I suspect this was yet another poor Mickey Mantle card defaced by some sinister younger sibling. Then whilst bleary-eyed and weeping over the wreckage, the elder and unlucky baseball enthusiast apparently attempted to haphazardly repair the damage with a damn eraser tip.* The result seems to have left Mickey with something resembling a five o’ clock shadow, along with some scaly scar tissue. Personally, though, I think the restoration novice should have kept the remainder of the card untouched. I always felt Mickey looked rather dashing in glasses–a flare of bespectacled geek-chic.
*Experts now work absolute miracles on damaged cards! (I love the story about the almost literal “pirates chest” of old Ty Cobb tobacco cards glued to its lid. You also gotta dig the dude’s business name: Gone with the Stain.)
Well, if my deduction is correct, this is what happens.
I believe the Ebay seller mentioned something about that old bicycle spokes activity of now legendary horror. . . . But since this misfit has made its way into my possession and I can examine it more closely, I am no longer too sure. It appears to have been folded not once but twice–not merely into halves but quarters–as if to better fit in one of those tight, inner slots of some well-used Velcro wallet. Or, perhaps more likely, it was folded and creased as such to more easily slip into that miniature pocket sewn on the right hip of every pair of blue jeans. And observe how some of the surface has been scuffed and rubbed away near the top–just overhead of the unsuspecting, famed “bombers”–to give an almost pastel-like quality. That’s the aftermath of the laundry. . . . No, I definitely think that at least one of the culprits here was water–oh that pesky, ancient, and universal element that searches & destroys so many a beloved piece of cardboard.
And beloved it must have been, as evidenced by whatever wonderful act of salvage that mercifully granted this card a stay of execution from some wicker waste paper basket or said bicycle spokes.
1952 Topps, Mickey Mantle Card Image
Perhaps a picture really does say a thousand words, . . . and this little doodle likely cost this card’s original owner a thousand dollars or more in lost value.
But isn’t it a beauty? Look at all the character this creased and dinged little piece of cardboard possesses. And whoever the juvenile genius with the crayola was, I just love their intuitive palette: look at how fittingly the hue of those glasses works with the context of that powder blue background.
And last time I checked on this item it was easily approaching a $1,000.00 bidding price on Ebay–despite the handiwork of our possibly budding, future street graffiti artist. Well, doodle or no doodle, “filler” card or not, a Mickey Mantle rookie card will always be a Mickey Mantle rookie card.