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The Magnificent Mickey Mantle Mountaineer Collection

1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle and Two Ernie Banks Rookies!

  • September 21, 2017
  • Leighton Sheldon

1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle

Please Tell Me the Truth; is There a Real Ungraded Mickey Mantle?

To paraphrase an old newspaper editor's reply, "Yes, Virginia, there is a real ungraded Mickey Mantle."  In 1897, a then eight year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote letter written to the editor of the New York Sun that was published 120 years ago today.  The young girl from New York City wrote the paper and asked whether there was a Santa Claus.  The anonymous editor's published answer, "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" has become one of the most famous news paper replies in history and has been quoted, misquoted and paraphrased untold countless times since.  We at Just Collect hear a similar question about vintage cards -- especially top condition and high value cards.  Do vintage ungraded collections still really exist!  They do!

Ironically, the collection that we'll feature in this blog isn't about Virginia O'Hanlon or from the state of Virginia, but actually is from West Virginia . . . at least that is where it originated.

The Contact

We were initially contacted by a gentleman that said that he was assisting his father in determining the value and potential liquidation of the collection and he was interested in getting a FREE APPRAISAL.  Our experienced customer service representative explained the process and the gentleman forwarded some images and a brief description of the collection.  While not large in quantity of cards, probably less than 500 cards total, it did feature a nice looking 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, a few dozen additional 1952 Topps High Number cards (including Pee Wee Reese and Bobby Thomson), 2 1954 Ernie Banks rookie cards, a 1953 Topps Satchel Paige card more than 100 other lower series of the 1952 Topps Baseball Set.

1952 Topps Pee Wee Reese1953 Topps Satchel Paige1954 Topps Ernie Banks

Our vintage card specialist reviewed the images that the gentleman provided and prepared a preliminary evaluation.  Even though Just Collect did not have the complete breakdown of the cards and the collection, our specialists, through years of experience, have become quite adept at using high resolution images and other specifics about a collection to formulate a ballpark range of value.  We jokingly refer to the process as performing "Cardboard C.S.I." and it has proven to be amazingly accurate.  While the evaluation may not be exact, it does tend to be very representative of the overall collection, while being conservative enough to have upward movement when the collection is viewed in-person.

The Next Step

After reviewing the collection and the preliminary evaluation with the gentleman, our specialist spoke with him and reviewed the collection, the value and the intentions of the seller.  The seller was unwilling to forward the collection to us via our FedEx Program and was unable to travel from southwestern Pennsylvania to bring the collection to Just Collect's Somerset, NJ office.  While we could not agree upon an exact price for the collection, we determined that we were close enough in principle and that the nearly four hour drive each way provided enough risk/reward in the event that we were unable to reach agreement on a purchase price.

The Drive and Meeting

Our Vice President drove to southwestern PA to meet with the gentleman and his father.  This would be the first time that we would get to speak with the father and original owner of the collection. After initial introductions and discussion, Scott reviewed the collection, noting the key cards and their conditions while discussing the history of the collection with the retired gentleman.  The owner, a former engineer, grew up in West Virginia and was a graduate of the University of West Virginia, hence the Mountaineer reference.  While reviewing the collection, he noted that he had a Nellie Fox card that held sentimental value to him as Nellie had lived for some time in the seller's hometown. We asked him if he wished to keep the card and he said that he didn't, but always wondered if Fox had much value.

The key was the discussion about the condition and the value of the 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle, since this singular card was the predominance of the value of the collection. We conservatively graded and valued the card as a very strong VG and once we met in person, we agreed.  The card was strong enough in condition and eye appeal, that we thought it might have a chance to grade higher, but given the high profile of the card, it is never safe to assume that with respect to grading.  We were able to reach agreement on a price for the entire collection and we also agreed, that should the card grade higher, that Just Collect would provide the seller with an additional portion of the proceeds of the Mantle sale above the original evaluation of the card.  The card was just returned from grading and received a PSA 4.5!  We have already notified the gentleman and will be forwarding more money once the sale of the Mickey Mantle is completed!

1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle

But Wait, There's More to the Story

We agreed upon a purchase price, but the gentleman was apprehensive about accepting a large check since he didn't really know us aside from the research that his son had done.  We drove to his local bank, but they could not "guarantee" the check.  Unfortunately, the closest branch office for Just Collect's bank was about an hour away in nearby Maryland.  There was little time to spare as the bank would be closing in a little over an hour and that was almost the time needed to drive there, so Scott called the bank, confirmed their hours and ability to cash the check and set out on a two hour plus, round trip journey.  He returned from the bank, reviewed the collection again, and was able to pay the seller in CASH!  The seller, seeing how Just Collect had done EVERYTHING possible to make him happy, was appreciative and was genuinely sorry that he questioned our integrity.  However, we completely understood and we did what we had to do to make this deal work and be a WIN/WIN for both the seller and Just Collect.

Football, Pre-war and Non-Sport, Too

The collection also included some 1952 Bowman Football cards (both the small and the large) featuring rookie cards of Hall of Famers Gino Marchetti, Frank Gifford, George Halas, Paul Brown and Ollie Matson and several other major stars and a few short-prints. Additionally, there were a few early 1950's non-sport cards and a small group of 1915 Cracker Jack cards that appeared to have been nailed to a wall or corkboard at some point over the past century.  The seller did not recall where they had come from.

It's Real, But Some Just Won't Believe It

After returning from purchasing the collection, we shared some images of  the collection, including the Mickey Mantle, on Facebook.  Quite a few people claimed the card was fake, that there aren't any nice vintage cards that aren't already graded, and made all sorts of allegations and outlandish statements.  Well, the card is real and we reposted the card after it came back from PSA.  We haven't heard back from those that were so negative.  We just wanted to share the collection and let people know that there is still plenty of ungraded, high value cards still out there.  And yes, there is even a real Mickey Mantle! 

Our Buying Philosophy

We've run into a wide range of people and collections over the past decade. Although we are known for buying vintage sports cards and especially vintage basketball cards, we are also extremely interested in buying non-sports cards, also!

Every collection and every collector is different and we treat EVERY collection with the respect and attention that we show for our own collections. We understand that many have put their heart and soul into building their collection. So when you're ready to sell, Just Collect understands the feelings that you're going through and we will work with you to help you reach a decision that is a WIN/WIN, because if you're not happy, we're not happy.

We Are Always Buying

Just Collect is always buying vintage sports and non-sports cards from 1879 to 1979 as well as select modern cards. If you have a collection that you are considering selling, contact us today to discuss your collection and get our industry leading purchase offer. If you have a collection that you want appraised, please contact us and we would be happy to discuss your collection and help you understand the real cash value of your collection in the current marketplace.

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