The Post War Cards Newsletter #9
Random Hobby Tip: Even if you think a Buy it Now item you want on eBay is overpriced, add it to your watch list. Remember, sellers can make offers to watchers. I get so many great deals this way.
1974 Topps and its Tests Issues
Topps made a lot of changes to its baseball card lineup in 1974. First, from a packaging perspective, they decided they would follow their 1973 Topps all-series test and exclusively release their 1974 baseball set in all-series boxes. Next, in response to rising costs (which I wrote about in a post about 1973 Topps Football 15-Cent Test Packs), in 1974, Topps marketed 15-cent wax packs (of 12 cards) to ~10% of the country, along with 10-cent wax packs (of 8 cards) to the majority of the baseball card market; you can see all the 1974 products on the Unopened Archive. The 8-card packs came 36 to a box, and the 12-card packs came 24 to a box. This move prepared baseball collectors for 10-card, 15-cent packs in 1975.
Topps also got more serious about Traded cards (which they kicked off in 1972) and included a 44-card subset with its own checklist.
But the most exciting thing Topps tested in 1974 was an expansion to their core product line with four test issues. As a for-profit company, they were trying out some new items to see if they could boost sales during a rough economic time, but unfortunately, none of them stuck.
The Action Emblems packs are the hardest to find today; some versions say “Cloth Stickers” on the label while others only say “Stickers.” The Baseball Photos are now commonly referred to as the 1974 Topps Deckle Edge cards. The oversized, 72-card set is loaded with Hall-of-Famers and is the most in-demand of the four test issues. The 1974 Topps Stamps set has 240 pieces to collect, and Topps also made 24 albums, each for ten stamps. The Jigsaw puzzle packs all featured Tom Seaver on the wrapper and contained 40 puzzle pieces of 12 “Top Stars.”
Topps released/tested most of the items in the New England area, and due to their scarcity, they’re all very pricey.
Great Hobby Writing
Pre-War Cards: Inexpensive Bobby Jones Golf Card Hidden in International Homeland Events Sets
Beckett: Emile Francis: Good-bye to the Cat
Sports Collectors Daily: The Rare Junk Wax Era Basketball Card “Set” That’s Flown Below the Radar for 30 Years
Junk Wax Jay: Trading Cards: Erasing that Old Bad Feeling in Search of the new
Wrigley Wax: O-Pee-Chee 1974 - Incomplete
Collectors Dashboard: Explaining 1948 Leaf Color Variations: Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial & More
Sports Collectors Digest: These autograph collectors fulfilled their dreams at The National
Topps Archives: AC See Ya!
For Love of the Cards: A Back Stamp Leads to a New Discovery for Me
I also suggest The Yount Collector as a great follow
Interesting Auction Items
Robert Edwards Auctions is one of the biggest auction houses, particularly for vintage cards, and the catalog is a collectible on its own. They just wrapped up their 2022 summer auction, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite items. These aren’t the headliner or most expensive items, just stuff I felt was unique and exciting.
You may know I’m also @ChecklistGuy on Twitter, so the highlight to me was Lot 827, an Extremely Rare 1947-1966 Exhibits Checklist Featuring Joe DiMaggio. The card sold for $840, and I ended up as the underbidder. I’ve only seen three of these checklists in my life (another variation has Al Evans listed first); collectors believe they were advertising mailers ESCO used to tout the sets.
REA also sold an incredible run of 7 Kahn’s basketball sets (Lots 2728-2732, 2802, and 2803; just missing the 64s and 65s). They listed the 1960 Jerry West (Lot 2727) separately, on which my bids got annihilated. I was particularly surprised to see the 1957 set sell for so much ($18k). If you’re interested in learning more about Kahn’s basketball cards, I’ve documented them all on the Oddball Archive.
The highlight of the unopened items was Lot #1760, a 1960 Topps Unopened Rack Pack with a Carl Yastrzemski Rookie on Top, which sold for $28,200. REA wrote that “This incredible rack pack originates from one of the hobby's most famous finds - Alan "Mr. Mint" Rosen's Jessup, MD discovery of unopened material.” If you want to learn more about Mr. Mint, I just wrote a review of his first book on the blog.
I wrote about the 1974 Topps Deckle Edge test issue up above, and REA sold a complete set of 72 white-backed cards (Lot 1688) for $15k. The white backs are a bit scarcer than the gray-backed variants.
The big surprise to me had to be Lot 2833. A 1975-1976 Topps Basketball PSA 10 Moses Malone Rookie sold for $43,200! REA also sold one in April 2022 for $90k, but there are 36 PSA 10 examples. Malone is an all-time great, but the card was only around $2k through early 2020 and $8-10k from August 2020 until a $20k sale in August 2021 and that $90k sale in April 2022. I wasn’t tracking the “Chairman of the Board’s” hobby resurgence.
Lastly, I’m bummed that I missed out on Lot 834, a Near-Complete set (47/48) of 1948 R346 Blue Tint cards; the lot was only missing Jackie Robinson. The cards are rare, generally found in poor condition, and one of my favorites because they were one of the first vintage oddball sets I studied.
In Search of a Blue-Tint Royal Dessert
Sports fans found the 1950 Royal Desserts cards on Royal Dessert products over three years. The set has 25-cards, but my favorite is Pee Wee Reese. And there are four variations if you include the sample card with the advertising back.
Card 2a’s 2nd paragraph begins with “Pee Wee’s.”
Card 2b’s 2nd paragraph begins with “Captain and sparkplug,” and Card 2c is the Ad-backed card.
The fourth variant is the blue-tint photo version, which I have never seen, but heard collectors discuss. So if you have a photo of one, please reach out to me!
In the News
Sports Collectors Daily: Huge Tobacco Card Finds Include Rare T206 Backs, 16 Cobbs, Old Judge Cards
PR Newswire: eBay has Entered into an Agreement to Acquire TCGplayer
WSB Atlanta: Hank Aaron Baseball Card Sells for Record Price
The Athletic: Mickey Mantle rookie card sells for record-breaking $12.6 million
Sports Collectors Digest: Beckett launches new vault for storing sports cards, collectibles
1980s-era collectors have been jumping into the modern rainbow concept with runs of Topps, Topps Tiffany, and O-Pee-Chee cards. Here’s a great example from @Very_Cool_Cards of my favorite player, Cal Ripken Jr.