Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Throwback Sets: 1954 Topps #1-250 + #251-268

I typically work on completing Topps sets individually in reverse consecutive order.  Having completed a majority of the 1972 set (over 93%), I continue to struggle to find additional high-number cards for a decent price, so I decided to work on the 1971 set (over 85%), and then the 1970 set (over 78%).  I finally got tired of giving in to paying high dollar for overpriced common cards in the early 1970's card sets, so I started looking for deals elsewhere.  A few years ago, I purchased a 1953 Topps reprint set (1991 Topps Archives) for about $15 with the intention of someday delving even deeper into those early 50's cards--Apparently, that time is now.

I found a 1954 Topps reprint set (1994 Topps Archives) for about $60, and finally gave in.  As with all of my other sets, these were organized into teams with the World Series champions showing first (N.Y. Giants), then the W.S. losers second (Cleveland Indians), and then all of the other teams organized by their overall winning percentage (Yankees, White Sox, Dodger, etc.).  Each team is then further organized by player age--with the oldest person first and the youngest last.  The set was inserted into 8-pocket pages, so that replacement of the reprints with originals in the future would be simple.  For me, starting with a complete reprint set helps to: remove the fear of starting a collection that you may not ever be able to completely finish, as well as reduce the tendency to overpay for individual cards while collecting in a hurry.  I've found it possible to collect early 50's Topps cards for under 10% BV.  Since these cards are much older than I am, condition is not really a major factor.  

The original 1954 Topps set included 250 cards numbered from #1 to #250.  An important note about this reprint set is that it does not include two cards: #1 and #250 (both Ted Williams cards).  In 1994, Upperdeck actually reproduced the two T.Williams cards (#1 and #250) in addition to an additional "Card that Never was" featuring Mickey Mantle #259.  The three Upperdeck cards (#1,#250,#259) belong with the '54 reprint set as far as I'm concerned although the asking price can often be about as much as it would cost to buy a low-grade original.  I found an original 1954 Topps card #1 ($800 BV) for under $38 and chose to purchase that instead of a reprint.  As of this post, I'm still working on obtaining an original #250 T.Williams for under $50 and a fake #259 M.Mantle for around $10.

An interesting note is that the 1954 Topps reprint set includes an additional 8 cards numbered from #251-#258 featuring players that probably should have had a card issued in 1954 but didn't.  These additional cards have realistic photos of how old the players may have looked in 1954 with card backs replicating the original '54 cards.  The 8 additional cards that are included with the reprint set are: #251 R.Clemente XRC, #252 B.Grim, #253 E.Howard XRC, #254 H.Killebrew XRC, #255 C.Pascual XRC, #256 H.Score XRC, #257 B.Virdon XRC, and #258 D.Zimmer XRC.

In 1995, Topps produced another Topps Archives set to commemorate the '52-'56 Brooklyn Dodgers.  This 165-card set included 7 more "Cards That Never Were" fake reprints that I would consider to also be a part of the 1954 Topps reprint set.  The 7 additional cards are: #260 R.Campanella, #261 B.Cox, #262 C.Erskine, #263 C.Furillo, #266 D.Newcombe, #267 P.W.Reese, #268 G.Shuba.  I don't know what happened to #264 and #265, but would be interested to hear more about it if anyone else knows.  These additional 7 cards may be difficult to find as a stand-alone group because all of the '54 Topps Dodger reprints were reproduced alongside these in 1995.  Sellers typically sell the complete team set, which would result in duplication. 

Of course, I have to at least try and make a connection to the '87 Topps set.  The only person from the '54 Topps reprint set that still had a card when I first started in 1987 was Tommy Lasorda.  Although two other 1987 managers (Gene Mauch and Dick Williams) actually had cards pre-dating the '54 set, Lasorda was the only one with a card in 1954.

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