Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ranking the Top 15 Baseball Card Sets of All-Time

When ranking the top 15 baseball card sets of all-time, many factors were taken into consideration, such as: set design, rookie cards, number of hall of famers, historical significance, difficulty in completing, difficulty in completing in top condition, and overall value. Feel free to comment with any suggestions or disagreements.

1. 1909-1911 T206 White Border
2. 1952 Topps
3. 1933 Goudey
4. 1914 Cracker Jack
5. 1909-1911 E90-1 American Caramel
6. 1951 Bowman
7. 1941 Play Ball
8. 1948 Leaf
9. 1934-1936 Diamond Stars
10. 1911 T205 Gold Border
11. 1932 US Caramel
12. 1933 Goudey Sport Kings
13. 1954 Wilson Franks
14. 1953 Bowman Color
15. 1971 Topps

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The New Hall of Fame Classic

With the annual Hall of Fame Game now just a memory, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will inaugurate a new tradition next year: the Hall of Fame Classic Weekend to coincide with Father's Day and the beginning of summer.

The Hall of Fame has teamed up with the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association to create the Hall of Fame Classic, which will make its debut the Father's Day weekend of June 20-21 with an assortment of interactive activities at both the Museum and historic Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The Classic -- to be held Sunday, June 21 -- is an exhibition game featuring four Hall of Famers and more than 20 other retired Major League players. In addition, there will be a hitting contest and autograph sessions throughout the day with no extra cost for Hall of Fame Classic ticket holders.

"We are extremely excited to start a new Cooperstown tradition for multi-generational families everywhere," Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said. "In tandem with the MLBPAA, we are thrilled to bring a marquee event to Doubleday Field, which promises to be a lot of fun and incredibly interactive. We know how much our visitors appreciate the human connectivity our events encompass."

Doubleday Field, the site of the defunct annual Hall of Fame Game, has been made famous by scores of Major League stars and future Hall of Famers who played exhibition games there, the filming of scenes from A League Of Their Own in 1992 and recently as a concert venue for Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, The Beach Boys and others.

Other events being planned are a game of catch at Doubleday Field for fathers and their children or grandfathers and their grandchildren, as well as a skills clinic for children, featuring former Major League players, and a number of events in the Museum in a salute to fathers. Ticket information and a complete schedule of events are forthcoming.

"We're honored to be a part of this," said Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, who is also the president of the Alumni Association. "There's a lot we can do to promote the game of baseball. This will be a great success and hit here in Cooperstown. It will be a lot of fun, autographs, family entertainment. That's what it's all about."

"I think it's fantastic for the Museum and the Hall of Fame," Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board Jane Forbes Clark said. "It's really terrific for the community. This allows us to fill that gap with programming. I'm thrilled."

"We will couple The Classic with a number of other exciting family activities and programs throughout Classic Weekend, assuring that Cooperstown is the definitive Father's Day Weekend destination," Idelson added. "Classic Weekend will be engaging, educational and tremendous fun for community members, as well as baseball-loving families across the country. Given that Cooperstown is steeped in nostalgia, a legends-style baseball game is a natural fit."

The cancellation of the 2008 Hall of Fame Game ended a tradition dating to 1940, when the Chicago Cubs beat the Boston Red Sox, 10-9, despite two home runs by Ted Williams. Scheduling problems in recent years resulted in the end of the series that was an annual pairing of Major League clubs in the traditional birthplace of the sport.

When the Hall of Fame Museum officially opened June 12, 1939 -- an open date on the big league schedule -- an All-Star Game was played featuring two players from each big league club and managed by Hall inductees Honus Wagner and Eddie Collins. There were also exhibition games later that summer between the New York Yankees and the Triple-A Newark Bears, and between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Penn Athletic Club.

At that year's Winter Meetings, the clubs agreed to arrange for teams to participate annually in an exhibition game in Cooperstown, starting in 1940. Through 1978, the game was scheduled the same Sunday as the Induction Ceremony. From 1979 through 2002, games were scheduled the Monday after the induction.

This was the sixth consecutive season that the Hall of Fame Game was to be held on a separate weekend from the induction. What was supposed to be the last Hall of Fame Game in June, between the Cubs and San Diego Padres, was rained out. The last completed game was in 2007, when the Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 13-7.

