Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mantle Memorabilia Hot Stuff

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mantle Memorabilia Hot Stuff

Article excerpt

For the kids of the 1950s and '60s, the only thing better than seeing Mickey Mantle hit one out of the park was to open a pack of bubble gum cards and see The Mick smiling back at them.

Those same fans renewed their search for Mantle memorabilia a decade ago and wound up fueling a nationwide craze that turned a childhood hobby into a billion-dollar industry.

Now, in the days following their hero's death, collectors again are trying to buy up anything Mantle.

"People want more pieces of him than ever," said Larry Canale, editor of Tuff Stuff, a monthly magazine and pricing guide. "They want some memento to remember him by."

Plenty of dealers have reported record sales since Mantle's death Sunday at age 63 from liver cancer. One of the most stunning was the more than $500,000 in Mantle merchandise sold between Friday and Monday by Upper Deck Authenticated, a third-party sales arm of the Upper Deck card company.

The most expensive keepsakes include Mantle's autograph. Items graced with his distinctive signature marked by two looping Ms now cost up to three times more than they did just days ago.

More interest, though, has been for Mantle cards. His first one came out in 1951 and the last one from his playing career was issued in 1969, although dozens of tribute and highlight cards have come out since then.

The most expensive one is the 1952 rookie card made by Topps Co., which has long been a barometer for the entire collectible market.

Its value peaked in 1991 when one was sold for $49,500 at a Sotheby's auction. On Monday, a mint version owned by financially troubled collector Bruce McNall was sold at an auction for $24,150.

"At that price, it's a good deal," said David Kohler, who bought the card to resell it at his store, Sportscards Plus in Laguna Nigel, Calif. "I would've paid that for it last year."

Kohler already has several people interested in buying his new acquisition for $35,000, and he's been trying to keep his stock filled for all Mantle cards. …

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