Welcome to the 2014 installment of the PSA Set Registry awards! With over 98,000 sets registered at the time of the awards deadline, the task of selecting the special award winners was as challenging as ever. As the registry continues to grow each year and more hobbyists assemble unique, high-quality collections, the voting process gets increasingly difficult. PSA would like to thank all the collectors who have made our registry program the most popular of its kind. In the coming year, we will be unveiling some exciting new features that should make your registry experience even better.
This year was a year of change in the registry. I can't remember a 12-month period when there was more of a shakeup in the standings, especially in the iconic set categories. There were some new collections registered this past year of incredible magnitude and quality, as well as some major movement in the rankings as collectors continued to upgrade their sets. As always, selecting the special award winners was very difficult, but this may have been the toughest year of all as a result of the tremendous registry action. Some unprecedented collecting achievement took place during the past year.
At PSA, we always remember that our company would have never achieved our level of success without all of the loyal set registrants. All of you drive the demand for PSA-certified items. As a result, PSA remains the #1 authentication and grading service in the hobby. Our brand has never been stronger and we appreciate your support more than you know. The PSA staff looks forward to seeing many of you at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland this summer!
At PSA, we continue to look for ways of improving and expanding the registry. Whether you would like to see new features added to the existing program or entirely new categories listed on the site, any feedback you may have of how PSA can improve your collecting experience is appreciated. If you would like to share your comments or concerns with our team, please feel free to email me direct at [email protected].
Joe Orlando, PSA President
The Tull Collection - Best Collection of the Year
Once this collection was registered on the website, there was never any doubt as to which collection would be honored in 2014. What is perhaps most impressive is that only a portion of Thomas Tull’s overall collection can be viewed on the registry. Tull also owns a terrific memorabilia collection that contains some of the finest game-used baseball jerseys, bats, gloves, and autographs in the hobby. The one thing that is consistent about Tull’s collection is quality. Many of his sets and individual items are amongst the finest known of their kind. There is also a heavy concentration on power…the iconic names and collectibles that capture the imagination of us all.
This year, you will notice that several of Tull’s individual sets have been recognized for their stunning registry ranking, with many of them becoming the finest known sets of their kind. These baseball card sets include, but are not limited to, 1909-11 T206, 1933 Goudey, 1941 Play Ball, and 1951 Bowman just to name a few.
For more information on Thomas Tull and his vast collection, please click here.
The Tull Collection - 1909-11 T206 Basic Baseball Set - Best Set of the Year
The T206 baseball card set is, arguably, the most iconic issue ever produced. At a monstrous 524 cards, these beautiful, tiny pieces of artwork have captivated collectors for generations. In fact, in recent years, the set has seemingly grown in popularity. Tull’s set contains every Hall of Famer in PSA NM-MT 8 or better with the exception of the Honus Wagner (PSA VG-EX 4) and Eddie Plank (PSA NM 7) and all of the key rarities. We could sum up why we chose this set as the Best Set of the Year in 2014 with merely one sentence: This is the finest complete T206 baseball set ever assembled on the website with an overall GPA of 7.64. Have a nice day.
The Hill Collection - 1972 Topps Master Baseball Set - Best Rookie Set of the Year
The 1972 Topps baseball set has always stood out as the premier baseball issue of the decade. Colorful and attractive, this gigantic 794-card Master set is even larger than its huge Basic counterpart (787 cards). The key rookie card is that of Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk, but the strength in the set is the wonderful selection of legends, some of which were heading into the tail end of their careers like Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, and Willie Mays. There are special In-Action, Boyhood Photo and World Series cards in addition to a high-number Traded card series. This year’s winner is now the finest set of all-time on the registry, with a GPA of 9.63 at the time of the awards deadline.
The Tull Collection - 1933 Goudey - Best Vintage Pre-War Baseball Set of the Year (Pre-1948)
Recognized as one of The Big Three, the beautiful 1933 Goudey set has long been one of the most popular baseball card sets ever produced. It is also one of the most hotly contested categories on the registry as most key baseball card collectors consider this issue to be essential to any comprehensive collection. Within the 240-card set is an array of stars, including four Babe Ruth cards at the heart of the set. There are also two cards each of several major Hall of Famers like Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, and Mel Ott, not to mention the #106 Napoleon Lajoie card - one of the iconic rarities in the hobby. Tull’s set is, quite simply, the finest ever registered on the site, exhibiting an unrivaled GPA of 8.36.
