In the latest Legendary Auctions sale, the top lot was a black-and-white photograph of Mickey Mantle that sold for $59,750.
But this wasn’t any photo of The Mick. The 7-by-9-inch photograph of Mantle is the image that appears on his iconic 1952 Topps rookie baseball card; perhaps the most recognized baseball card in existence. The photograph was one of more than 2,000 lots in Legendary Auctions recent May sale.
Doug Allen, president and COO of Legendary Auctions, said the record-breaking price was not anticipated prior to the auction but it did not take him completely by surprise.
“We’re talking about one of the most classic baseball images that exist,” said Allen. “It’s one of those photos that many people have seen, even if cannot pinpoint exactly where. The image’s condition combined with its popularity is what fueled the bidding. It’s an exceptional piece of baseball history.”
The 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps baseball card is one of the most coveted objects in the sports collecting world. The history of the photo traces back to Topps putting together a new concept in 1952 with its “Giant Size” card series. This innovation would ultimately allow the firm to eclipse its rival Bowman. To that end, photo selection was a priority. The result of this painstaking approach is the universally recognized and cherished 1951 likeness of Mantle that appears on 1952 Topps No. 311.
The photo was discovered in the photo archives of a regional U.S. newspaper. This likeness has never before been found in the form of a Type I original image. It features an “International News Photo” stamping, a “Bulldog” stamping and various date stampings appear on the back.