If one weekend record price for vintage baseball card collecting being set earlier this year was not enough, yet another record is about to be set for an auction of the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card. Two samples of Mickey Mantle’s rookie card set records earlier in 2015, in the same weekend, with a sale of $330,000 from Goldin Auctions and another for $382,400 from Heritage Auctions.
Now it is PWCC Auctions (Pre-War Card Collector) that is set to break the record books for a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card sale. This is also graded in the same ultra-rare PSA 8 graded category from Collectors Universe Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT), the same grade as the prior records. While there is no way to track privately negotiated transactions, those recent PSA-graded “8” Mantle card sales beat out all known prior record sales for the same card in any grade.
24/7 Wall St. would point out that the old records already were being broken as of the time this article published. The problem with auctions is that until that bidding actually ends, and until we know that bids have not been cancelled or rejected, we cannot count an auction as a final auction price even if the current auction price is above the old formal records.
What is so different about the PWCC Auctions versus the Heritage or the Goldin auctions is that this is taking place on the eBay auction format from eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY). This could be a game-changing auction, because most sellers of baseball cards are very reluctant to just throw their high-dollar merchandise like this on eBay. Still, PWCC has now had many auction items sell for more than other historical auctions have gone out at on eBay. The fees are far lower on eBay, so a seller gets to keep more of their sale — and it is at a lower cost for the buyer when it comes to buyer premiums. That being said, an auction via eBay for high-dollar items still comes with far greater risks. That is at least one of the many reasons why so many auction houses have thrived even as eBay has risen.
24/7 Wall St. communicated with Brent Huigens of PWCC Auctions in Lake Oswego, Ore. He confirmed the excitement around this 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle:
The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle is arguably the most recognized sports card in the world. It now transcends the hobby from which it sprouted to represent this nation’s most iconic sport during its golden age, and thereby signifies a true piece of Americana. What was once a pure collectible is now a valid portfolio diversification which rivals the historical performance of virtually any other investment tool available.
What matters about this Mickey Mantle “rookie” is that this card has three equally notorious issues about it, from opposite sides. The first issue is that the 1952 Topps Mantle is not really “the real rookie card” for Mickey Mantle. The true rookie card title belongs to the 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle, and there are a slightly higher number of PSA graded samples of that card. Another notorious issue with the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card is that it is now actually considered by most collectors as the face-card for vintage sports card collecting. A third issue is that the Mantle card is still nowhere near the most expensive vintage baseball card in today’s climate. There is a perhaps a fourth consideration here about “setting a new record price” versus the prior auctions that set records this year. We recently said:
Before you think that this $330,000 sale price and the $382,400 is all that there is to consider, there is actually more to the story. Auction houses charge a buyer’s premium, and the premium here from Goldin was said to be 21.5%. Heritage says that its realized price includes a 19.5% buyer’s premium, so that would imply a $320,000 sales price if there were no exceptions, versus an all-in price for the Goldin price of almost $401,000 if there were no discounts or price kickers.