Topps Signs Exclusive Deal with Babe Ruth Estate

Topps and CMG Worldwide (CMG) have reached an agreement that grants Topps the exclusive rights to produce the trading cards of arguably baseball's greatest legend, Babe Ruth. The deal includes exclusivity on trading cards - including game-used memorabilia cards and all other insert cards.

"We are extremely excited to add baseball's greatest legend to the Topps brand," said Warren Friss Topps' GM of Sports & Entertainment. "As the ‘House that Ruth Built' celebrates its final season, we couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the legacy of Yankee Stadium than by giving our fans access to the most legendary player in its storied franchise."

The exclusive Babe Ruth cards were unveiled recently with the release of 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter and will be found in the remainder of Topps' 2008 and 2009 baseball products. The products will feature an array of insert cards, autographed cards and game-used memorabilia cards.

In April, Topps announced a deal with CMG that includes exclusivity on trading cards for 16 former baseball legends including Jackie Robinson, Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Thurman Munson, Roy Campanella, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Cy Young, Mel Ott, Johnny Mize, Jimmie Foxx, Honus Wagner, Pee Wee Reese, George Sisler and Christy Mathewson.

Topps also holds the exclusive trading card rights to the Mickey Mantle Estate and autographed and game-used memorabilia card rights to young stars such as Ryan Howard and David Wright.

Topps to Issue Barack Obama Trading Card Set

Topps announced Friday morning that it will document President-elect Barack Obama’s historic run for the White House in a 90-card set — the Barack Obama Inaugural Edition — in January.

The set will document Obama’s life and will be available in stores nationwide before Inauguration Day. Each pack will contain six cards and one sticker at a suggested retail price of $1.99 per pack.

“The upcoming release of our tribute to Barack Obama carries on the company’s proud tradition of documenting significant and newsworthy moments in time,” said Topps CEO Scott Silverstein. “These cards will resonate with the millions of Americans whose passionate outpouring of support provided President-elect Obama with one of the most memorable and historic victories ever. This educational, entertaining and emotional collection is destined to become an instant classic.”

Topps has produced many non-sports sets over the years, most notably including releases on President Kennedy and “Man on the Moon” cards in the 1960s, the Beatles in 1964 and Desert Storm sets in the early 1990s.

Each card will tell a different story of Obama’s life through dozens of photos and words, many from his own speeches and writings.

Friday, October 31, 2008

1914 & 1915 Cracker Jack Baseball Cards

In 1914 the Cracker Jack Company of Brooklyn and Chicago began inserting baseball cards into its boxes of popcorn and peanut candy. This set (and the one that followed, in 1915) have become one of the iconic sets of the pre WW1 era, and one of the most popular baseball card sets of all time.

The 1914 set was issued as baseball was experiencing a semblance of stability, but that would be short lived. President Taft had thrown out the first pitch a few years earlier (in 1910), giving the sport even more recognition as the National Game, and stars such as Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Shoeless Joe Jackson were either in their primes or near to it. Connie Mack’s Athletics and John McGraw’s Giants were the dominating teams of the era, and the dead ball era was in its golden age.

However, in 1914 a new league began raiding players from the established 2 leagues. While the Federal League would only last 2 seasons, those seasons corresponded exactly with Cracker Jacks offerings, and would be the only cards ever issued picturing Federal League players in uniform. In all, 50 Federal League players are pictured.Comparisons between the 2 sets are natural, since in many ways they are exactly the same. Both feature a player image on a red background, with “Cracker Jack Ball Players” across the top (occasionally bleeding over into the white border) and the player’s name and team affiliation at the bottom.

The ’14 set, however, contain 144 subjects, while the ’15 set adds another 32 players for a total of 176.‘14’s are printed on somewhat thinner paper stock, but both sets are on lighter weight paper (rather than cardboard) than most other issues. If you flip the card over the reverse of the ‘14’s are printed right side up, while the ‘15’s are flipped. The reason for this is that an album was offered with the ‘15’s, and the thinking was that if the cards were pasted in the album the backs should be upside down, so that the card need only be lifted up at the bottom to read the bio on the back.