The Tull Collection - 1951 Bowman - Best Post-War Vintage Baseball Set of the Year (1948-1959)
Once again, a legendary set that has no peer in terms of quality has taken center stage. The colorful 1951 Bowman baseball card set is as important as they come in terms of key rookie cards, aesthetic appeal and popularity. During the 1950s, there were several gorgeous baseball card sets released and many of those sets contained incredibly important rookie cards, but only one set is home to the only true rookie cards of elite Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays…not to mention New York Yankee ace Whitey Ford. On top of having the best set in registry history, with an unthinkable GPA of 9.19, Tull also owns the only PSA Gem Mint 10 Mantle rookie. As great as some of the other sets are within the category, it is hard to imagine this set ever being caught.
Charles M. Merkel - 1969 Topps Basic Set - Best Vintage Baseball Set of the Year
One of the registry’s resident Hall of Fame collectors made his presence known in this category. The large 664-card set follows the 1951 Bowman set with a similar, but different, type of importance. While the 1951 Bowman set offers the launch of the Commerce Comet – Mickey Mantle – the 1969 Topps set closed the book on his storied career. In addition to the final mainstream card of Mantle, the set is filled with all the major stars of the era like Aaron, Banks, Clemente, and Mays. It also features the next generations of stars like second-year issues of Johnny Bench and Nolan Ryan…not to mention a key rookie of Mr. October – Reggie Jackson. This set possesses the best GPA of all-time on the registry at 9.55.
The Hill Collection - 1971 Topps - Best Modern Baseball Set of the Year
When you think about the 1970s, most collectors don’t view Topps sets manufactured from that decade in the same way they might view the sets from the previous two decades in terms of difficulty. That is not the case when it comes to the 1971 Topps baseball card set. Surrounded by easily-chipped black borders, this condition-sensitive issue provides one of the biggest challenges in the hobby for the high-grade collector. This large 752-card set contains several top level Hall of Famers, and those cards often bring huge dollars in the marketplace when offered in PSA Mint 9 condition. The set also contains tough cards of Bert Blyleven (rookie) and Thurman Munson, in addition to an extremely challenging high-number series. All that said, this award winner has a GPA of 8.86 – the highest ever recorded on the registry.
Jeffrey Daich (p6jeff) - 1961-62 Fleer - Best Vintage Basketball Set of the Year
In the world of basketball cards, there are not too many mainstream vintage sets to choose from. As a result, the ones that do exist are targeted in a more focused way by hobbyists. One of those key sets is the 66-card 1961 Fleer basketball set. Filled with key stars, In Action cards and some of the most important rookies in basketball history, this eye-appealing set has always been popular. Inaugural issues of Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson, and Jerry West anchor the striking set. This year’s winner has moved up the ranks with a fury in a very short period of time. With an overall GPA of 8.94, the set currently ranks third on the Current Finest list and is closing the gap quickly.
D'Orsay Bryant, III, M.D. - 1977-78 Topps - Best Modern Basketball Set of the Year
For ten straight years, this set has been ranked #1 within the set category. It holds such a dominant position that we felt it couldn’t be ignored in 2014. This 132-card set features some key cards like the #1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar card and Hall of Fame rookies like Adrian Dantley and Robert Parrish, who was a key component to the strong Boston Celtics teams of the 1980s. Even the last card in the set features popular, yet controversial, dunking machine Daryl Dawkins. This award-winning set possesses a GPA of 9.93 and more than a half-point lead over the second best set on the Current Finest list.
Bill Miller (palacejester) - 1952 Bowman Large - Best Vintage Football Set of the Year (pre-1960)
The 1952 Bowman Large football card set has long been one of the iconic issues in the hobby. Visually stunning, the colorful artwork on these cards has captivated collectors over the years, especially since the cards were produced in a slightly larger format compared to its “small” sister set. There are several very tough cards in the set including a host of short prints, which includes the #1 Norm Van Brocklin card, and the most valuable card of all – the #144 Jim Lansford card – which is notoriously off center and the last card in the set. This year’s winner is one of only two sets on the Current Finest list to exhibit an overall GPA of PSA 8 or better at 8.05.
Michael G. Burton, Sr. (mgb 1966 Philadelphia FB) - 1966 Philadelphia - Best Vintage Football Set of the Year
During the 1960s, there were a variety of football sets issued and by a few different brands. Beyond companies like Topps and Fleer, the Philadelphia Gum Company made a name for itself by issuing some popular sets during the decade. In 1966, the company issued the most desirable of all its sets, one that contains two of the most important rookie cards in the hobby - #31 Dick Butkus and #38 Gale Sayers. In addition to those two key rookies, this 198-card set includes other Hall of Fame rookies like Bob Hayes and Bob Brown as well as several big stars of the era such as Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown. This incredible set is the finest ever assembled on the registry, featuring a tremendous GPA of 8.89.
