Some of the rarest baseball cards featuring the biggest names in the sport will be made available by Heritage Auctions as part of the Sports Collectibles Auction May 11-13 in Dallas. Featuring the biggest brands in baseball card collecting from the most elusive sets, collectors will be able to bid on some of the rarest and highest graded trading cards in the hobby. With understandable deference to the T206 Honus Wagner and the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards, the 1916 M101-5 Blank Back (Sporting News) Babe Ruth Rookie #151 PSA NM 7, (est. $600,000+) might well be the most important card in history.
This is the one universally recognized Babe Ruth rookie card and within the population of Ruth M101-5’s, this PSA NM 7 specimen counts itself as one of only three, with three superiors (each just a grade higher).
In 1956, Mantle was the biggest star in the game and this card, the 1956 Topps Mickey Mantle #135 PSA Gem Mint 10 – Pop Four (est. $350,000+), was unquestionably far more popular at the time of its original sale than Mantle’s 1952 Topps rookie, which today holds sway as the most coveted card of the post-war era. Only four of over 5,400 submissions to PSA have earned the service’s highest rating.
One of the rarest cards able to be mentioned in the same breath as the famed Wagner T206 is the 1933 Goudey Napoleon Lajoie #106 PSA Mint 9, (est. $200,000+).
One young Depression-era set builder was undeterred by the fact that card number 106 was not available in standard wax packs but required the collector to mail a letter to the Boston offices of Goudey Gum Co., to earn this toughest of all cards. Just 85 (including qualified grades) Lajoies from the 1933 Goudey issue ever have been submitted to PSA. Nine have garnered a Mint 9 rating and none has scored Gem Mint 10.
Plagued by gum and wax stains, the 1951 issue of Bowman designs have a population less than half of that of the 1952 Topps collection. The gorgeous coloring survived on this 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle #253 PSA NM-MT 8, (est. $200,000+). The winning bidder should realize the benefit from the interest shown to top-tier Mantle cardboard, which has been enjoying an enduring value surge for the past 20 years, with a distinct spike in the past 24 months.
1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 PSA NM 7
It is the post-war hobby’s most recognizable image that has ingrained itself in our American iconography, the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 PSA NM 7 (est. $150,000+). This striking example has been graded PSA NM 7. Mantle’s portrait is close to perfection, set off against a border that radiates a glowing bright white. The calculated destruction of leftover boxes of the 1952 sets, paired with the standard Eisenhower-era themes of bicycle spokes and spring-cleaning mothers, has left the balance between supply and demand for “The Mick’s” rookie heavily tipped toward the latter.