Pack of 1952 Topps cards, graded PSA 6, sells for $69,000

Low-series pack will not contain 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie

Cover Image for Pack of 1952 Topps cards, graded PSA 6, sells for $69,000
The lighter green color on the pack of 1952 Topps cards indicates it is from the low series.

An unopened, five-cent wax pack of 1952 Topps baseball cards, graded a PSA 6, sold for $69,000 on Thursday night at Rockhurst Auctions, setting a new record for a pack in that grade.

The previous record for a PSA 6 pack was $28,800 at Heritage Auctions in November 2018.

Of course, unopened 1952 packs do not come up that often. PSA has graded 16 five-cent packs, with a 6 the most common grade.

When looking at 1952 Topps packs, collectors divide it into two categories: Low numbers (cards 1-310) and high numbers (311-407).

There’s a further breakdown based on release dates, which is divided into six. The first five releases were the low numbers. The sixth represented the high numbers.

Most of the packs today are from Series 1, which feature cards numbered 1-80. Notable players in that grouping include Andy Pafko, Phil Rizzuto, Warren Spahn, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider.

The sixth and final release includes the famed card No. 311, the Mickey Mantle rookie, a card that only has one rival, the T206 Honus Wagner. It also includes card No. 312, Jackie Robinson.

While the packs don’t call out the series, one can determine it by the color of green on the pack’s front. A lighter green is from the low series, a darker green is from the higher.

Had this pack been from the high series and possibly included the Mantle, it would likely have commanded double the price.

A pack from the final series, graded by now defunct grader GAI in a 5.5, sold for $102,000 last September.

The year 1952 was a special one for Topps, when a man named Sy Berger took a big shot at incumbent Bowman by using baseball cards to help sell the company’s Bazooka brand gum.

Kids rejoiced, but by the time the later series came out, football had taken over. The lack of interest resulted in years of trying to sell the cards. To no avail, Berger’s team eventually loaded up a barge and dumped the higher series cards, overflowing with Mantles, into the ocean.

All of a sudden, another scarcity factor was added on top of kids destroying the cards in flip games or in bicycle spokes or parents throwing them out.

PSA has graded 302,907 cards from the 1952 set. Only 1,709 are in PSA 9 condition (0.56 percent) and only 94 are in PSA 10 condition (.03 percent)

A 1952 Mantle in a PSA 9 sold in privately last year for $12.75 million, the three PSA 10s are said to be worth $30 million each.

There is an ungraded set of packs from the early series that beat Thursday’s price. Last year, Morphy Auctions sold an eight-pack brick in cello wrapping for a whopping $852,000.

Rockhurst’s auction also included an empty 1952 Topps box, which sold for $5,175.

Darren Rovell is the founder of and one of the country's leading reporters on the collectible market. He previously worked for ESPN, CNBC and The Action Network.