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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Old Cardboard

Old Cardboard

Check out this well-organized collection of 500 sets of baseball cards, each over 50 years old. Browsable by type a… [read review or visit site]

The Baseball Card Blog

The Baseball Card Blog

Ben Henry's lively vintage baseball card blog, started in January 2006, offers hundreds of great posts on (and pict… [read review or visit site]

Cardboard Junkie

Cardboard Junkie

Dave Campbell's in-depth blog on old baseball (and some football) cards lives up to it's motto: 'do cards, not drug… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Roll up your socks for this Library of Congress collection showcasing hundreds of players on colorful early basebal… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Hall of Fame

A home run for baseball collectors, this site features special online exhibits, ranging from a baseball-uniforms da… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1968 Topps Baseball Near Complete (92%) Card Set ... Nm-mt+ ... Ryan, Bench Rc2009 Bowman Sterling Prospects Mike Trout Rookie Rc Auto Psa 10 Gem Mint1967 Topps Baseball Complete (609) Card Set ... Nm+ ... Seaver & Carew Rookies1959 Topps Setbreak #514 Bob Gibson Rc Rookie Hof St Louis Cardinals Psa 8 Nm-mt1971 Topps Baseball Complete Set 752 Cards 24% Nm-mt 50% Nm, 17% Exmt Mays Psa 8Mike Trout /10 $1500+ Auto Angels Game Worn Logo Patch Jumbo Jersey Topps Museum1969 Topps Baseball Complete Card Set W/ All Variations ... Nm-mt+ ... Mantle1955 Topps Roberto Clemente Rookie Baseball Card #164 Psa 6 Last One Sold $2550*1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle Rookie2 Lot - 2011 Mike Trout Topps Update Silver Diamond & Blue Walmart Borderˆ1953 Topps # 82 Mickey Mantle Yankees Sgc 80 Ex-mint 6 Set Break2009 Topps Bowman Sterling Mike Trout Auto # 092/1992013 Topps Museum Collection Mike Trout Dual Jersey Auto 14/252011 Topps Finest Refractor Mike Trout Auto #to 499 1954 Bowman Ted Williams #66 ... Graded Psa 3 Vg ... Centered1955 Topps #164 Roberto Clemente Rc Rookie Hof Pirates Psa 2 Good2014 Topps Strata Series One David Wright Jumbo Logo Patch Auto Ny Mets #3/251956 Topps Roberto Clemente #33 Baseball Card Gai/psa 8.5 **great Investment** 1955 Topps Psa 7.5 Nm+ Psa Graded Baseball Card Complete Set 1954 Topps Henry (hank) Aaron, #128 Braves Psa 4Frank Thomas 1990 Topps Rc #414 ** Nnof **. Psa 8. Super Rare! The Real Deal!ˆRickey Henderson 2014 Topps Tier One Auto Jersey Patch #10/251963 Topps #537 Rookie Stars In Lucite Frame Pete Rose Pedro GonzalezMike Trout 2011 Topps Update Rookie Rc Card #us175 Hope Diamond #/60 Sp Psa MintHi End! 1954 Topps #90 Willie Mays Ex Psa 5 Nq(hof)(looks Ex-mint++!)1961 Topps Baseball Complete Set 587 Cards 53% Nm-mt Or Nm, 26% Exmt 16% Ex+/ex1960 Topps Baseball Complete Set 572 Cards 22% Nm Or Better, 41% Exmt 30% Ex+/ex1963 Topps #537 Pete Rose Rc Rookie Reds Psa 5 Ex10 Lot - 2011 Mike Trout Topps Update Rookieˆ2011 Topps Finest Dual Auto Autograph Jersey Superfractor Rc Craig Kimbrel 1/1Jose Abreu On Card Framed Mini Auto 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter Rc White Sox Sp1959 Topps #10 Mickey Mantle Hof Yankees Psa 4 Vg-exHi End! 1978 Topps #36 Eddie Murray Rookie Mint Psa 9 Nq(hof)razor Sharp Corners1959 Topps Setbreak #564 Mickey Mantle Hof All Star New York Yankees Psa 8 Nm-mt1965 Topps Fb Joe Namath #122 Rookie Psa/dna Autograph Ar7011959 Topps #514 Bob Gibson Rc Rookie Hof Cardinals Psa 5.5 Ex+1993 Upper Deck Sp Foil Derek Jeter New York Yankees Rc Rookie1953 Topps #220 Satchel Paige Graded Sgc 60 Ex 5 St. Louis Browns2011 Triple Threads Justin Verlander Logo Patch/dual Patch-1/1-beauty!!!!!!!!!1994 Signature Rookies #35 Derek Jeter Yankees Rookie Rc Signed Auto 4310/8650Hot Joey Gallo 2012 Bowman Chrome Rc Rookie Auto Autograph Texas Rangers1975 Topps Baseball Lot Of 62 Cards All Psa 8 Nm-mt.2013 Triple Threads Legends Babe Ruth 7 Relic Game-used Bat Yankees #11/272011 Topps Update Set 1-330 Mike Trout Rc Psa 10 & Paul Goldschmidt Psa 10 RcJorge Posada 2014 Topps Tier One Game Used Autographed Bat Knob 1/1 Ny Yankees1972 Topps Baseball Complete Set 1-787 High#'s & Sp's! Amazing Set! Ex++Roberto Clemente 1956 Topps #33 - Pittsburgh Pirates - Nrmint-mint! Incredible!Mike Trout /5 $1500+ On Card Blue Ink Auto Angels Sp Topps Museum Gold Autographˆˆ1958 Topps Baseball Complete Set 494 Cards 81% Ex Or Better Mantle Psa 6 Oc1960 Topps #350 Mickey Mantle Hof Yankees Psa 6.5 Ex-mt+1972 Topps Near Complete Set 771/787 Ryan, Rose, Mays, Fisk Only Missing Commons1952 Topps #261 Willie Mays New York Giants Hof Psa 3 Vg2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects Bryce Harper Rookie Rc Auto Psa 9 Mint2014 Topps Tier One Hank Aaron Clear Acetate Auto Autograph /10 Silver Ink 1990 Topps O-pee-chee Opc Baseball Unopened Wax Pack Box Bbce

