If you are a fan of sports memorabilia and trading cards, the most expensive cards ever sold might shock you.
The 3 most expensive trading cards ever sold are all baseball cards in incredible condition and they have been making headlines, as the new record (’52 Mickey Mantle) for most valuable trading card ever sold has been broken twice in the last 6 months.
The ‘PSA’ in the card’s name relates to a grading system by Professional Sports Authenticator, varying from 1 to 10. There are only six PSA 9-level ’52 Mantle cards in the world, according to the PSA database. This very one was bought in November 2020 by Rob Gough, a known super collector.
While not Mantle rookies, the 1952 cards are for being Topps’ first yearly set and for having been dropped, by the thousands, into the Hudson River in 1960 after overproduction.
According to ESPN, “There are three recognized PSA 10 (rated “gem mint” condition, a “virtually perfect card,” according to PSA) Mantles in existence, one of which was on climate-controlled, UV-protected display and transported by armored car in Colorado in 2018. They’re valued at more than $10 million each.” [source]
Long before the Mickey Mantle card broke the record, the previous title for “most expensive trading card ever sold” referred to this 1/1, 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Superfractor Mike Trout Rookie Card, rated Mint 9 by Beckett Grading Service.
What makes the card a 1/1 is that it has a verified signature by Mike Trout. It was bought in August 2020 for $3,939,000 USD.
The story of the most popular baseball card in the world remains to be told. At the time of sale, the 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner set a new world record price for a baseball card, trading for $3.12 million USD in September 2016.
Known as the “Jumbo Wagner,” the card is ranked a PSA 5, making it one of the top-condition examples of the card. Widely considered as the Holy Grail of baseball cards, the T206 Honus Wagner has set the world record price for a baseball card many times over.
The record-breaking Jumbo Wagner gets its name for being somewhat larger than typical 1909-11 T206 cards. It measures 1 7/16″ by 2 11/16″. Most T206 cards are 2 5/8″ in height. Because of mid-cut, which is noted in PSA’s grade, the card has thicker borders.
This card first appeared in the mid-1970s. After the real owner from Vermont passed away, it was sold by his daughter. It traded hands a couple of times in the years that followed before coming up in the market again in 2008. The Jumbo Wagner last sold in 2013 for $2.1 million.
The former record price of $2.8 million came as a result of a private sale of the PSA 8 copy of the card once owned by Wayne Gretzky. The buyer was Arizona Diamondbacks owner, Ken Kendrick. The Gretzky Wagner was rumored to have been cropped and was surrounded by controversy.
That was eventually confirmed in 2013 when Bill Mastro, who was included extensively in the card’s sales history, admitted his part in trimming the card’s edges. The statement came as part of a plea bargain arising from mail fraud charges. Despite this, it’s likely that the Gretzky Wagner could one day restore the record if it’s put back on the market just because of its notorious history. [source]