Cracker Jacks have no white ink in the printing process, so that any areas in the image that are white should match the tone of the borders. This is a critical step in identifying forgeries. As there are few, if any, reprints of ‘14’s, the border matching and the upside down backs (reprints are not printed upside down) are the keys to avoid getting a fake.The ’14 set has an ad on the bottom reverse, stating that it is a series of 144 and either 10 million (cards 1-87) or 15 million (88-144) were issued. The ’15 set has an offer whereby a full set can be obtained via mail in for 100 coupons or 1 coupon and 25 cents. This accounts for a great number of pristine ‘15’s, while ‘14’s are often found stained and in much lower condition.

As stated above, the ’15 set took the first 144 cards of the ’14 and added another 32 cards. However, there are a few exceptions to this. Some players were changed, a few poses were altered, and some players changed teams. Taking this into account, a “master” set of all variations would total 199 different cards, not counting the ad on the back.

The key variations:#48 Harry Lord was replaced by Steve O’Neil in ’15#60 Rollie Zeider had 2 cards in ’14, 60 and 116, with different pictures. #60 was replaced with Oscar Dugey in ’15#62 Jay Cashion in ’14, Willie Mitchell in ’15#88 The big one. 2 players remained in both sets, but with pose changes. The most significant is Christy Mathewson. The ’14 is a pitching pose, the ’15 is a portrait. The ’14 is extremely desirable and is quickly becoming one of the most expensive cards of the era.#93 Derrill Pratt. Pose change, once again throwing to portrait.#99 Another highly desirable player change.

In addition, the following players cards reflected different team affiliations in ’15- 6,7,19,29,38,40,43,47,55,66,92,108,118,121,125,134 Lastly, the ‘14 Bresnahan (#17) comes with and without the number printed on the back.Horizontal cards are the same in both sets (with the exception of Matty) and command a premium over the standard vertical cards. They are:38 (Gandil), 40 (Austin), 43 (Marquard), 44 (Tesreau), 91 (Peckinpaugh),92 (Demaree), 95 (Keating), and 96 (Becker).

The album for the ’15 set consists of little more than an embossed tan cover over black pages. As it is not very desirable they don’t go for a premium- about $400. They were originally offered for 50 coupons or 1 coupon and 10 cents.Care must be taken when acquiring Cracker Jacks, as they are easily doctored. As staining is common they are prime candidates for bleaching, and this has often gone undetected by the major grading companies. Trimming is also common in raw cards.

SMR lists #32 in the ’15 set (Three Finger Brown) as being a very difficult card, which has no evidence to back up that claim. If any card can be considered tougher than others it would probably be Alexander. Jack Barry is also very tough to find well centered, and Frank Owen can be tricky as well.

An Interview with Sy Berger, legendary founder of Topps Baseball Cards

As originally published on,c,806,34,0

Any way you slice it, Sy Berger is a legend. By most accounts, in 1951 the Bowman Company dominated the baseball card market. But in 1952, Topps took the industry by storm with a redesigned card that would literally change the face of popular culture for decades to come. Berger, with help from Woody Gelman, designed the 1952 Topps series which is considered by experts as the prototype of the modern day baseball card. But that’s only half the story. In order to produce the now classic cards that featured such greats as Mickey Mantle, Topps had to get signed contracts from every player whose card they produced. For decades, the man at Topps responsible for securing those contracts was also Berger. Through the golden age of baseball, he was a fixture in the New York clubhouses racing against the competition for exclusive contracts and making some lasting friendships along the way. At 81, Berger shows no sign of slowing down. Between dividing his time as an advisor to Topps, representing Willie Mays, playing with his grandchildren and an occasional round of golf among many other activities, Berger is as active as any 30 year-old. A member of SABR since 1978, we are delighted to provide a brief glimpse into the unique life of Sy Berger in this edition of the SABR Nine.

