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The Fever of 1952 Topps Baseball - Pafko to Mantle to Mathews!

A portion of a collection of 1951 to date Topps Baseball Sets

  • January 19, 2018
  • Leighton Sheldon

1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle"I've Got it All"

It isn't every day that we get contacted about a collection that consists of every regular issue Topps card produced from 1951 to the present.  Oh, don't get me wrong, we get contacted about some pretty incredible collections, but usually they are pretty centralized or specific to a tighter range of collecting. But when we hear someone say that they've got a run of all of the Topps sets, it usually tends to be incomplete.  Not in this case.

After some preliminary discussion, we vetted that the potential seller did have a complete run of sets that he had assembled over the past several decades.  Another discussion or two and we were able to get some details on some of the collection and provide more than a guesstimate.  We were able to prepare real numbers.  Now, on to the next step...

Planning a Trip

Once we ran the numbers and discussed the values and what we might be able to pay, we had a preliminary meeting of the minds and determined that the next step would be to travel and review the collection.  Given that it was going to be a hefty drive down Interstate 95, through Philadelphia, around the Beltway, past the Capitol and then some more mileage, we figured an overnight stay would be in order to start fresh in the morning.  We knew from experience that the evaluation and offer would take most of a full day, so we confirmed the appointment, mapped out the travel toward Richmond and booked our hotel near the collector.

We met early in the morning and spent the day reviewing the entire collection.  It wasn't until late in the afternoon that we completed the evaluation and early in the evening that we had completed everything and reached agreement on the sale/purchase of the collection after we determined what the collection was worth.  We paid the seller and loaded the collection for the long, return trip back to New Jersey.  Rides like this always seem longer on the way home, but not as long as if we hadn't bought the collection.

The Centerpiece - 1952 Topps Baseball Set

The cornerstone to any Post-War collection is usually considered to be the 1952 Topps Baseball Set.  With the Holy Grail of Post-War cards, the high series #311 Mickey Mantle the most expensive card in the set and the most valuable Post War regular issue card, these colorized images featured on an astounding 407 cards are still found on most want lists.  The Mickey Mantle was a PSA AUTHENTIC with evidence of having been trimmed, but presented with some great eye appeal.  The balance ranged from POOR to EX/MT, but was generally in lower grade.  There were some other PSA graded star cards including:  Eddie Mathews (PSA 1), Phil Rizzuto (PSA 4), Bobby Thomson (PSA 4), Leo Durocher (PSA 3), Yogi Berra (PSA 3), Roy Campanella (PSA 1), Joe Black (PSA 1) and Bill Dickey (PSA 1).  Additionally, some of the key cards that were not professionally graded included #1 Andy Pafko in GOOD condition, Willie Mays in GOOD condition, but with some color added to his cap to conceal a crack in the surface, Pee Wee Reese in GOOD condition and Hoyt Wilhelm in VG condition.  The tougher high numbers ranged from PR to GD with a few better.

The 1952 Topps set featured all 407 cards as well as a wide array of extra 1952 Topps cards.  While most were commons and lesser stars, there was an extra Andy Pafko, another Willie Mays and an extra Tony Bartirome as well as a few additional high numbers.

1952 Topps #407 Eddie Mathews1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle

When reviewing a collection, we will point out positives and negatives while performing the examination and evaluation.  While we love to find the gems and show the high points of some scarce cards or cards in better condition, there are sometimes negatives that have to be addressed like color added, trimming and pencil or ink marks that may be found on cards in the collection.  This collection was no exception as we had to show and explain the color added on the Willie Mays card and some other cards that had writing on the front or the back or even some instances where there were attempts at erasing the marks. These are not uncommon when looking at vintage collections and are rarely done by the collector, but often by someone that had the card long before they acquired it and usually not for nefarious reasons, but just to make the card look better or fit better into a certain holder or container.

1952 Topps #1 Andy Pafko1952 Topps #312 Jackie Robinson

We like to be very thorough and sometimes I get strange looks going through the 1952 Topps set, especially when I'm looking at cards that the collectors think are a bit obscure. I like to point out that I'm hoping to find the sellers more money . . . YES, we're always looking for reasons to value higher and pay more money! They invariably ask what I mean and I explain that I'm checking the condition of the Tony Bartirome (a common card that has carried a significant premium over other high number commons) and looking to see if they have the tougher Frank Campos Black Star variation, which could add hundreds of dollars to the evaluation.

Is That A Just Collect Label on your Lot?

That's a wrod play on the "Pledge Pin" line from Animal House, but while reviewing the collection, we found an old label on a lot that the seller bought from Just Collect that was processed in our offices during our first year in business.  The label was on a 10 card lot of 1951 Topps Blue Backs and the date on the label was 2/16/2007.  It is not uncommon to find our labels on cards that we're reviewing, but it is rare to find one from that long ago.  We've always taken a great deal of pride in doing right by our customers and seeing cards in their collections that they've bought from us reinforces that pride and reminds us that we must be doing something right for them to contact us when they are ready to sell their collection.

Won't They Be Worth More if I Grade Them Myself

We discuss all of the selling options with everyone that we meet with.  Obviously, selling them on their own will put the most money on the bottom line, but it will also take an large commitment of time and energy.  Another misconception is that grading the collection will return more money.  When I hear, "You're going to grade them and get ten times the money," I almost cringe.  Grading a collection can be a money losing proposition, especially if you don't know what you're doing.  

We value a collection based upon the condition and the value.  If a card is worth $100 in a PSA 7 NM, we're going to value it at $100 whether it is ungraded or graded.  You can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars grading your cards, but we're still valuing them the same and paying the same regardless of how much you've invested in grading them.

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.

Don't hesitate to check out our Google Reviews left by many of the great people that have considered selling collections to Just Collect.

The "The Fever of 1952 Topps Baseball - Pafko to Mantle to Mathews" Video:

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