Rookie Card Year: 1951
Investment Rating: 9.0
In terms of collectibility in the world of baseball cards and memorabilia, few can rival, Mickey Mantle. Despite being long since retired, as well as deceased, Mickey Mantle cards continue to break new records. The release of his 1952 Topps baseball card coincided with, what has long been considered, the birth of the modern baseball card.
Mantle's all-around talent defined what scouts came to call a five-tool player. This perfectly describes Mantle's athleticism. Mantle appeared in a remarkable 12 World Series, winning seven of them. He still holds the records for most World Series home runs (18), RBI (40), runs (42), walks (43), extra-base hits (26), and total bases (123). Additionally, he won three American League MVP titles, played in 16 All-Star games, and was a Triple Crown winner in 1956. Enshrined in Cooperstown in 1974, he his regarded as one of the greats and was named to Major League Baseball's All-Century Team.
As a result of his remarkable achievements on the field and larger than life personality, Mickey Mantle cards and memorabilia are still one of the top investments in the hobby today. His game-used memorabilia can reach the stratosphere, in terms of dollars, on the rare occasions when they become available at auction. Additionally, his iconic status as an American sports legends has made him the subject of numerous figures, pieces of artwork and photographs.
Mickey Mantle Rookie Cards
Mickey Mantle's rookie card is generally considered to be from 1951 Bowman Baseball. In that same year, Wheaties cereal issued a set of eight black and white premium photographs, one of which was Mantle. Despite not being his first card, the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle deserves mention as well. Additionally in 1952, the Tip-Top Bread Company issued a label bearing his likeness, which is quite collectible, as are his 1952 Star-Cal Decal and 1952 Berk Ross cards.
As the Mickey Mantle rookie card, this card commands huge dollars on the secondary market. The fact that there are very few in top condition also contributes to the high prices. PSA has graded over a 1,000 of these cards and, to date, only one has been designated as a Gem Mint 10. It sold at auction for over $600,000, making it one of the highest amounts ever paid for a baseball card. The posed and painted card features subdued colors. Mantle's youth is unmistakable.
This is the grand-daddy of them all and, perhaps, the hobby's most iconic card. The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle started the rookie card craze of the mid-1980s when collectors realized that vintage copies of the card were starting to command huge dollars. Many were seeing greater returns than traditional investment portfolios. Oddly enough, it's not a rookie card as Bowman released one a year earlier. But it is the landmark card of one of the hobby's most important sets. The legend has overtaken any labels that might be attached to it.
For years, baseball cards were produced in multiple series with the first being printed at the start of the season and later series closer to the end. Latter series were printed in smaller quantities as the focus of children turned to the start of football season and a return to school. Mantle's card #311 was printed in a later series and, legend has it, that then Topps CEO, Sy Berger, dumped hundreds of unsold Topps cases into the Hudson River, forever sealing countless Mantle rookies in a watery tomb.
Mickey Mantle Signed Memorabilia Guide
As a result of his investment value, collectibility and overall popularity, Mickey Mantle's autograph is one of the most forged in the entire sports memorabilia market. Contributing to this is the fact that Mantle's signature changed considerably from those he penned during his playing days to those signed post-retirement. When evaluating signature items, the age of the piece must be taken into account when matching items to autograph style.
Below you will find examples of what authentic Mickey Mantle autographs look like. This can be used as a first point of reference for determining the legitimacy of autograph memorabilia, but is not a substitute for having your items authenticated by a well-respected professional autograph authentication company. Some of the trusted sources within the sports memorabilia market for authenticated Mickey Mantle autographs include the following companies: PSA, JSA, Upper Deck and Steiner. Click on any of the images below to view full size photos.
Cut Signature Exemplars
Above is an early signature example of Mickey Mantle.
Above is Mantle's later playing days and post-retirement signature.
