CGC Cards Certifies 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 Card with Intriguing Backstory

Posted on 5/4/2024

Inadvisably trimmed decades ago, the card still brought thousands of dollars at auction, and its new owner promptly sought CGC Cards' expert authentication services.

Recently, an example of one of the most iconic baseball cards ever created was certified by CGC Cards™ after it was purchased in a Heritage Auctions sale. Unaware the card would one day be one of the most valuable cards in the hobby, its original owner trimmed it after purchasing it decades ago, according to the auction house.

The successful bidder paid thousands of dollars for the 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle - Type 2 in Heritage's Spring Sports Card Catalog Auction #70011 on March 22, 2024. The bidder then made the prudent decision to promptly submit it to CGC Cards, which certified it as an Authentic Altered example.

1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle Type 2 graded CGC AA
Click images to enlarge.

The auction house recounts the history of this particular Mantle card: Before the sale, it had only one owner — the person who pulled the card out of a pack in 1952. The original owner began collecting in 1948 when the first Bowman baseball set was released. While many kids at the time preferred the larger-sized cards of the mid-1950s, the owner of the 1952 Mantle card was partial to the smaller Bowman issues from 1948 to 1950.

Therefore, when the owner opened packs of 1952 Topps Baseball cards, he chose to trim them down in size to match his favorite Bowman issues of 1950. He meticulously cut the 1952 Topps cards into the correct dimensions of a 1950 Bowman card, including the 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle. Offered for the first time since it was pulled from a pack upon release, the altered card represents the opportunity to complete a set. Typically, numerically graded examples of this card command five-figure sums in lower grades.

The 1952 Topps Baseball set is one of the most revered sports card sets ever issued. The 407-card series revolutionized the hobby with its unique images, bright colors and increase in size, quality and quantity. The set paved the way for modern sports cards but was underappreciated in the hobby during its day. Released in six separate series, the high-numbered cards like the #311 Mickey Mantle were overlooked upon release.

The cards were underappreciated so much so that the New York City-based Topps company allegedly dumped tons of unsold card cases in a nearby waterway, which led to the set's current scarcity. Only around 2,000 of the #311 cards are believed to survive today, with only a handful graded 8 or higher. In that high of a grade and rarity, the Mantle card can sell for over a million dollars. In fact, in a December 2022 auction, a #311 Mantle card graded CGC 8 realized over $1.2 million.

When the card came out in 1952, Mantle was in only his second year in New York wearing the famous Yankees pinstripes. This small-town kid from Oklahoma would go on to become a baseball legend. That same season, the athletic center fielder earned his first All-Star selection and helped the Yankees win another World Series. In 1969, Mantle retired as the greatest switch-hitter to ever play the game. He won the Triple Crown in 1956, won American League MVP three times and won the World Series seven times during his iconic MLB career.

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