CSG Certifies a Distinctively Altered 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Card

Posted on 2/23/2023

Although a large portion of the card is missing, CSG was still able to authenticate the submitter's iconic item.

Few sports cards garner interest among collectors and baseball fans like the 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle card. While high-grade versions will always be the most sought-after, there are some fascinating altered versions that can still command thousands of dollars for the chance to own an example of the hobby’s most famous card.

The experts at Certified Sports Guaranty® (CSG®) recently certified a 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle as authentic, even though the background section had been removed from the card. Someone (perhaps a young collector decades ago) cut around the edge of Mantle’s portrait, altering the original shape of the rectangular baseball card. In addition, the layer of the card that shows Mantle’s bio and stats on the back has been removed. Therefore, CSG experts added a notation to the holder referencing the alteration as “Skinned Back.”

1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle Type 1 "Skinned Back" graded CSG Authentic Altered
Click images to enlarge.

The legendary 1952 Topps card is the holy grail of any collection. That was once again proven last year as the card made headlines at multiple auctions. In a December 10, 2022 sale, a 1952 Topps #311 graded CSG 8 became the first card certified by CSG to break $1 million when it realized $1,253,185. Less than 20 cards across the globe are graded higher than the CSG 8 example out of around 2,000 in existence. In an August 2022 auction, one of those high-grade examples sold for $12.6 million, which set the record for the most expensive sports card ever sold at auction.

However, with such a popular and rare card that dates back seven decades, there are also numerous distinctly altered examples on the market like the recent "Skinned Back" version. For instance, in early 2022, CSG certified an altered 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle that had been trimmed to the black border surrounding the card. It also has two holes punched in the top corners. The removal cut off Mantle’s name and a portion of his statistics that are on the reverse side of the famous card. This 1952 Topps #311 certified CSG Authentic Altered drew attention on eBay in early 2022, when it received 74 bids and sold for $11,877.

1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle graded CSG Authentic Altered
Click images to enlarge.

In May 2022, CSG experts certified a 1952 Topps #311 with restorations, including extensive color added. CSG experts authenticated the card, with a notation on the label referencing the addition of extensive color, for the benefit of future collectors who may encounter this card.

1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle graded CSG AA - Restoration - Including Extensive Color Additions
Click images to enlarge.

Purchasing an altered version of an authentic #311 Mickey Mantle is still an attractive option for many collectors, especially given the higher costs of numerically graded cards. In each of these cases, CSG’s expertise is essential. You can find out more about the CSG Grading Scale here.

Mickey Mantle played his entire iconic 18-season career with the New York Yankees. Within a few years of his MLB debut, Mantle was already a superstar in the league as he won the Triple Crown in 1956, leading the league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in (RBIs). He would finish his career with a Gold Glove Award, three American League MVPs and seven World Series championships. Mantle’s astounding career cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players in MLB history.

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