Collectible Topps Baseball Cards and Sets

In the world of baseball-card publishers, Topps reigns supreme. Although it didn't begin full-fledged baseball-card production until 1951, Topps quickly mastered the art and ascended to the top of the market, fulfilling the boast of its name.

The Topps Chewing Gum Co. was founded by the Shorin brothers in Brooklyn in 1938, but the original incarnation of the company dates to 1890, when the brothers’ father started American Leaf Tobacco. Cards entered the picture shortly after World War II, when Topps began packaging picture cards with its one-cent pieces of gum. In 1948, it released a 252-card set of “Magic Photos” with its chewable product. That set included 19 baseball players. Those cards are considered by some to be the first Topps baseball cards, but they weren’t your usual baseball cards. In fact, they were blank—the magic photo only appeared after the card was put under a light.

Topps’ first full baseball card sets were produced in 1951. The company made team sets, a major-league All-Star set, a “Connie Mack All-Stars set,” a blue backs set, and a red backs set. The red backs set had 52 cards, the biggest of all of the ’51 sets, and was the most memorable of an otherwise-hodgepodge collection. While Topps may have swung and missed in 1951, it hit it out of the park a year later, in 1952.

That was the year Topps released its first full baseball card set, still considered the most collectible set ever printed. Hall of Famers such as Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Eddie Mathews, and Jackie Robinson had some of their best cards in that set.

The man credited with designing the 1952s, and thus escalating Topps to the top of the market, is Sy Berger. He standardized the information on each card to include the player’s name, height, weight, birthplace, birthday, photo, facsimile signature, stats, bats, throws, a short bio, and the team name and logo. Berger became the liaison between Topps and Major League Baseball players—it was his duty to sign them to contacts, a job he was quite adept at. Berger worked for Topps until 1997, and served as a consultant until 2002.

Berger was so successful in signing players to card contracts that by 1955, Topps’ competition had ceased to exist. Bowman had been the market leader prior to Topps, but by 1955 it caved to the growing giant and allowed Topps to buy it out.

Although Topps was very successful at signing baseball players to contracts, it did have one famous fail. In 1958, a Topps scout decided not to sign one minor league ballplayer t...

In 1959, the Fleer Corporation was able to sign an exclusive contact with Boston Red Sox star Ted Williams, which was a minor coup for that company, but neither the Wills nor Williams misses prevented Topps from dominating the market.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Topps faced little-to-no competition in the baseball-card market. Its biggest adversary may have been the Federal Trade Commission, which, in 1962, looked into whether Topps’ monopoly of the baseball-card industry violated antitrust laws. After a lot of long, drawn-out testimony, it was determined that Topps was in compliance with the law.

Unfortunately for Topps, this was not the last time it faced monopolization charges. In 1980, Fleer filed a lawsuit accusing Topps of restraint of trade. This time Topps was found to be in violation of antitrust laws—it could not have exclusive-rights contracts with players. This ruling allowed competitors Fleer and Donruss to enter the market in 1981, though they were not allowed to issue baseball cards with gum or alone (Fleer issued cards with logo stickers while Donruss released cards with puzzle pieces).

By 1987, Topps’ decided market advantage was a thing of the past. It gave in and became the last card company to sign a contract with the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA) to obtain player contracts. In the past, Topps had signed players individually, but the MLBPA began advising players not to sign with Topps, so the company caved and joined up.

The list of highly collectible Topps baseball sets is vast, but a few of the more popular ones include 1955, which featured rookie cards for Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax, 1957, and 1968, which had rookie cards for Johnny Bench and Nolan Ryan. Although it is most famous for its baseball cards, Topps has also made football, basketball, and hockey cards.

