1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Rookie Card Highlights The Tampa Collection

Over 1,000 Vintage Cards from the 1950's Fresh to the Hobby
  • March 16, 2023

A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card with a unique story from a young boy that used to take this iconic card to school, until he told dad what the card was really worth, has been proudly purchased by Just Collect. This iconic card stands tall among a fresh-to-the-hobby find of over 1,000 vintage baseball cards from the 1950's. We are excited to introduce you to the Tampa Collection.

The weather down in Tampa, Florida is much nicer than it is here at the Just Collect office in Milburn, New Jersey. There is no snow, the temperature is at least 30 degrees warmer, the sun is shining, and did I mention there is no snow? When I received a call from Ian and his family regarding a collection of vintage baseball cards they were interested in selling, I wasted no time booking my flight down South. The cherry on top is that Ian had a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card in the collection!


1952 Topps Mickey Mantle and Jackie Robinson

Over 1,000 vintage baseball cards from the 1950's are included in The Tampa collection including some of the most legendary players in the game. Multiple cards from the 1953 Topps baseball set are present. This release has a beautiful, artistic design on each card measuring 2-5/8" by 3-3/4”. Unlike cards today, vintage cards have varied in size over the years. A standard baseball card today is 2-1/2" by 3-1/2". Below you can see three Hall of Famers in a row with Orestes (Minnie) Minoso, Whitey Ford, and Bob Feller. Minoso was a nine-time All-Star, Whitey Ford still owns the New Yankees career wins record with 236, and Bob Feller led the league in strike outs seven times!


Dozens of cards from the 1954 Bowman baseball boasts a color image of each player's likeness on cards that are 2-1/2" by 3-3/4” On the front of each card is a facsimile signature. In the middle row on the image below you can see four more baseball greats in Pee Wee Reese, Willie Mays, Duke Snider, and Phil Rizzuto. Reese made ten All-Star squads, Mays is probably on the Mount Rushmore of baseball given his accolades (including 660 home runs, 3,283 hits, and 24 All-Star appearances!), Duke Snider was an eight-time All-Star, and Rizzuto helped lead the Yankees to seven World Series championships. 


Cards from the 1955 Bowman set have that wood boarder and a design like a TV set back when half of the families in the United States still didn't own a TV! You can see the 1955 Bowman design in the middle row, first picture with Eddie Mathews. Mathews is one of the best power hitters the game has seen, ending his career with 512 home runs. The 1955 Bowman baseball set holds a special place in my heart as I was fortunate enough to pull a pack-fresh Mickey Mantle card from an unopened cello pack live at the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention! You can see this amazing moment here.

The 1955 Topps baseball set is horizontal like the Bowman cards, but features two pictures of each player. The Topps cards are just a tad bigger in size, too, coming in at 2-5/8" by 3-3/4 to Bowman's 2-1/2" by 3-3/4. Below Mathews are 1955 Topps cards of Duke Snider and Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks! In the history of MLB, only 28 players have hit 500 or more home runs in their career, and amazingly Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews each tied at 512 homers. 


1952 Topps baseball cards is considered the most important post-World War II set ever made. At the time of creation, this release had the largest checklist with a tally of 407 cards, all of which measure 2-5/8" by 3-3/4". Each player has a vibrant, colorful photo on the front of the cards along with their team logos. 

The cards were released in multiple series during the baseball season which sounded like a fine marketing tool at the time. By releasing cards numbered 1-80 in "series 1" and not releasing all 407 cards simultaneously, collectors would not be able to build a complete set of cards early in the baseball season. This would keep collectors purchasing cards all season, or so Topps and distributors thought. When Fall came around, collectors were more interested in football. The forgotten sixth series, cards #311 - 407, were disposed of by being dumped into the Atlantic Ocean!

Guess who got dumped in the ocean? MICKEY MANTLE and JACKIE ROBINSON! Mantle is card #311 and Robinson is card #312. Mantle is KING of the hobby. Even in poor condition, a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card is worth tends of thousands of dollars. Mickey Mantle won three MVP awards, seven World Series championships, and the Triple Crown (leading the league in average, home runs, and runs batted in) in 1956. Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier and endured more pain than I could ever imagine. During it all, Robinson won Rookie of the Year, MVP, the World Series, and was enshrined into the Hall of Fame. 

In the middle of these 1952 Topps cards is THE reason I left the snow behind in New Jersey and flew to Florida. What is even more fascinating than the collection is the story behind the Mantle rookie!