1. What do you think made your card design more appealing than Bowman?

Well, if you go back to the Bowman cards of 1948 and they were black and white…they were small...the pictures did not have any names on the front…they weren’t designed.
They did not put in a large card until we started to because they had it [the card market] to themselves, and what the heck, they didn’t have to do anything fancy. We came out in 1952 with a card in color, beautiful color…and a card that was large. Our first cards were 2 5/8 by 3 3/4…much larger [than Bowman’s]…and for the first time we had a team logo. Also, we had the 1951 line statistics and their lifetime statistics. I mean, no one else did it. Ours was the card of the fan…we stormed on them, we knocked them out of the box. And you can even see, if you really look carefully, the considered rookie card of Mickey Mantle is our 1952 card. Bowman had a card of Mantle in 1951. The first Bowman card was card number 253. It’s a valuable card, but you speak to people, "What’s Mantle’s rookie card?" And of course you know the answer. You’ve got to understand, we were neophytes in this, in putting out cards, especially seasonal cards like sports cards. Which I want you to know, I wrote very single one of those 1952 cards. I wrote them and I recalculated the statistics because everything in one book says a guy’s 6 foot 2, in the next book it says he’s 5 foot 11. One says he weighs 300lbs, the other says 200lbs. You know, information wasn’t that ready in those days and I worked and I did everything...the whole series at home. Three hundred and seven cards.

2. Who was the most instrumental player in helping Topps get started in the baseball trading card business?

As far as the players go, I went in to the clubhouses for the very first time in 1951…none of them knew who I was…I was just a young fella and had a good smile and they say it was my charm. Willie Mays, of course had a great impact. I am still his oldest and best friend and I handle most of his business affairs now. Of course, he became a star by ’54 when he came out of the Army and was MVP. And I was always in the clubhouse…this is New York. So, I was known as "Willie’s friend." [They would say] "Well, you know, if it’s good enough for Willie, it’s good enough for me."

Jerry Coleman, who was a player representative for the Yankees, [and I] worked out a contract in which we finally had to bow a little to things. Those concessions we made to him ended up in the contracts other players were signing. So that had an impact. If you look around there’s Ted Kluszewski, he was with Cincinnati. He was my man. And Gil Hodges. And Eddie Yost, who as a player representative, with the Washington Senators [was] also one of the guys I befriended.

3. Was your strategy at first trying to get as many players as you could or to get key players and
hope that others would join in?

My hope in those days was to go into a clubhouse and sign every guy in the clubhouse. I wanted to sign everybody. And, of course, there was opposition. Some guy would say, "Oh, no" because Bowman had gotten their rights. But I started signing players and the other people sort of moved away. Every time a team came to New York or Brooklyn I was there. I brought bubble gum into the clubhouses, and for the first time the guys were chewing bubble gum instead of tobacco. And I brought in picture cards [for the players]. You know Bowman never even gave the guys their picture cards! I brought in packages, a hundred of each guy’s card and gave it to them. Then I brought in the cards and put them around on the chairs and the tables. It was Topps. We had a presence. I was there, and Topps was there, we always brought our product into the clubhouse including Bazooka. And so as a result, I became very friendly with all of the players. I was always around.

4. Who are some of the notable sportswriters that worked with you and Topps over the years to produce and promote baseball cards?

In New York – Dick Young. He never failed to mention in his Friday notes column Topps or Sy Berger. Then Jack Lang. Dick Young was Daily News, Jack Lang was with the Newhouse papers. Norman Miller did the backs of a number of our sports cards after the initial year. And, oh yes, Arthur and Milt Richman. They supported me. I became part of the team. I was not a stranger. And as we go across the country, Jerry Holtzman. Very close. And also radio broadcasters…I knew everybody…fellows like the public relations director at the time for the Cincinnati Reds, Dave Grote who became the PR director of the National League and Warren Giles who became league president. And out on the coast, Mel Durslag, he was in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Harry Jupiter graduated from the same high school in New York as I did. But I found him in San Francisco.

5. What was something about Topps baseball cards or a particular Topps series that very few people would know about?

Everybody wondered how all of a sudden we had gotten Ted Williams in our 1954 series. We were in a legal battle with Bowman back-and-forth, and Bowman thought they had an option to get his picture in 1954. At any rate, Ted Williams was the man. I wanted to get him, to sign him.
Fred Corcoran was Ted Williams’ agent, and I told him I had a program I wanted to talk to him about that included Ted. I spoke to him and told him how I would feature Ted and we would do Williams honor. And he got up and he says, "Kid, I like you. You got Teddy." And we made a five-year deal. It was exclusive…he could only be on Topps picture cards for the next five years….’54 through ’58. And it was only $400 a year. Don’t forget that then we paid for exclusive contracts. Bowman was paying $100, were paying $125 for exclusive, $75 for non-exclusive. And Williams was probably getting $100 from them. This is going back to the old days. Then in ’54 Bowman thought they had an option but they didn’t and they printed his card, but they could not include it. [Once Bowman printed the card], we threatened to sue them because we had a contract. Of course some of them got out, but they had to go and hand pick the cards out. We used Williams through ’58 but gave him up in ’59 because Fleer offered him $5,000 to do a series [of just Williams].

