1950s Topps

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Brand name printed on the merchandise in the 1950s

Topps joined the sports cards market in the 1950s becoming a rival to Bowman. After competing with each other for five years Topps bought out Bowman in 1956. Competition still remained however, in the form of Parkhurst hockey cards. Topps produced cards of the United States based National Hockey League teams while Parkhurst covered the Canadian teams. Topps had produced multi-sport photo cards prior to 1950, namely the 1948 Topps Magic Photos but each set was very small and not considered a major set.[1] This trend was consistent with their first baseball and college football issues: the 1950 Feltbacks resembled college pennants; 1951 Magic football included a scratch-off game on the reverse; Red/Blue Backs intended to be a card game; Connie Mack/Current All-Stars are foldable stand-ups. It was in 1952 that Topps released their first truly major card set. In the autumn of 1951, Woody Gelman and Sy Berger, then a 28-year-old veteran of World War II, designed the 1952 Topps baseball card set on the kitchen table of Berger's apartment on Alabama Avenue in Brooklyn.[2] The 1957 Topps set featured dimensions of 2½ by 3½ inches which has become known as the standard card size. Below is a list with brief descriptions of Topps trading card products for the 1950s.

Baseball[edit]

Year Set Quantity Size(in.) Distribution1
1951 Blue Backs 52 2 × 2 58 in (5.1 × 6.7 cm) Wax (2), Rack (all)
Red Backs 52 2 × 2 58 in (5.1 × 6.7 cm) Wax (2), Rack (all)
Connie Mack All-Stars 11 2 116 × 5 14 in (5.2 × 13.3 cm) Wax (1), Rack (#)
Current All-Stars 8 2 116 × 5 14 in (5.2 × 13.3 cm) Wax (2), Rack (#)
Team Cards 9 2 116 × 5 14 in (5.2 × 13.3 cm) Wax (2), Rack (#)
1952 Topps 407 2 58 × 3 34 in (6.7 × 9.5 cm) Wax (1,6), Cello(#)
Master set 487 2 58 × 3 34 in (6.7 × 9.5 cm) Wax (1,6), Cello(#)
1953 Topps 274 2 58 × 3 34 in (6.7 × 9.5 cm) Wax (1,6), Cello(#)
1954 Topps 250 2 58 × 3 34 in (6.7 × 9.5 cm) Wax (1,6), Cello(15)
Canadian 50 2 58 × 3 34 in (6.7 × 9.5 cm)
1955 Topps 206 2 58 × 3 34 in (6.7 × 9.5 cm) Wax (1,6), Cello(15)
Double Header 66 2 116 × 4 78 in (5.2 × 12.4 cm) Wax (1)
1956 Topps 340 2 58 × 3 34 in (6.7 × 9.5 cm) Wax (1,6), Cello(15)
Pins 60 1 316 in (3 cm) diameter Box (1)
1957 Topps 407 2.5 × 3.5 in (6.4 × 8.9 cm) Wax (1,6), Cello(12)
1958 Topps 494 2.5 × 3.5 in (6.4 × 8.9 cm) Wax (1,6), Cello(12)
Master set 534 2.5 × 3.5 in (6.4 × 8.9 cm) Wax (1,6), Cello(12)
1959 Topps 572 2.5 × 3.5 in (6.4 × 8.9 cm) Wax (1,6), Cello(12)
Bazooka 23 2 1316 × 4 1516 in (7.1 × 12.5 cm) Box Panel (1)

1 Pack type(card quantity)
# indicates varying quantity

Licensed sets[edit]

Beginning in 1959, Topps began permitting the printing of cards by a printer (Benco) in Venezuela on account of it being a viable baseball market. The most significant difference from the U.S. issue was the card stock quality used for the Venezuelan cards. Two distinctly different card stocks were used (one with gray backs, the other with cream backs), and both were of much lower grade. Cards from this set have a duller finish on the front due to no gloss being applied. Approximately half of the set has a copyright designation which states the card was printed in the US, while the other half state 'Impreso en Venezuela por Benco CA'. The 1959 Venezuelan set features cards 1-198 [3] from their U.S. counterpart. (It has been long believed that the set consisted of only 196 cards, however, it has been found to have been incorrectly documented for years with card #198 having been validated by independent third-party agency PSA as being from the set). Size: 2.5 × 3.5 inches.

