1968 Topps Mickey Mantle: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide
Like all of his cards, the 1968 Topps Mickey Mantle continues to be one of the most sought after vintage cards in the hobby.
While it may not be his most valuable, there certainly isn’t another card quite like it from a design standpoint.
After all, those burlap-colored borders of the 1968 Topps set are instantly recognizable…
The 1968 season was Mantle’s last as a Major League ballplayer, which gives this card some added importance.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at what makes it so unique, how much it’s worth, and how to best go about buying and selling one.
Let’s jump right in!
Some things to consider before we get into more detail:
- the card measures 2-1/2" by 3-1/2"
- this is card #280 out of 598 cards
- it was not part of the "high number" series in the set (cards #458 - 598) making it relatively easier to find
- it is one of the top cards in the set along with rookie cards of Nolan Ryan and Johnny Bench
- this was the first Topps card to list Mantle as a first baseman
- this was the last Topps card to feature Mantle during his playing years from (1951 - 1968)
Because of the burlap-colored borders, collectors usually either love or hate the 1968 Topps design, but I've never heard anyone complain about owning this particular card.
The switch-hitting legend is posing hitting lefty on a bright day in his Yankee pinstripes, giving the card as much pop as the Mick's bat itself.
An outfielder for the majority of his career, Mantle moved to first base during the 1967 season and Topps listed his position accordingly in the lower-right corner just above the Yankees team name.
There is so much to like about this card from the imagery to the coloration to the look of extreme concentration on Mantle's face that gives it a tremendous amount of eye appeal.
The reverse of the card uses a vertical layout printed upon a golden background.
Along with the usual personal information, Mantle's Minor and Major League statistics take up most of the available space, and just by perusing through them, you can see how dominant of a hitter he was.
A small blurb above his stat box gives a nod to Mantle belting a record 18 home runs in World Series play, a mark that still stands today.
Finally, along the bottom, Topps included one of their classic trivia cartoons highlighting Al Downing and Mel Stottlemyer's accomplishment of leading the Yankee pitching staff with four shutouts apiece in 1967.
Compared to other Topps sets of the era, these cards are relatively easier to find in high grade because the usual centering and print defects weren't as problematic.
Still, centering is the most common challenge in this case.
Those burlap-colored borders are notorious for easily showing wear and tear, too, as any non-white border will.
To give you an idea of differences in condition, notice the great centering, sharp corners, and beautiful surfaces of the PSA 9 card below versus the PSA 4:
PSA 4 VG-EX Condition
PSA 9 Mint Condition
I don't claim to know why PSA grades every single card the way they do, but in the close-ups below you can clearly see the centering on the PSA 4 version is off, there are subtle print marks in the blue sky background and the corners are round from wear.
By comparison, the PSA 9 doesn't contain those same defects.
PSA 4 VG-EX Condition
PSA 9 Mint Condition
Most 1968 Mantles that I come across are typically in the lower PSA 3 to PSA 5 grade range which is completely expected given that most of them have been well-loved by collectors for several decades now.
If there are any tears, pinholes, wrinkles or creases then the card will almost always grade out as a PSA 1.
Graded takes place on a 1 - 10 scale with 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest--the higher the grade the higher the value.
In order to be graded in mint condition, the card has to be nearly perfect:
- centering has to be pretty much 50/50
- the corners have to be sharp with no signs of wear or rounding
- the surfaces can not have any blemishes, divots, cuts, creases or wrinkles
- the edges cannot be damaged or have any chipping
As I mentioned earlier, most 1968 Topps Mantles that I see ungraded are in the 3 - 5 range.
Even as a 1 in poor condition, this card has some value since it's a Mickey Mantle.
But, the serious money comes into play once you start seeing conditions in the mid to higher grades.
If you have one of these cards and you'd like me to take a look at it, please reach out to me using the contact form above.
So what are these cards worth?
The value of a 1968 Topps Mickey Mantle card will depend on its condition and can range between $50 to $3,300 or more.
The following table shows estimated values in conditions ranging from PSA 1 (Poor) all the way to PSA 9 (Mint):
As you can see, condition is everything in this hobby when it comes to a card's value.
Mickey Mantle's 1968 Season In Review
Mantle wrapped up his historic career in 1968 and would play well enough to be named to his 20th All-Star game in which he would appear as a pinch hitter.
Here is a look at some of his stats that season:
- Hits: 103
- Runs: 57
- Home Runs: 18
- RBI: 54
- Batting Average: .237
- OPS: .782
- SLG: .398