6. Do you think the game is the same as it was in the 1950’s?

I know records are made to be broken, but there are so many different conditions as the years go on. They [records] should be specified by decades. Ten-year, even five-year. The player today is a guy who’s got wealth, particularly the stars. Well , the players in the early days, through the ‘50’s and the ‘60’s and even into the ‘70’s, for crying out loud, they had to go get a job to feed their family during the off-season. And how many Babe Ruths [star players] did you have? The money was tough. And also, today’s player keeps himself in shape. He virtually has to keep himself in shape all year. Then you go look into even the way the mind works. Nobody was walking Babe Ruth with the bases loaded. And nobody was walking Willie Mays with the bases loaded. Barry Bonds is a great hitter, but there’s a Sosa, there’s a Griffey, there’s so many of these guys who can hit. [Today’s players] have better equipment. Everybody’s bat used to be the same…Ash. Now you’ve got harder wood, you’ve got a tighter ball and you’ve got pitchers with more deliveries. How can you compare one to the next?

7. As Willie Mays’ friend, how do you think his accomplishments stand against Barry Bonds?

I have a very good relationship with Barry Bonds. I was dear friends with his father who he loved dearly. And Barry is very close to Willie Mays. Willie Mays is truly his godfather – it’s no game. He thinks a lot about Willie and I’ve heard Willie talk to him, "You shouldn’t do this, you shouldn’t do that." And Willie is for him breaking the record. Willie wishes every time he gets up that Barry hits a home run. My personal feeling is that if Willie hadn’t played in Candlestick Park he would have hit 800 home runs. Willie from ’58 or ’59 on had to swing in that park in the way it was originally built. They tried to fix it up a little, maybe a little. The wind blew in from left field. Just blew in. And I tell you I sat in a box at 3rd base for the whole game and papers were flying into my face. And here Willie is supposed to hit home runs to left field? So he had to learn to hit the ball to center field and right field, which was maybe 30, 40 feet longer. Still had a wind pushing it. My feeling about baseball and what I’ve seen, I have never seen a player as good as Willie Mays.

8. What do you think changed the dynamic of the trading card industry from kid-focused to collector-focused?

Value appreciation. Mama used to give you a nickel and say, "Now don’t buy those stupid baseball cards." And now she’s saying, "And remember, don’t forget to buy the baseball cards so you can go to college!" Value appreciation. Now it’s strictly for collectors. And it’s too bad because our baseball cards, I felt, were an encyclopedia for a kid. With our sports cards, we tried our best and I think we accomplished making them as accurate as humanly possible. Give the kid as much information as possible...In fact, I used to say, "We made baseball cards. Today, we make works of art." What more can we do?

9. So what do you think is the future for baseball cards?

I think everything is cyclical. And the time is going to come when suddenly baseball cards will be the big thing with kids again. Look at how people dress. They change…then suddenly you see, "Hey, we did that ten years ago." When they run out of new ideas, they go back to the old.

Monday, October 27, 2008

1950 Bowman Baseball Cards

1950 Bowman is an interesting set to collect because this was the only year in which Bowman had a monopoly on the baseball card business. No other national issues were released that year; Leaf ceased production in 1949 and Topps would not issue its first set until 1951. This set contains many great Hall of Fame cards of players like Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, Warren Spahn, Bob Feller, Phil Rizzuto, Duke Snider, and Pee Wee Reese.

The 1950 Bowman set contains 252 cards. Cards #1-72 are scarce and are very difficult to find. Like the 1949 Bowman set, the 1950 Bowman cards measured 2 1/16" by 2 1/2", quite a bit smaller than what is now considered the standard size for baseball cards. The photographs on the front of the cards are colorized black and white photographs, with some black outlining.

