1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 PSA NM-MT 8. In the simplest terms, Mickey Mantle was a man of his age. Just as Babe Ruth had personified the decadence of the Roaring Twenties, Mantle was emblematic of the American optimism that gave the world Elvis Presley and brightly colored automobiles with tail fins fit for a blue whale. We had won the war, rescued western civilization from genocidal totalitarianism, and we felt as if there was no stopping us. America was going big.
The ownership at Topps Chewing Gum felt it–the name itself was an expression of that infectious confidence. Though the company had dipped its toe into the trading card waters with its Hopalong Cassidy issue of 1950, Sy Berger–widely considered “the father of the modern baseball card”–set about constructing something both unprecedented and unequivocal the next fall. Rarely is any venture immune to a stumble or two, and this brings us to the offered lot.
The upper-pantheon significance of the man himself is only half the story, the other half inhabiting a much lower altitude, the briny deep. Mantle’s #311 representation launched the “high-number series” of the 1952 Topps issue, a portion of the set that fell victim to unrealistic deadlines and thus failed to meet its expected distribution quotas. Only small quantities made it to counter displays at the local five and dime, the balance ultimately towed several miles off the New Jersey shore and dumped to clear space on the warehouse floor for newer models.
Graded PSA NM-MT 8. One of thirty-five graded NM-MT with a mere fourteen rated higher from a total population that is approaching 1,700 submissions. Condition is remarkably fine, with strong centering, flawless registration and a gloss that supplies a pack-fresh sheen to the uncompromising visual aesthetics. Like Mantle, this card has become larger than hobby life. If there is any card to make a serious threat to the supremacy of the T206 Wagner as the hobby’s standard bearer – it is this card.