In the increasingly investment-driven world of sports cards, it’s all about condition: A card graded “mint,” with perfectly sharp corners and no signs of wear, has far greater value than one even considered in “excellent” shape. And a card that is “miscut” — meaning one where the image is far from centered — can be almost worthless.
Unless, of course, that image involves two of baseball’s most iconic players.
Such is the case with a 1952 card, issued by Topps, that sold for $72,500 at auction earlier this month. Ostensibly, it’s a Jackie Robinson card — to be exact, card #312 in the set that year. But it was cut in such a way that there’s a sliver of card #311 to the left — otherwise known as Mickey Mantle’s first Topps card.
The Robinson is prized on its own, but the Mantle is considered the holy grail of post-war baseball cards. One in mint condition sold for $5.2 million in early 2021.
Add it up, and the miscut card, which carries a condition grade of 1 — the lowest — on a 1-10 scaleis indeed a valuable error.
“It is the most interesting miscut card ever brought to market,” said Vincent Zurzolo, chief operating officer of ComicConnect.com, a New York City auction company that also specializes in sports collectibles, and sold the Robinson/Mantle card. Zurzolo added that a miscut is “usually the kiss of death” when it comes to cards.
,“It is the most interesting miscut card ever brought to market.”,
Zurzolo declined to reveal the seller or buyer of the item. But he noted that the same card sold for $29,520 last year, and the buyer at that time opted to flip it fairly soon, given how much prices are rapidly escalating for sports collectibles.
Al Crisafulli, owner of Love of the Game Auctions, a Kingston, NY, company that focuses on sports cards, said it was nevertheless “shocking” to see the miscut sell for $72,500. Still, Crisafulli noted there are some who actually place a premium on error cards.
“There’s a whole subset of people who collect this,” he said.
Sales of sports cards have boomed in the last couple of years. Industry experts say it’s due to a confluence of factors, from collectors having more time on their hands, especially during the early days of the pandemic, to investors embracing cards as an alternative asset class, as they have also done with everything from comic books to limited-edition sneakers.
While financial professionals warn that baseball cards shouldn’t be viewed in the same way as traditional investments, like stocks and bonds, the boom doesn’t appear to be ending. Heritage Auctions, a Texas-based giant in the collectibles industry, says its sales of sports cards and collectibles doubled in 2021 to $200 million.
Chris Ivy, Heritage’s director of sports collectibles, thinks nostalgia is another key factor in terms of what’s driving sales.
“Every adult wants to relive their childhood,” said Ivy.
And that apparently holds true even in the form of a miscut card. Still, Zurzolo of ComicConnect.com says this card wouldn’t have generated the same buzz if the error was of a different nature.
“If Jackie Robinson was next to a regular Joe Schmo ballplayer, it wouldn’t have that type of resonance,” he said.
Credit: www.marketwatch.com /