The 1950 Bowman set marks the first time that Bowman would use this technique. Bowman would continue to feature this card front until color photographs were issued in the 1953 Bowman Color set. Most of the portraits are vertical, but a few of them (notably Snider and Berra) are horizontal.

The 1950 Bowman set marks the first time that Bowman would use this technique. Bowman would continue to feature this card front until color photographs were issued in the 1953 Bowman Color set. Most of the portraits are vertical, but a few of them (notably Snider and Berra) are horizontal.

The 1950 Bowman set also included, for the first-time, cards of non-playing managers like Casey Stengel and Leo Durocher. This trend continues today. This set also included Ted Williams’ first Bowman card. Interestingly, Bowman used the same Williams picture for the 1951 Bowman set as they did for the 1950 Bowman set. The last card in the set is #252 DeMars, which is very difficult to find in great condition.

Friday, October 3, 2008 is Selling High Quality Vintage Cards is selling high quality vintage graded baseball cards.

Check out some of our recent sales:

1959 Topps Hank Aaron All-Star PSA 9 - $8950!!!

1969 Topps Reggie Jackson PSA 9 Rookie card - $4995!!!

1935 Goudey Babe Ruth SGC 60 (5) - $1200!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

1956 Topps Baseball Cards

The 1956 Topps set is an exciting set to collect. Topps purchased rival Bowman after the 1955 season and brought all the Bowman-contracted players to Topps. Thus, the 1956 Topps set contains 340 cards and an incredible 34 Hall of Fame players! Although Stan Musial’s contract with Rawlings prevented his inclusion, many other notable Hall of Famers are included: Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline, Ted Williams, and many more!

The 1956 Topps baseball card set features dual images in a horizontal format. Because Topps possessed only one part-time photographer on its payroll, the company used some of the same player portraits as in the 1955 Topps set. The cards measure 2-5/8” x 3-3/4” and have three-panel cartoons on the back portraying significant moments in the player’s career along with statistics below and biographical information above.

The 1956 Topps Baseball Card Set is the first to include team cards as part of the set and there are two unnumbered checklist cards. Six of the team cards (Cubs, Phillies, Indians, Braves, Reds, and Orioles) were issued with the team names plus dates, or with the team names to the left, with either white or gray backs, or with team names centered with both back colors. Duplicates of team cards were easy to part with via flipping or bike spoke noise enhancers; therefore, given the lesser quantities of each of the varieties, and the fact that the cards were not highly treasured, putting together high grade sets with all the team card variations is a significant challenge.

Both Yankees and Dodgers team cards are also highly valued, selling for several hundred dollars in top grades. A master set contains cards #1-180 either white or gray backed, two unnumbered checklists, 15 additional team varieties (including the white and gray cardboard versions), plus cards #181 to 320. Therefore, there are 537 cards, not counting the print-flawed varieties, that can be collected.

The most popular card in the set is #135 Mickey Mantle. This beautiful version of the Mick represents his Triple Crown MVP season, when he batted .353, slugged 52 homeruns, and drove in 130 RBI. Also, popular from this set are #240 Whitey Ford, the American League E.R.A. leader, #31 Hank Aaron, the National League Batting Champion, #332 Don Larsen, winner of the only Perfect Game in World Series history, and #30 Jackie Robinson, his last card (after the season, Robinson would be traded to the New York Giants. Rather than play for his rival team, Robinson decided to retire).

Other players of note who appeared on the first Topps cards in 1956 were Luis Aparicio, Rookie of the Year, Don Larsen, Don Newcombe, Herb Score, Elston Howard, Lew Burdette, and Frank Torre.

Purchase 1956 Topps Cards Here!

1909-11 T-206 Tobacco White Border Set

The T206 (T-206) set is one of the most cherished among baseball card collectors. Also known as “The Monster” and the “White Border Set,” the T206 set contains 523 cards and over 30 different variations of card backs. The set also contains the “Holy Grail of Baseball Cards,” the T206 Honus Wagner, which recently sold at an auction for $2.8 million! Also included in this fantastic set are Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Tris Speaker, Christy Mathewson, Mordechai “Three Finger” Brown, “Wee” Willie Keeler, Napoleon Lajoie, and more!!

