raw Mantle out there but very skeptical on any raw 311 at this point. With PSA and SGC as the big boy graders in my opinion, and with that kind of money at stake, I'd feel a lot more comfortable buying it graded.

    I will say it has been a great time putting this set together. Without the support of my awesome hot wife, none of this would be possible. I think about the day when telling her I'm ready to spend 30k on a baseball card, not really casual conversation there that day. But she's been supportive and knows all about the 52 topps set and all its little intricacies. We're glad we're at this point, now it's time to find the one for our collection. Should be a fun search!

    My 52 Topps Set
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    CWCW Posts: 1,202 ✭✭✭
    I hope you can find that perfect Mantle, Chris! '52 Topps is an iconic set,
    and I give you credit for attempting to complete it. Gorgeous cards, those '52s.

    As someone who has recently gone through a hunt for a Mantle, I can relate
    to the hobby excitement you're feeling right now. I can't add much more to
    the great info already given by Matt (HOF) and KB, among others, but I will
    echo the comment that patience is a virtue. Being knowledgeable on the '52
    set, you already know the Mantle is not a rare card overall -- if you miss out on
    one example, another one is always looming around the corner.

    Another cool tool for finding this card is using bid-brain
    (http://bid-brain.com/), a helpful site developed by Dan S.
    This search tool will search for this card across multiple auctions, and email
    you with weekly updates. In my case, I was doing a search of:

    1952 topps mantle (psa, sgc)

    Finally, here's the example I picked up recently. Not quite up to the grade
    level for which you're aiming, but it's a nice "3". image Good luck!


    image
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    CW thank you for that website. I'll defintly utilize that in my search. And my patience is being tested, but people like you and the other guys on this thread are keeping me in check. Awesome looking Mantle you have there too BTW.

    Theres a couple out there now, but nothing seems to be happening. Watching people bid on my card and fly right by my budget isn't fun. Reality is starting to set in that I may be thinking too big. Only time will tell, hopefully I get lucky.

    Thanks everyone for the kind words, and for the insight ... Greatly appreciated



    My 52 Topps set
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    blee1blee1 Posts: 713 ✭✭✭
    Have you picked it up yet?
    Skips PSA Exchange
    Successful transactions with: yankeeno7, raiderguy10, Beck6, CDsNuts, DaveP01, Dboneesq, Elemenopeo, gameusedhoop, georgebailey2, Goldlabels, gstarling, justmichael, etc

    Working on.........
    Tony Dorsett Master Set
    1977 Topps Mexican FB (raw)
    1957 Topps FB Set (raw or graded)
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    I did pick mine up. Got it this past June and it's a PSA 5. Still gotta long way to go for the set but glad I got this one outta the way.
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    59Horsehide59Horsehide Posts: 427 ✭✭✭
    It would be great to see a pic of your 5. I enjoyed this thread as it presents a ton of good advice for anyone looking for key cards in any set.

    Jim
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    I consider myself pretty technologically savvy, but I'm having the damnedest time attaching a photo of this card. What am I missing? I'm choosing the photo outta my pictures (iPhone 5) and then trying to upload em on the next screen, but keeps booting me off. I'll post this thing when my brain starts working.

    You can see here in my registry the population and such ... But no photo yet

    My 52 Set
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