Recent News: Topps Baseball Cards

Source: Google News

Topps Tiles Plc Coverage Initiated by Analysts at Berenberg Bank (TPT)
Watch List News (press release), July 28th

Shares of Topps Tiles Plc (LON:TPT) opened at 103.66 on Friday. Topps Tiles Plc has a one year low of GBX 76.50 and a one year high of GBX 156.00. The stock has a 50-day moving average of GBX 108.8 and a 200-day moving average of GBX 128.2...Read more

Collect call: 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter
Tbo.com (blog), July 27th

Just like the anticipation I feel for Topps' flagship Series One and Two, the Allen & Ginter set delivers interesting cards that have an eclectic mix that is irresistible. Never mind that the design has remained pretty much the same since it debuted in...Read more

Topps Continues Partnership With Ultimate Fight Championship With New ...
Latin Post, July 26th

Topps, who has deals in place with other sports brands such as the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS), and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), believes that series like the "Knockout" card sets that ...Read more

Future of card collecting? Topps' Bunt app embraces digital era
The Plain Dealer, July 25th

Topps – the venerable baseball-card company that has issued scores of sets over 60-plus years – launched Topps Bunt app, a digital trading-card game, in April 2012. It's one of the company's three sports-card apps that update statistics in real time...Read more

2014 Topps 75th Anniversary Hall of Fame Metal Wall Art
The Cardboard Connection, July 24th

2014 Topps 75th Anniversary Hall of Fame Metal wall art offers something more durable than many of the company's other poster and print offerings. Celebrating 75 years of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the lineup features 20 different players who...Read more

2014 Topps Return of the Jedi 3D Widevision Trading Cards
The Cardboard Connection, July 23rd

At long last, the original trilogy is complete. 2014 Topps Return of the Jedi 3D Widevision finally rounds out the original batch of films in the enhanced over-sized format. But there's a bit of a twist. Rather than a traditional pack structure like...Read more

AXL ROSE Finally Delivers Certified Autograph For TOPPS
BLABBERMOUTH.NET, July 14th

According to Beckett.com, the Topps baseball-card publisher has revealed via Twitter that GUNS N' ROSES frontman Axl Rose finally signed his trading card as part of the 2013 Topps Archives Heavy Metal series — an autographed parallel printed on metal ...Read more

2014 Topps All-Star FanFest Baseball Cards
The Cardboard Connection, July 14th

Collectors attending the 2014 MLB All-Star FanFest in Minnesota have a shot at several exclusive baseball cards made especially for the event. There are two different 2014 Topps All-Star FanFest sets, a wrapper redemption and a purchase incentive...Read more