Mickey Mantle Key Signature Attributes: Looking at the two authenticated Mickey Mantle signatures above, it's hard to believe they were penned by the same hand. Mantle was an extremely popular member of the autograph circuit in his retirement. Appealing at countless shows, legitimate sample of his penmanship are not in short supply. Unfortunately, they still do not meet demand. As such, it is important to know when an item was signed as his signature changed once a member of the circuit. Because the majority of his autographs came during this time frame, here are the signature characteristics of the later example.
- The flamboyant and matching styles of the letter's "M" are very consistent.
- The dotted letter "i" is almost always present.
- The half "y" in Mickey is common.
- The letter "t" in Mantle sometimes consists of a crossed loop resembling an "l", but not always.
- The letters "e" in both first and last name are typical cursive.
- The letter "l" in Mantle is always a loop.
Signed Baseball Pricing
Signed Bat Pricing
Signed 8x10 Photo Pricing
Despite being absent from the diamond for over 40 years, Mickey Mantle's popularity remains intact. A testament to his larger than life personality and baseball prowess that endeared him to Yankee fans of his generation and those of future ones. As a result, Mantle has no shortage of fan items available on the market. From jerseys and store model bats, figures and photographs, there are plenty of choices for fans and collectors. Provided here is an overview of some of Mantle's non-autographed collectibles and souvenirs, perfect for the Mickey Mantle fan on your shopping list.
Manufacturers: Mitchell & Ness, Mirage, Majestic
Purchasing a vintage or retro jersey of a long since retired player like Mickey Mantle, is different than purchasing one of a current player. While you can certainly customize a new Yankee's jersey with Mantle's name and number, it just isn't the same as purchasing an actual vintage or retro styled jersey. Three primary companies currently manufacture retro style jersey's; Mitchell & Ness, Mirage and Majestic. Majestic jerseys are retro styled but use current fabrics similar to modern professional jerseys.
For a jersey with the true look and feel of an authentic old-time jersey, Mitchell & Ness's Cooperstown Collection is going to be your best option. Flawlessly tailored to replicate the exact jersey Mantle wore in terms of look and feel. The Mitchell & Ness jerseys are crafted from a wool flannel blend with careful attention to period detail in terms of pinstripes, logos numbering, lettering and patches. These jerseys are currently available in home and road versions from three of Mantle's most legendary seasons 1951, 1952, 1961.
Store Model & Commemorative Bats
Manufacturers: Louisville Slugger, Hillerich Bradsby, Worth, Wilson
When you swing the lumber as sweetly as "The Mick" did, no Mickey Mantle collection should be without a store model and commemorative bat. Store model bats from the 1950's-'60s were very common for Major League Baseball's greatest players and they still are today. Sold at numerous five and dime and local sporting goods stores, the player model bats were very popular with children of the era hoping to replicate Mantle's on field talents in their own pick-up or Little League games. While several store models exist, and are authentic for the period, a couple stand out as true collectibles; those made by Lousiville Slugger or Hillerich Bradsby.
Manufacturers: Salvino, McFarlane, Hartland, Danbury Mint, Starting Line-ups, Hamilton, Sports Illustrated, Sports Impressions
Whether they are statues, bobbleheads, busts or toys, Mickey Mantle has been immortalized in three dimensions by many companies through the years. Some of the figures originally produced during his playing days, particularly the Hartland figures can be quite valuable. When it comes to figures, aesthetic value and likeness are the two most important characteristics to look for when figure shopping. The listed manufacturers are some of the higher profile companies that have produced Mickey Mantle figures through the years.
Other Mickey Mantle Collecting Guides
Find out more about Mickey Mantle cards and memorabilia by browsing our featured guides and resources below:
- Top 10 Mickey Mantle Cards of All-Time
- Ultimate Guide to 1950s Mickey Mantle Topps and Bowman Cards
- Mickey Mantle Topps Cards – 1952 to 1969
- 50 Hottest Mickey Mantle Cards - Real-Time Tracker
- Collecting Mickey Mantle Cards on a Budget - 10 Cards for Under $20
To learn more about Mickey Mantle's playing career, statistics and post-retirement life, be sure to visit these sites: