PSA 10 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle RC
Memory Lane, Inc. (Tustin, California) has announced the  sale of a PSA 10 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle RC to a west coast collector for $600,000.

The $600,000 sale price makes it the second most expensive card in history. The most expensive card ever is the PSA 8 1909-1911 T206 Honus Wagner card which sold for over $2 million twice in 2007.

PSA has graded over 1,000 1951 Bowman Mantle’s but this is the only one that has ever been processed as Gem Mint. The card was graded during the 1990s and used to be owned by former Major League pitcher Tom Candiotti.

This card has changed hands in the past though. The initial sale ten years ago was for less than $100,000 and later sold for $325,000.

“It goes to show that one-of-a-kind rarities continue to set the bar higher. The demand is so high for these cards because there are more big time buyers than ever before in the hobby. The cost is reflected in that. We could have sold this card to two or three other clients who were very interested. We almost had to do it on the basis of seniority.” ~ Memory Lane Auction Director J.P. Cohen

High-end vintage cards are something almost any collector would love to have whether it be for a personal collection or investment purposes, but as more and more people join in the search for them, the prices will continue to rise. And today, the market is strong and growing.

In 2007, Memory Lane itself sold over $15 million in vintage sports cards and memorabilia including auctions for a PSA 10 1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig ($274,950) and a 1952 Topps Black Back Andy Pafko ($95,175).

Two years ago, they handled auctions for a PSA 2 T206 Wagner ($294,337) and a 1952 Topps Mantle ($282,587).

But they also perform private broker sales, an alternative to auctioning off rare, high-end vintage cards. This way, the seller gets a set price and never has a card returned after the reserve wasn’t met.

“The seller has some security and can maximize their return with a straight sale. With an auction, even if there is a reserve of $600,00 for a card like this and the high bid is only $350,000, the card goes back to the seller as kind of tainted because the card doesn’t bring the value the seller was expecting. A serious buyer is guaranteed to get what he wants without competing with anyone else.” ~ Cohen

The collector who made the Bowman Mantle purchase is pursuing a high-grade 1951 Bowman complete set and acquired this card through a broker sale.

And while one might think that a perfect Mantle RC would be expected to be the most expensive Mantle of all, it is not.

Cohen believes that if one of the three PSA 10 1952 Topps Mantles were to hit the market, they would sell for over $1 million. However, he also says that “No one wants to sell theirs.”

Do you have any highly graded vintage cards? If you do, why do you pursue these types of cards?