After Surviving Hurricane Katrina, 1951 Type 1 Mickey Mantle Photo Sells For Record $843,750

Mickey Mantle still continues to set records in the hobby. A 1951 Type 1 photograph of the New York Yankees legend sold for a record $843,750 at Heritage Auctions on Sunday — making it the highest-selling Type 1 photograph of all-time. The photo was used for Mantle’s 1951 Bowman rookie card, 1952 Berks Ross card, and 1953 Topps card. What makes this photo even more special is it survived Hurricane Katrina flooding the former owner’s home.

Type 1 photos are “first generation photographs.” According to Collectable.com, that means “they were developed from the original negative within two years of when the picture was taken.”

The Mantle photo was taken by team photographer Bob Olen in 1951. In the photo, Mantle is wearing No. 6, which was his number when he began his rookie season before switching over to his iconic No. 7.

This Type 1 photo of Mantle is only one of four known in existence. It came from former teammate and Yankees pitcher Jack Kramer as part of the only known complete set of official Yankees photos of the 1951 World Series championship team.

According to Topps Ripped, the photo miraculously survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when it leveled parts of New Orleans.

“These photos were in four feet of water, basically floating in the top drawer of a cedar chest in a Ziploc bag,” says Jeff Tomblin, a consignor for the owner who sold the Mantle image, to Topps Ripped. “Once everything settled, a week to a week-and-a-half after Katrina hit, the owner and his family went in and removed them, and they were in the condition you see it in. The Mantle is in pristine condition relative to what it’s been through for the age that it is.”

The previous record was a circa 1910-1912 Type 1 photo of Ty Cobb used for his 1914-15 Cracker Jack baseball card that sold for $516,000 in August 2022.

This isn’t the only Mantle Type 1 photo that has sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. A separate 1951 Type 1 photo, this one from International News Photos wire service, sold for $375,000 in December 2019, according to PSA. This photo was used for Mantle’s legendary 1952 Topps baseball card.

“There is no doubt that the image used for Mickey Mantle’s 1952 Topps card is in a league of its own,” Joe Orlando, executive vice president of Heritage Auctions, tells Topps Ripped. “It is as much pop culture art as it is a trading card. That said, the one distinct advantage of the 1951 Bowman image is that it relates to his rookie card, and there is only one rookie card for Mickey Mantle. Vintage photo collectors place particular importance on rookie season images of the player and rookie card images. The price premiums associated with those kinds of vintage photos in all sports have been noticeable.”

Another 1951 Type 1 photo of Mantle, which was used as his Yankees headshot, also sold for $20,625 at Heritage on Sunday night.

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