I recently wrote about the Topps Mickey Mantle Cards We Didn’t Get. In the article, I talked about how in the early 1950s, Topps and Bowman would sign players to exclusive agreements to differentiate their products. In 1954 and 1955, Bowman signed Mickey Mantle, so Topps could not produce cards for him in those years. In this article, I wanted to flip the script and talk about a pair of the early Mickey Mantle cards we got from both major early post-war brands, the 1951 Bowman #253 and 1953 Topps #82 cards, which happen to share a significant feature in common.
Two of Mickey Mantle’s most iconic cards used the same original news photograph!
The following image is a PSA/DNA Type 1 photograph auctioned off by Heritage a few years ago used for Mantle’s 1951 Bowman rookie card and 1953 Topps baseball card. The Heritage website indicates a rejected offer of $126k for the image in January 2021.
Henry Lee wrote that he was only aware of two original examples of this photo and that Yankees team photographer Bob Olen likely shot it. Note that the bat belongs to Joe Collins and how it shows Mantle wearing uniform number 6 before he switched to his iconic number 7.
The 1951 Bowman card has a more direct translation of the photograph to the card, while the 1953 Topps card has a zoomed-in, tighter focus. The 1952 Berk Ross Mickey Mantle Card has the most direct translation of the original photograph.
Heritage has also sold a PSA/DNA Type 2 photograph; they described it as a 1956-59 example made from the original negative.
Original photos are a unique hobby niche that I’ve written about before on the blog if you want to see some other great Type photographs.