How To Spot a Fake 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Card
The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card has been one of the most iconic and worthy playing cards in the hobby. A version of this card in perfect condition was sold for almost $3 million recently. Even though this card was printed twice by Topps, what makes it ultra rare is thousands of 1952 Topps high series cards were dumped into the Atlantic Ocean.
And while this is the first official Topps Mantle release, it is technically not his true rookie card (that distinction would go to the 1951 Bowman Mantle), though many people often put it that way. As with all desirable cards, a fairly significant counterfeit market tries trick collectors into believing their fakes are real.
Even more impressive is that he accomplished this during a career-long war with chronic leg pain. But despite all the great things baseball card fans and collectors know about him, there is one story that many people - especially younger people - don't know.
As strange as it may seem. Literally, a load of his first-ever Topps baseball card was dumped into the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1960, Berger and Gelman discovered that their warehouse was still filled with boxes of the second round of Topps from '52. After walking away from a failed business venture and needing more storage space for their growing company, Berger and Gelman asked for a junk barge to be sent over.
When the barge arrived, Berger and Gelman loaded the cumbersome boxes - about 300 to 500 of them, according to Berger's statement in the 2001 issue of Topps marking the 50th anniversary of Tuff Stuff magazine. Within minutes, the barge said goodbye to shore, carrying thousands of Mantles, Jackie Robinsons, and Eddie Mathews. In the blink of an eye, the 1952 Topps baseball cards met their fate in the ocean's depths.
Among these treasures was Mantle's card No. 311, a double-printed card still so popular that today it costs tens of thousand's of dollars, even in the lower grades.
The youth of America cared more about the sound of baseball cards in bicycle spokes than maintaining their condition. For most collectors today, the 1952 Topps Mantle card is second only to the T206 Honus Wagner card in terms of Holy Grail status. The Mantle card can reach seven figures at the highest levels.
Memory Lane sold a PSA 9 (Mint) '52 mantle at auction for $282,587 in 2007. A year later, a PSA 8 sold for $112,800. And this spring, Robert Edward Auctions sold an example graded PSA 8.5 (Near Mint-Mint Plus) for $272,550
Topps Mickey Mantle cards from 1952.
The bottom left corner of the card is missing one pixel, making the corner not look as square as the Type 2. The frame surrounding the Yankees logo on the Type 1 card has a sharp black border, while it is more jagged on the other version.
On the Type 1 card, Mickey Mantle's signature has an "e" that bends upward at the bottom of the signature (the last "e" in his name). On the Type 2 card, the "e" is not curved upward.
The small blue dot pixel in the upper left side of the card is missing on the Type 2 card.
The stitching is facing left, and on the Type 2 card, the stitching is facing right.
Regardless of their type, check to see if they are authentic. Of course, a trained professional can correctly determine the feel of the paper and the lack of pixilation on the original version.
Known fakes and how to recognize them
Recognizing a fake is a bit more difficult since there are two different types of 1952 Topps Mantle cards. Fortunately, we have seen many different fakes of this card, so hopefully, these examples will be helpful.
First, refer to the section above to learn how to tell the difference between the first and second versions of the card. That way, when you have this card in front of you, you'll know exactly what to look for.
Lack of dots and black bats
This copy has obviously been duplicated as a "Type 2" example. That this is a fake from a distance. The otherwise flawless corners, the whiteness of the card... it's all conspicuous. But even if you're not that adept at authentication, you'll be able to spot two little nuances.
There is no missing blue dot. The black marks on the yellow bat are also missing. So this is a fake and an extremely poor one at that. If you were fooled, go back and examine the two real cards!
No noticeable missing characters on the printout
Here is a fake type two that is much harder to authenticate. It looks like the dot is there, though. In the photo, it's difficult to read whether the card was edited to force the missing pixel or was printed that way. The bat has visible scratch marks, which are odd and may have been done to hide the missing blocks of black on the bat
The card is also perfectly centered, and with many fakes, the fronts are perfectly centered, and the reverses are not centered (such is the case with this forgery). One of the largest red flags would have corners that look artificially rounded, probably with sandpaper; it just doesn't look like natural corner wear for a card over 70 years old.
Dark green backgrounds
I've seen many fakes with a darker green background, as opposed to the blue background of the originals. The fake shown here is from a recent eBay auction where an unsuspecting buyer was scammed.
There are other obvious warning signs. The background is more than just too dark. The front has been intentionally sanded down, probably with sandpaper, and the corners look artificially aged. Whenever I see those sharp notches on the corners, like in the upper left corner, I think it's a fake. This seems to be a common feature among scammers scamming vintage cards.
Type one - missing bat marks, intentional aging
Here is a Type One example with the black bat prints missing. Also, look at the scratches on the card. It's rare to see such marks on an old card; it certainly looks very intentional, in my opinion. Additionally, those corners look very deliberately rounded. Note that this card was listed on eBay for $5000.