Ian and has family reached out to me for a free appraisal and were interested in selling a collection of vintage baseball cards their father left to both Ian and his sister. Ian sent me images of the cards and from there I began to research and evaluate the collection. The retail stores are focused on selling modern products and simply don't have the time or the knowledge to carefully evaluate vintage collections like Ian's. By doing this work upfront, I become familiar with your collection and come prepared with all the details you need to make our process smooth and easy for you. I also brought along Marc, who writes our daily newsletter here at Just Collect, to help document the trip!


I flew to Tampa and met Ian at his home. Just Collect offers many options to evaluate your collection. Whether your wish to come to our store, meet us at a convention, ship your cards, or have us come to your area, we are ready to accommodate you. Upon arrival, Ian had all of his cards laid out on the table and organized very well. While reviewing the cards, I asked Ian about the history of the collection, and then I had to do a double take. HE DID WHAT?

The cards originally belonged to Ian's father. He never remembered his dad opening packs of cards so Ian believes his dad was gifted the entire collection. Perhaps from a neighbor or a family friend, all of those cards you see above have been in the family for nearly 70 years! When he was younger, Ian found the cards in his dad's closet and was pretty excited with the discovery as he pulled out the Mantle, the Jackie, Ted Williams, and more. His father actually said "who cares - these cards aren't worth anything." Ian decided to take the Mikey Mantle rookie card to school! Without a holder to safely store the Mick, off to school he went. Maybe a show and tell here, a game of FLIP there. After a few rides on the school bus with the Mantle, Ian read the latest price guide and learned that at the time this card was worth $3,000 in near-mint condition! Dad didn't allow any more trips to school for the Mick, and we think quickly forgave Ian for reading a sports card magazine in school instead of his history book.

Today the 1952 Mantle card is the record-holder for most valuable card with an SGC 9.5 graded copy selling for 12.6 million dollars. Ian chose not to grade his vintage baseball cards as he did not want to place his valuable cards in the mail. This is where I took the opportunity to explain grading and how the condition of the cards affect the value. On a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being Gem Mint condition, the difference in even just one point could be thousands of dollars. To date, there are only three known Gem Mint 10 Mantle cards in the world! While Ian's Mickey Mantle card is not in gem mint condition, his card is still very valuable and I am more than happy to purchase his card ungraded! 



I made Ian a fair offer for his collection that he accepted. I then paid Ian how he wanted to be paid. When you sell your collection to me here at Just Collect, I will pay you in cash, check, wire transfer, or maybe pay off all those school loans you racked up while reading the sports card prices guides like Ian! 

There are a few special cards that I did not take back to snowy New Jersey. Ian's dad had a few of his favorite cards tacked to a bulletin board, and those had his dad's initials on them! In the 1950's, Ian's dad and his friend would trade cards with each other and then write their initials on top of each card. Here you can see a 1956 Topps Ted Williams card with D.H. written in pencil. Ian's dad had good taste in baseball players; Teddy Ballgame won six batting titles! If you have cards with initials on them, don't assume there is no value; even marked cards can be valuable! I once purchased a Ted Williams 1939 Playball rookie card that had a date stamped on the front. Check out this Mysteriously-Stamped Collection.


I want to thank Ian and his sister for allowing me to purchase this collection. It is an honor to hold cards that have belonged to one family since the days when I Love Lucy was the top TV show, the first Webber grills were invented, and a gallon of gas set you back a whopping 27 cents.






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 or 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. Check out the Just Collect Buy List.

We always offer a FREE APPRAISAL for your collection here at the Just Collect site. Just click here:


We offer may ways to evaluate your cards other than or using our website, too.

  • Travel to Us

If you can make the trip here like the son from my hometown did for this collection- we can make a deal at the office. We once met a father-son duo that drove eight hours from Virginia to meet us to sell a Michael Jordan rookie card stored in Tupperware since 1986 - great read here

  • Come to convention

We keep a LIST of card shows we'll be attending.  Come stop by the Just Collect table and chat.

  • Meet in-person

If you have a valuable collection and want us to come to you, we'll hop on the next plane out.

  • Meet in New York City

We have another location in New York you can meet us at; read all the information here.

  • SHIP your collection 

If you choose to mail your cards for an appraisal, we will evaluate your cards for FREE still. If you choose not to sell the cards, we'll ship them back shipping fees paid by us!  We can offer our FedEx account with 2-day shipping, fully insured, all covered by us. Simply contact the office to set up this option.


We've run into a wide range of people and collections over the last 25 years. Although Just Collect is known for buying vintage sports cards and especially vintage baseball cards, we are also extremely interested in buying non-sports cards, too!  

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 souls into building their collections. So when you're ready to sell, we understand the feelings that you're going through and 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.


Whether you have vintage cards or modern wax you want to sell, you can reach out to us any time! 


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