Football[edit]

Year Set Quantity Size (in.) Notes
1950 Felt Backs 100 78 × 1 716 in (2.2 × 3.7 cm) College football
1951 Magic 75 2 116 × 2 1516 in (5.2 × 7.5 cm) College football
1955 All-American 100 2 58 × 3 58 in (6.7 × 9.2 cm) College football
1956 Topps 120 2 58 × 3 34 in (6.7 × 9.5 cm) NFL
1957 Topps 154 2.5 × 3.5 in (6.4 × 8.9 cm) NFL
1958 Topps 132 2.5 × 3.5 in (6.4 × 8.9 cm) NFL
Topps CFL 88 2.5 × 3.5 in (6.4 × 8.9 cm) CFL
1959 Topps 176 2.5 × 3.5 in (6.4 × 8.9 cm) NFL
Topps CFL 88 2.5 × 3.5 in (6.4 × 8.9 cm) CFL
Bazooka 18 2 1316 × 4 1516 in (7.1 × 12.5 cm) NFL

Basketball[edit]

Topps' first basketball issue was released for 1957-58. The set has 80 cards of NBA players and was issued in 5-cent packs. Over half the set is rookies with 47. There were also 22 cards in the set that were double printed. The player's name and team appear in the lower portion of the photo in adjacent long and short trapezoid shaped bars respectively. The backs offer biographical player data with year and career statistics. Also on the backs, the card number appears on a backboard style design and a drawing of a player standing in front of a ruler indicates the player's height. After this issue, Topps did not release another basketball set until 1969. Size: 2.5 × 3.5 in.

Ice hockey[edit]

1954-55[edit]

1957–1959[edit]

The players in these sets are from the four U.S. based teams of the NHL. Bilingual backs(English/French) feature previous season statistics, a short player biography and a cartoon question and answer section.

1957-58[edit]

  • Base set 66 cards Size: 2.5 × 3.5 inches

1958-59[edit]

  • Base set 66 cards Size: 2.5 × 3.5 inches

1959-60[edit]

  • Base set 66 cards Size: 2.5 × 3.5 inches

Boxing[edit]

1951 Topps Ringside

Topps' only boxing issue came out in 1951 and was called 'Ringside'. The set featured current and former boxing stars as well as wrestlers. The set totals 96 color cards with biographical information on the back. Some of the cards depicted a championship belt above the athlete's name indicating their weight class and year(s) they held the title.

Multi-sport[edit]

1955 Hocus Focus The second issue of Magic Photos came in 1955. This set included 23 baseball players and a number of other series covering several topical areas. Size: 78 × 1 38 inches

1956 Hocus Focus This set was similar in that it was a series of subsets featuring various sports and non-sport subjects. Among them are aircraft, buildings, world leaders, actors, submarines, automobiles, and famous landmarks. Size: 78 × 1 716 in (2.2 × 3.7 cm)

Non-sport[edit]

The sets listed below cover a variety of subject matter from Television and Movie personalities to Cars and Planes. Topps' offerings for non-sport sets were not limited to cards. A number of the issues were tattoos, stamps, coins and the well known Bazooka Joe and Archie Comics. Set information is listed here by Year, Set Name, Quantity of Cards(#), and the card's Dimensions in inches.

1950[edit]

  • Bring 'Em Back Alive (100) 2116 × 2⅝
  • Hopalong Cassidy (238) 2116 × 2⅝
  • Hoppy Pops Puzzles 8¼ square
  • License Plates (75) 1¾ × 2⅞
  • Rudolph Pops 8¼ square

1950-51[edit]

  • Freedom's War (203) 2116 × 2⅝

1951[edit]

  • Animals of the World (100) 2116 × 2⅝

1952[edit]

  • Look 'N See (135) 2116 × 21516
  • Wings (200) 2⅝ × 3¾

1953[edit]

  • Fighting Marines (96) 2116 × 21516
  • License Plates (75) 1⅞ × 3¾
  • Tarzan & The She Devil (60) 2⅝ × 3¾
  • Tarzan's Savage Fury (60) 2⅝ × 3¾
  • Who-Z-At Star (80) 2⅝ × 3¾

