The offered 1962 Holiday Inn Mickey Mantle Postcard is the first-ever to attain the grade of Mint 9 from PSA. According to the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, "This color postcard pictures Mantle in civilian clothes. On the back of the standard size (about 3-1/2" x 5-1/2") card it says the Mick is 'pictured in the Dugout Lounge at the Inn.' The 'Inn' is the Joplin, Mo., Holiday Inn which Mantle owned. This was one of the more popular, and thus more common, of the souvenirs issued in conjunction with Mantle's motel." The trading of a handful of these postcards every few weeks on eBay is evidence of the above statement regarding the card's scarcity. It is significantly more common, for example, than the 1959 Holiday Inn Mickey Mantle Postcard, and it's about 100,000 times more common than the 1963 Mickey Mantle Hospital Postcard, which we have never encountered in over half a decade of active searching.
It's not that there are dozens and dozens of copies of the 1962 Holiday Inn card available at any given moment on eBay, but the offered card is certainly common enough that we were pleasantly surprised when we learned it was the first to ever grade PSA 9 Mint. Incidentally, we are also offering the hobby's first-ever example in the grade of PSA 10 Gem Mint immediately preceding this lot. We had submitted both cards to PSA around the same time, and the PSA 9 was the first to finish. This was of course a pleasant experience, at first, but when the PSA 10 soon followed a couple of days later, we were actually disappointed. Can you imagine getting the first PSA 10 on a Mickey Mantle card from 1962 and being disappointed! The thing is, as far as Mickey Mantle Master Set Registry collectors are concerned, the cards are virtually duplicates of each other.
Our disappoint soon turned to fervor, however, when we realized that the cards were not in fact the same. The Holiday Inn logos, fonts, and registered "Your Host from Coast to Coast" lines on back are all noticeably different. On the PSA 9 copy offered here, the logo is larger than the one printed on the PSA 10 pictured above it. The "Holiday Inn" font on the PSA 10 copy is composed of white cursive letters shadowed in green, whereas the font on the PSA 9 card is all solid green. Finally, the registered tag line "Your Host from Coast to Coast" is in cursive here but printed on the PSA 10 copy.
Do these subtle differences qualify the cards as two separate issues? Were they perhaps issued in different years between 1959 and 1962? We can't say. For argument's sake, however, take a quick look at lot #16 and lot #23 in this month's auction. These Sandy Koufax cards are virtually identical except for their fonts and the addition of the words "Los Angeles" to the latter example. If these subtle differences are enough to qualify for distinction, then surely the differences between these two Mantle postcards are as well.
Unfortunately, it is no easy task to convince PSA to add another line to its population report, especially for a player of Mantle's stature, but "new" or uncatalogued issues are discovered all the time in our hobby. This discovery process is half the fun of card collecting, if not 3/4 or even 7/8 of the fun. Indeed, whether you are new to Mickey Mantle collecting and have just been introduced to this unusual postcard, or you are a seasoned Mantle collector who is reading about it for the first time, or you are an overworked auction coordinator furiously writing descriptions past the stroke of midnight when you haphazardly stumble upon variations of what was previously thought to be a well-known and "common" postcard, it is the act of discovery that keeps us both reading and writing. Heck, it's the same thrill we all felt as children opening packs of baseball cards. We know there are several other potential Mantle Master Set Registry variations out there awaiting recognition, but whatever PSA decides regarding this one, it is our position that the Mantle Master Set should now contain 241 items instead of 240, and we can't wait to read about #242.