Among these cards are 389 Major Leaguers and 134 Minor Leaguers. Taking into account the possibilities of over 520 different player poses on the fronts, and 16 different advertisement backs, there are thousands of permutations of cards to complete a "set". There are also multiple cards for the same player in different poses, different uniforms, or even with different teams after being traded (since the set was issued over a period of several years). The cards measure 1-7/16" x 2-5/8" which is considered by many collectors to be the standard tobacco card size.

The card fronts feature a color lithograph of a player surrounded by a white border. A few cards were printed in a horizontal format, but almost all of the 523 cards in the set were oriented vertically. Card backs do not contain any statistics; instead, an advertisement appears for the cigarette brand the card was packaged with. The cards were printed on sheets by one factory, and each brand was allowed to place its ad on the backs. Some of the card backs include: Piedmont, Tolstoi, Sweet Caporal, Cycle, Drum, Old Mill, Polar Bear, Sovereign, Hindu, Lenox, Uzit, El Principe, and even a Ty Cobb version. Additionally, some blank-backed cards have been found.

The Honus Wagner card is the most rare of all. It is estimated that between 50 and 200 of the Wagner cards were ever distributed to the public, and fewer still have survived to the present day. Several theories exist as to why the card is so scarce. One theory is that the printing plate used to create Wagner's card broke early in the production process. Another theory is that there was a copyright dispute between the American Tobacco Company and the artist who created the Wagner lithograph which resulted in a reduced production.

The most commonly accepted theory is that the card was pulled from production because Wagner himself objected to the production of the card, but his motivation is unclear. Reports at the time indicated that Wagner did not wish to associate himself with cigarettes, possibly because he did not want to encourage children to smoke. However, some collectors and historians have pointed out that Wagner, a user of chewing tobacco, allowed his image to appear on cigar boxes and other tobacco-related products prior to 1909 and objected to the card simply because he wanted more financial compensation for the use of his image.

Purchase 1909-11 T206 Cards Here!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

1954 Bowman Baseball Cards

At only 224 cards, 1954 Bowman is a unique set. Due to Bowman’s fierce competition with Topps, Bowman established exclusive contracts with Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Roy Campanella, Robin Roberts, and Pee Wee Reese. Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Whitey Ford, and Bob Feller are also found in the set, as well as the rookie card of Yankee favorite, Don Larsen.

However, the one that got away was Ted Williams. After returning from the Korean War, Williams signed an exclusive contract with Topps. As a result of this contract, Bowman was forced to pull card #66 of Williams from its set and replace it with a card of Jimmy Piersall (who was also featured on card #210). This short-printing of the Ted Williams card created one of the most sought-after cards of the hobby's modern era.

As with the 1953 set, 1954 Bowman cards measured 2-1/2 by 3-3/4 inches. The card fronts feature a color photo as in the 1953 sets, but they were accompanied by a small color box at the bottom corner which housed a facsimile autograph of the player. The only other element featured on the front of the card was a white border. On the back, Bowman added a trivia question across the bottom of each card, as had been done with the 1953 Topps set. The answer to the question ran just below the player’s statistics.

Interestingly, Bowman numbered all its 1954 cards based on the player’s team. A rotation was used where every sixteenth card in the set featured a player from the same team. For instance, the Yankees had card 1, 17, 33, 49, etc; the Red Sox were on cards 2, 18, 34, 50, etc. Each team set has fourteen cards.

Due to competition with Topps, the 1954 Bowman set was printed so fast that almost 20% of the cards issued had statistical errors. Bowman later corrected these errors. Thus, there are a large number of variations in the set. In addition to the Ted Williams card, there are several other variations worth noting as well:

  • Cards #33 Vic Raschi and #163 Dave Philley mention that the player was traded, while others do not. To add to the confusion, there is a third Philley card which mentions the trade and also credits him with having played more games the previous year (157 rather than 152).

  • After the 1953 season, the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore, and Bowman's artists had no idea what the Oriole uniforms would look like. So they simply made the uniforms up.