1954[edit]

  • Scoop (156) 2116 × 21516

1955[edit]

  • Funny Foldees (66) 1316 × 1916
  • Rails and Sails (200) 2⅝ × 3¾

1956[edit]

  • Davy Crockett (160) 2⅝ × 3¾
  • Davy Crockett Tatoos 1916 × 3½
  • Elvis Presley (66) 2.5 × 3.5
  • Flags of the World (80) 2⅝ × 3¾
  • Jets (240) 2116 × 21516
  • Round-Up (80) 2⅝ × 3¾
  • U.S. Presidents (36) 2½ × 3¾

1957[edit]

  • Goofy Series Post Cards (60) 2.5 × 3.5
  • Hit Stars (88) 2.5 × 3.5
  • Isolation Booth (88) 2.5 × 3.5
  • Planes (120) 2.5 × 3.5
  • Robin Hood (60) 2.5 × 3.5
  • Space Cards/Target: Moon (88) 2.5 × 3.5

1958[edit]

  • T.V. Westerns (71) 2.5 × 3.5
  • Zorro (88) 2.5 × 3.5

1959[edit]

  • The Fabulous Fabian (55) 2.5 × 3.5
  • Funny Valentines (66) 2.5 × 3.5
  • Wacky Plaks (88) 2½ × 4⅝
  • Woody Woodpecker Tatoos 1916 × 3½
  • Funny Monsters (66) 2.5 × 3.5

Multi Year Issues[edit]

  • Freedom's War (203) 2116 × 2⅝ (1950–1951)
  • World On Wheels (180) 2⅝ × 3¾ (1953–1955)
  • Archie Comics (~30) 2¾ × 3⅝ (1957–1958)
  • Popeye Tatoos 1916 × 3½ (1958–1959)
  • Famous American Heroes (18) 7/8 × 1⅜
  • Bazooka Joe

Recommended Reading[edit]

  • Slocum, Frank (1994). "Baseball cards of the fifties: the complete Topps cards, 1950–1959". Simon & Schuster-New York ISBN 0-671-89224-X
  • Bloom, John (1997). "A house of cards: baseball card collecting and popular culture". University of Minnesota Press-Minneapolis, Minnesota ISBN 0-8166-2870-X

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Battle for Football Card Supremacy Begins: A Look at the 1950 Bowman Football Set - PSA Library". Psacard.com. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  2. ^ Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession, p. 90, Dave Jamieson, 2010, Atlantic Monthly Press, imprint of Grove/Atlantic Inc., New York, NY, ISBN 978-0-8021-1939-1
  3. ^ 1959 Venezuela Topps Jim Davenport #198 image

Sources[edit]

  • Beckett, Dr. James et al. (2002). "Beckett Baseball Card Price Guide". Beckett Publications-Dallas, Texas ISBN 1-930692-17-X
  • Churilla, Jim (2007-08-29). "The Battle for Football Card Supremacy Begins". Archived from the original on 19 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  • Lemke, Robert F. (2006). "Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards". KP ; Newton Abbot-Iola, Wisconsin ISBN 0-89689-372-3
  • Beckett, Dr. James et al. (2005). "Beckett Football Card Price Guide". Beckett Publications-Dallas, Texas ISBN 1-930692-41-2
  • "Tuff Stuff 2005 Standard Catalog of Football Cards". Krause Publications-Iola, Wisconsin ISBN 0-87349-866-6
  • Beckett, Dr. James et al. (2004). "Beckett Basketball Card Price Guide". Beckett Publications-Dallas, Texas ISBN 1-930692-37-4
  • "Tuff Stuff 2003 Standard Catalog of Basketball Cards". Krause Publications-Iola, Wisconsin ISBN 0-87349-474-1
  • Benjamin, Christopher et al. (1991). "The Sport Americana price guide to the non-sports cards 1930–1960". Edgewater Book Co.-Cleveland, Ohio ISBN 0-937424-53-6
  • Murphy, Mark (2002). "Unopened Pack, Wrapper & Display Box Guide". Mark Murphy-Stamford, Connecticut
  • Beckett, James (2004). "Beckett hockey card price guide & alphabetical checklist". Beckett Publications-Dallas, Texas ISBN 1-930692-36-6