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2016 Topps The Mint Mike Trout 3-color Patch Autograph Auto 67/75 Angels1952 Topps Mickey Mantle New York Yankees #311 Baseball Card Psa 4Mike Trout 2016 Topps The Mint Rare Mlb Jumbo Logo Patch On Card Auto Sp#35/75 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax Rookie #123 Psa 5 (looks Like A 7++) See Scans!1953 Topps Baseball Complete Set (274) W/ Mantle, Mays, Paige, Jackie Robinson1968 Topps #177 Nolan Ryan Rookie Psa 81958 Topps Baseball Card Complete Set Of (495)-ex+1967 Topps Hi # Tom Seaver #581 Rookie Baseball Card2016 Kris Bryant Topps Chrome Variation Superfractor 1/1, Mvp? Cubs Superstar!2012 Bowman Chrome Corey Seager Rc 2016 Topps 8x10 Orange Refractor Auto #13/251963 Topps #200 Mickey Mantle Psa 91955 Topps Baseball Complete Set (210) W/ Koufax Clemente Killebrew Rc / Mays2003 Topps 1954 Retro Henry Hank Aaron Hof Braves Rc Rookie Signed Blue Ink Auto1963 Topps #537 Pete Rose Reds Rc Rookie Psa 8 Nm-mt " Super Hot Card "1959 Topps Baseball Complete Set (572) W/ Gibson Anderson Rc, Mantle Clemente1974 Topps Baseball Complete Set #1-660 Exmt-nmmt Minus 2 Cards 2016 Topps The Mint Baseball Gold Engravings Ken Griffey Jr Auto /99 Or Less!1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Rookie Psa 71975 Topps Baseball Complete Set #1-660 Exmt-nmmt George Brett Rookie Rc 1974 Topps Baseball Complete Set #1-660 Exmt-nmmt Dave Winfield Rookie Rc 2016 Topps Strata Mike Trout Clearly Authentic Auto Relic Black #49/50 Angels1957 Psa Graded Topps Complete Set1962 Topps #387 Lou Brock Rookie Psa 91953 Topps Baseball #82 Mickey Mantle Sp Psa 2 Good Hof Yankees1963 Topps #537 Pete Rose Reds Rc Rookie Sgc 88 Nm/mt 8 " Should Crossover "1963 Topps #537 Pete Rose Reds Rc Rookie Bvg 8 Nm-mt " Awesome Centering "1969 Topps #260 Reggie Jackson Hof Oakland Rc Rookie Psa 8 Nm-mt " Pack Fresh "1996 Topps Autographed Baseball Card Contract. Mariano Rivera Yankees2016 Topps The Mint Gem 10 Autograph Sylvester Stallone Rocky Balboa Auto 39/50 2016 Topps Chrome Corey Seager Rc Autograph Blue Refractor #/150 Rookie Auto2011 Topps 1962 Retro Sandy Koufax Hof Los Angeles Dodgers Signed Blue Ink Auto 2012 Topps Tier 1 One Eddie Murray Bat Knob #ed 1/1 Game Used Orioles One Of One1976 Topps Baseball Complete Set #1-660 Exmt-nmmt Dennis Eckersley Rookie Rc Dansby Swanson 2015 Bowman Chrome Auto Bgs 9.5 Autograph 10 Braves Draft1969 Topps #500 Mickey Mantle Auto Psa/dna Authentic 100581b2016 Topps The Mint Autograph Jumbo Patch Mike Trout On Card Auto #7/75 Angels 1963 Topps #537 Pete Rose Cincinnati Reds Rc Rookie Psa 7 Nm " Pack Fresh "1958 Topps #150 Mickey Mantle New York Yankees Hof Psa 6 Ex-mt1968 Topps #177 Nolan Ryan Rookie Hof Mets Psa 6 Well Centered *6143231967 Topps Tom Seaver #581 Mets High # Sp Psa 5 (centered) Wow !!!!2016 Topps The Mint Sylvester Stallone "rocky Balboa" Autograph Auto 22/991977 Topps Baseball Complete Set #1-660 Exmt-nmmt Mark Fidrych Rookie Rc Corey Seager 2016 Topps Chrome Blue Ref Auto Rc #/75 Refractor Rookie DodgersMickey Mantle 1956 Topps Psa 6 Amazing Card Could Be 7 Regrade?1955 Topps Harmon Killebrew Rookie Psa 71955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax Hof Brooklyn Dodgers Rc Rookie Psa 5 Ex1968 Topps Mickey Mantle #280 Psa Dna Signed Autograph Bold Sharpie Auto 1955 Topps Complete Set- Roberto Clemente #164 Rookie Sandy Koufax #123 Rookie1955 Topps Set Break #164 Roberto Clemente Rc Sgc 50 Vg Ex 4 1258c1957 Topps Brooks Robinson #328 Baltimore Orioles Rc Hof Psa 7 NmPsa 10 2014 Bowman Chrome Mookie Betts Rc Auto 1976 Topps Baseball Complete Set #1-660 Exmt-nmmt Dennis Eckersley Rookie Rc #21969 Topps #500 Mickey Mantle Psa 6 Ex Mt 100584b2015 Bowman Chrome Draft Brendan Rodgers Auto Rc Rockies Psa Gem Mint 10 Hot!!!1968 Topps #177 Nolan Ryan Hof New York Mets Rc Rookie Bvg 8 Nm-mt " High End "1971 Topps #630 Roberto Clemente Pirates Psa 8 Well Centered2016 Topps Chrome Carlos Correa Orange Refractor Rc Auto 11/25 Arcc (no Reserve)1963 Topps Pete Rose Rc Sgc 45 1960 Topps Carl Yastrzemski Rc Psa 4 2 Card Lot 1963 Topps #537 Pete Rose Rc Psa 31967 Topps Baseball (489) Count Assorted Card Lot (vg Average) 0049