1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle Rookie Card—Owned by Mickey Mantle!
It remains a mystery whether Honus Wagner ever actually owned one of his 1909 T206 White Borders. As for the second most famous card in hobbydom, Mickey Mantle not only collected his blockbuster Topps debut, he was a condition stickler to boot!
Mantle’s very own ’52 Topps Mantle is a gorgeous SGC EX/NM 6 beauty that the Mick gifted to his business partner. The two had arranged to meet at the New York Regency Hotel while plans were underway for the design of Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. Mantle used his hotel suite as a backdrop to showcase his entire collection—primarily Yankees and Hall of Famers, running the gamut from a ’34 Goudey Gehrig to a ’59 Topps Aaron. He hoped the cards would display with pride on the restaurant’s walls…but the idea was nixed in the end. And so, rather than take the cards back home with him, Mantle decided to bestow them all upon his business partner—which is how Mantle’s 1952 Mantle ultimately entered the hobby and made its way to the Dreier Museum.
No advanced card collection is complete without a ’52 Topps Mantle. It is the leading light of the pinnacle postwar set. Bigger, bolder and brighter, Topps burst on the scene at a transformative moment in the history of America and its Grand Old Game. Nationally, war was over, families were reunited, jobs were plentiful, personal wealth was surging, consumerism was at an all-time high, the American Dream was alive and well. On the diamond, meanwhile, a fresh-faced golden boy named Mickey Mantle had flawlessly taken the pinstriped torch from Joe DiMaggio. Yes, all the stars had aligned, Camelot-style: He was the perfect player in the perfect set at the perfect time. And the kingly reign of #311 has only grown more dominant in the six decades since.
Thankfully, there appear to be enough ’52 Topps Mantles to meet the fervent hobby demand—even high-grade examples. But here’s what there will only ever be one of, and what just a sole elite collector will ever be able to lay claim to: Mickey Mantle’s ’52 Topps Mantle. It could be argued that this historically significant “1 of 1,” Mantle’s very own Mantle boasts superior desirability to even the Gem Mintiest ’52 Topps Mantle on the planet. Yes, there is no substitute for Mantle himself having held this card in his hands, marveled at his youthful image, and protected the cherished collectible as best he could from the woes of wear.
Chad and Doug Dreier carried on this venerable legacy of care and dutiful ownership for one of the card-collecting world’s greatest treasures. Now the million-dollar question is: What privileged collector among us will be the next to proudly display Mantle’s Mantle up on his mantel?