And some technical stuff, too Mike Thomas, owner of NearMint’s Vintage Foot-ball Cards in Denver (www.nearmintcards.com), is also the creator of a great website for football card collectors, www.footballcardgallery.com. He’s been dealing in vintage cards for two decades and he’s a big fan of the vintage Topps sets, citing a neat convergence of affordability and attractiveness.
“This is one of the easiest footballs sets in the 1950s to collect in high grade,” said Thomas, who added that the cards do seem to suffer from toning of the white card stock on the back, even to the point of advanced collectors being willing to pay a premium for the whiter examples.
Speaking of card backs and premiums, Thomas calculates there’s also probably some additional juice to be had from cards that haven’t been subjected to some over-enthusiastic youngster molesting the card back by rubbing off the quiz answer with his last nickle.
“I’d say there’s a premium for cards that haven’t had the quiz rubbed off on the back, especially for cards that are sent in for grading,” Thomas continued. “I’ve never seen a PSA 9 with the back scratched (literally speaking), and I think that’s true with other Topps football issues like 1961 and 1969.”
He opines that the first series may be a little tougher to find than the second, but the difference is not dramatic, though it is noted in the Standard Catalog of Football Cards with perhaps a 20 percent premium added. A high-grade example of the full set sold for $2,400 in a Heritage Galleries auction last year.
Speaking of affordability, in addition to the pricey second-year cards of Jim Brown (PSA 9 – $900) and Paul Hornung and the No. 1 Unitas (Near-Mint – $150), the set boasts rookie cards of Sam Huff, Karras, Jim Parker, Bobby Mitchell (SGC 9 – $215) and Jim Taylor, sort of.
The Taylor card for the Hall-of-Fame Packer fullback actually pictures a different Jim Taylor, in this case a linebacker for the Chicago Cardinals of the same name. One would have thought that the bright red uniform would have been a giveaway for the discerning eye, but apparently the outcry from disgruntled youths across the land was minimal, since Topps made the same mistake the next year. Taylor is the only Hall of Famer from any sport thusly dissed: he didn’t show up on a Topps card until his third try.
“Collectors aren’t sure which to pursue,” said Thomas, adding that the snafu leave’s Taylor third-year ditty in the 1961 Topps set – an admittedly great card itself – with some additional heft in the pricing department because of its ersatz rookie-card status.
Thomas had one final observation about the popular set, which he insists suffers from the typical centering problems that plagued so many 1950s and 1960s Topps baseball and football card issues.