Purchase 1954 Bowman Cards Here!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

1952 Topps Eddie Mathews PSA 4!! WOW!!

Just yesterday, another GREAT deal was completed by for a beautiful 1952 Topps Mathews PSA 4. The final price was $3995.00!!

That is 33% ABOVE the SMR price!!

Click here to see the eBay auction!

Monday, August 4, 2008

World Record Price Paid for "The Card"

World Record Price of $2.8 Million Paid For Famed T206 Honus Wagner Baseball Card

The most famous and valuable trading card in the world is sold for the second time this year through a private transaction conducted by SCP Auctions

Mission Viejo, Calif. (Sept. 6, 2007) – Another Grand Slam for Honus Wagner. The finest known example of the famed T206 Honus Wagner baseball card has found another new home a little more than six months after selling for a then-record shattering price of $2.35 million in February to a California private collector. Renowned sports card and memorabilia auction company SCP Auctions Inc., the firm that handled that transaction and took a minority ownership position in the card, has brokered the latest sale to an anonymous private collector for a record price of $2.8 million.

The legendary T206 Honus Wagner baseball card, previously owned by Wayne Gretzky, and once the top prize in a national contest conducted by Wal-Mart, has long been recognized as the most famous and valuable baseball card in existence. Dubbed “The Holy Grail” or “Mona Lisa” of baseball cards, it has always been a beacon of the red-hot vintage sports collectibles market.

"The T206 Honus Wagner card is an icon, not only in the field of baseball card collecting, but in the larger field of Americana,” said David Kohler, president and CEO of SCP Auctions. “We are privileged to have been involved in the sale of this card, not once but twice.”

The legacy of the T206 Honus Wagner Card dates back to its creation and initial release by the American Tobacco Company in 1909 as part of a series that included more than 500 different baseball player cards. T206 tobacco cards are among the most widely collected, popular and sought after cards among current collectors. To this day however, it is estimated that less than one hundred examples of the T206 Wagner have surfaced. Numerous myths have been perpetuated and debated over the course of the last century, as to the reason for its scarcity. One of the prevailing theories was that Wagner, one of the premier players in the history of baseball, insisted that he be paid by the tobacco company for the use of his image causing the production of his card to be halted. A more common, and well-documented theory is that Wagner simply did not want children to be influenced into buying tobacco products just to get a “picture” of him, and thus forced the early withdrawal of his image on this principle. The volumes that have been written and countless tales that have been spun have made the T206 Wagner card a part of classic American Folklore.

This example, recently sold by SCP Auctions has been graded NM-MT 8 by Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA), the nations foremost third-party card grading service. PSA has authenticated, graded and encapsulated 28 of the known T206 Wagner cards. Of those, only two have earned grades of 4 (VG-EX) or better, three examples earned 3 (VG) status, with the remainder garnering either a 1 or 2 due to substantial wear or significant physical imperfections.

Monday, July 28, 2008

1954 Topps Hank Aaron RC PSA 8 - Record Price Realized

We at have just completed a sale for a beautiful 1954 Topps Aaron RC PSA 8. After all the bids and offers were in, the final price came to $4,950!

That's 130% of SMR!

Check out this scan:

Contact us to consign your collection!

Consignment Opportunities Available!!! is one of the world's best consignment sellers of vintage sports cards and memorabilia.

Our Reputation is well-known throughout the industry for regularly achieving the highest prices for our clientele. We possess PERFECT positive feedback on eBay and have numerous contacts throughout the country. We believe in developing long term relationships where it makes sense for our clients to consign to us on an ongoing basis. We will help you achieve TOP DOLLAR for your collection in an easy, timely fashion.’s auctions realize top prices with rock bottom commissions. has a 100% positive feedback score on eBay (ID: WhereTheyAint-dot-com) and has a fantastic clientele of strong bidders that ensure that you achieve top prices.

Here are some examples of our recent sales:

1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle PSA 8 Rookie

Price Realized: $22,750

136% of SMR Price

1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle PSA 8

1951 Bowman #305 Willie Mays PSA 8 (OC) Rookie

Price Realized: $2,050

122% of SMR (PSA 6 price)

1951 Bowman Willie Mays PSA 8 OC

Given the time spent building and accumulating your collection, serious thought should be given to the best way to sell all or a portion of it. See our website at or contact us at for a free consultation.