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Discussion: Why is 1958 Topps Mantle All Star so Inexpensive?
The Card in Question
What is it about this card?
As collectors, we all know the connection that Mickey Mantle has with the baseball card industry. Even for non-Yankees fans, Mickey Mantle is still a big deal. As a Yankee in the 50’s, he was on nationally televised World Series games throughout the “Baby Boomers” formative years and to this day, he remains a beloved figure in baseball history.
All that aside, he is the most popular post-war sports figure in America and his cards are easily amongst the most popular, and yes, expensive, cards available today. Even new cards bearing his likeness are very popular. For collectors, it is common knowledge that high-number cards from the 50’s, 60’s and even the early 70’s are very difficult to find, and even harder to find in decent condition. Let’s face it, kids in the 50’s and 60’s seem to have gone out of their way to destroy virtually any card of interest from that time period. Cards were scaled up walls, flipped on the floor, put in bicycle spokes, glued into photo albums, thumb-tacked to walls, if there was a way to abuse a baseball card – they thought of it.
As much as it bothers us today, this is what the cards were for back then. Kids “Loved” their cards before putting them away in a box, usually rubber-banded, until there mom decided it was time to throw them away – usually when the kid wasn’t looking. And this continued to happen year after year.
Now back to this card. The 1958 set isn’t the prettiest of sets but it was issued in series and as card 487, it would be a high number. The funny thing is, this is the one vintage set where the first series is more difficult to find than the later series. The regular Mantle card in this set lists for $1000 but this All-Star card only lists for $200 and I’ve never figured out why it seems so LOW.
Yes, low, as in inexpensive.
It may not seem low to you but $200 for a vintage high-number Mantle is low. Card 487 is in the last series for this set and no matter how difficult it may have been to find the first series, the last series is notoriously difficult to find for almost any vintage set. Why? Because it was the very end of the season and Topps didn’t produce anywhere near as many cards at that point in the year for fear of not being able to sell them before the season was over.
After reading up on this set, there is speculation that this card was actually double-printed and that it may in fact actually have been triple printed. This is, however, all speculation. In any case, it may not matter given Mantle’s extreme popularity at the time. Everyone (except Brooklyn Dodger fans) wanted Mantle cards and 1958 is the first year they produced All-Star cards that they included in the set.
I myself have had this particular Mantle card about a half-dozen times in my life. I have also seen quite a few of them on eBay over the years. As of right now (5/3/12) there are 136 1958 Mantles #150, which is the base card, and 175 1958 Mantle All-Star 487 cards listed on eBay. The difference does not seem very extreme and certainly doesn’t justify the base card being worth 5 times the all star.
So I ask again, “What is it about this card?”
Why is this card so inexpensive, comparatively speaking ? It’s Vintage, It’s Mantle, It’s the first year of All-Star cards, it’s technically a high number, and it’s from a fairly popular set (people love the extreme color which had never been seen on a card before), it's also usually found in fairly beat-up shape, so why is it so inexpensive??
Sometimes you see a card and ask why it's so expensive. Sometimes it's better to ask why certain other cards are so inexpensive - this is one of them...
Next Up: Exploring RCs from the 70's and why they are good to grab NOW!!