ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – There are few personalities in the antiques and collecting business more recognizable – or more well-known – than Mr. Mint. In fact, it’s a good bet that more people know him by that moniker than by his given name, Alan Rosen.
The personality, though, is just a part of the package. Yes, Rosen is a commanding presence, and yes, his is a big personality, but what you can overlook with Mr. Mint is the sheer amount of knowledge and passion he brings to his work.
“I like the accumulation of stuff,” he said in an interview with Antique Trader. “It’s always exciting to me to acquire.”
It is precisely that knowledge and passion that made Rosen the no. 1 name in baseball cards in the early 1980s, and the same things that make him the no. 1 name in toy-robot collecting. He’ll bring those attributes with him to the Oct. 20-21 Atlantique City Show.
Rosen will be setting up in his customary booth right off the main appraisal floor, where he’ll ply his famous trade and offer his expert appraisals on baseball cards, classic toy robots and maybe even on a few other pop-culture goodies, depending on what turns up.
“(Appraising) is the most fun of all,” he said. “When I look down the line and see all kinds of people … all of them with great toy robots or mint baseball cards, there’s nothing sexier than that.”
For more than three decades Rosen has been the go-to guy for major publications, television shows and collecting conventions. His industry-altering finds are the stuff of legend: the 1952 Topps find, featuring more than 6,000 “Gem Mint” high-number cards, including 75 Mickey Mantle rookie cards, of which Rosen said: “This was 1986, and I only held one (Mantle rookie) in my hands before. Now I suddenly had 75. I was sniffing around the outside of the guy’s house to make sure he wasn’t printing them himself.”
There was also the Paris, Tenn., find of 1954 and 1955 Topps and Bowman cards; and the 1951-53 Bowman find, with more than 11,000 uncirculated cards, including 32 1951 Bowman Mantle rookie cards, which he uncovered in Kansas City, Kan.
Some of it may be serendipity, but a lot of it is as a result of good old-fashioned hard work and a commitment to making sure the brand of Mr. Mint is a widely recognized as possible.
“Anything that people can remember your name by is important,” he said. “I didn’t understand it at first, but as I started making money in the business I came to understand and believe in the importance of constant advertising and branding.”
In the past four years, Rosen has turned his collecting fervor on toy robots from the golden age of American pop culture, the 1950s and 1960s. He has quickly amassed a collection of incredible depth, more than 500 to date, and has become a well-known entity in their buying and selling. For a man as driven as Rosen, nothing short of the premiere collection in the world will do, and it looks like he’s well on his way, if not already there.
“When I was a kid, my parents bought me robots – I had a Robbie the Robot, I remember – and I would pull off their heads or their feet,” he said. “Collecting is all about recapturing a piece of your past. I was very lucky when I got into robots, because there were many collectors looking to get out just as I was getting in.”
With cash in hand, and an insatiable thirst for knowledge, Rosen quickly got what he wanted. Now, he says half-joking, he may soon get out of baseball cards altogether and go full-time into robots. With an obsession to have every robot in a box ever made and still in existence, it’s almost a sure bet he’ll do it.
Stop by Mr. Mint’s booth at Atlantique City to have a look at his top-shelf merchandise, get a picture taken, or get in the appraisal line with your cards, robots or other choice pop culture or sports memorabilia.
“I’ve been to Atlantique City many times,” Rosen said. “It’s like a happening. There’s such a cross-section of dealers from across the country. I like to get out my camera and walk up and down the aisles just to see what’s there.”
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