Kevin Roberson - Elitecards - 1984 Topps - Best Modern Football Set of the Year
During the 1980s, Topps produced several great football card sets but one could argue that the 1984 Topps set might be the best of them all, mainly due to the fact that the set contains two of the most important football rookies of all-time in quarterbacks John Elway and Dan Marino. In addition to those two, there are also several other Hall of Fame rookie cards included, like those of Howie Long and Eric Dickerson. This rather sizable 396-card set enjoys healthy interest from collectors as a result. This year’s winner has an astounding 9.99 GPA – the best all-time on the registry – which means it contains all PSA 10s and a lone PSA 9.
Rich Katz (Movin' On Up) - 1924-25 Champs Cigarettes (C144) - Best Pre-War Vintage Hockey Set of the Year
This 60-card set is not only filled with Hall of Famers like Georges Vezina, Howie Morenz and King Clancy, but it also contains a collector-favorite – a card featuring the fabled Stanley Cup. Beyond the inherent scarcity of the cards, this set is also very tough in high-grade. To illustrate the point…this year’s winner is the only complete set on the registry – ever – and it possess a GPA of 7.25, making it almost a full point and a half higher than the next best set in the category at the time of the awards deadline. The combination of being the first to complete the set and in such terrific condition made this one a standout in 2014.
Rich Katz (Movin' On Up) – 1964-65 Topps - Best Vintage Hockey Set of the Year
During the 1960s, Topps unveiled a “Tall Boy” design that they used for Basketball (1969), Football (1965) and Hockey cards (1964). All of the sets remain popular with collectors due to their eye-catching design but, in terms of difficulty, the 1964 hockey issue has the advantage. This 110-card set contains some tough short prints and checklist cards, a high-number All Star series and a slew of ice legends like Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull. What is frightening about the quality of this year’s winner is that it has a GPA of 8.83 out of a possible 8.85. Needless to say, it is the finest of its kind ever registered on the site.
Rich Katz (Movin' On Up) –1971-72 O-Pee-Chee - Best Modern Hockey Set of the Year
This is one of the most popular categories for hockey collectors. For a hockey card set, this is a relatively large one at 264 cards. Of course, the set contains the usual suspects in Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, and Bobby Orr, but there are also some great Hall of Fame rookies like those of Ken Dryden, Marcel Dionne, and Guy Lafleur. There are also some special All Star, Trophy and Retirement cards in the set. That said, the most elusive card happens to be the #111 Checklist which has also become its most valuable component. This award-winning set boasts a GPA of 9.29, making it the only set on the Current Finest list to reach PSA 9 status overall, and the set is also #1 on the All-Time Finest list.
Brian Smithers - 1927 Churchman Famous Golfers - Best Vintage Miscellaneous Sports Set of the Year
In the history of trading cards, there aren’t too many sets for the modern-era collector to choose from when it comes to golf, but the prewar era is fairly rich with some small but important issues. One could argue that the 1927 Churchman’s Famous Golfers set is about as popular as any other golf issue from the period. This 50-card set contains two cards each of golf megastars Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. It also contains four different cards of Harry Vardon, the highest number of cards devoted to any one golfer in the set. Most of the black-and-white cards are vertical in nature, but a few are horizontal. This year’s winner carries a GPA of 8.43, making it the finest on our all-time list.
Ronald A. Sparschu (RAS) - 1991 Kayo Boxing - Best Modern Miscellaneous Sports Set of the Year
Boxing is a sport that has enjoyed its ups and endured its downs, but there is something timeless about it. Unlike team sports where the athlete can depend on others to assist in getting the job done, boxing requires that you enter the ring and deal with the danger alone. While there are many great vintage boxing sets to choose from, modern trading card issues are few and far between, leaving the collector with little in terms of choice. The 1991 Kayo boxing set is a large one at 252 total cards. The set pays tribute to the legends of the ring like Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, and Muhammad Ali, but it also features a large number of current fighters as well like Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. The set even includes some announcer, referee, trainer and promoter cards as well. For its size, scope, and quality (9.72 GPA), we selected this set for special recognition in 2014.
Rich Katz (Movin' On Up) -Bobby Hull Master Set - Best Vintage Player Set of the Year
Collections devoted to specific players, in any sport, is nothing new in the world of collecting, but it is an area of the registry that continues to grow in popularity. Much of the action takes place in the Basic set categories but, for those looking for the ultimate challenge, the Master sets take center stage. You need every card to finish the set, not just every regular-issue card. This year, we decided to recognize a Master set devoted to hockey legend Bobby Hull. The set contains 80 total cards, from the super important 1958 Topps rookie to his 1964 Topps Tall Boy to his 1966 Topps Test card. There are several tough cards in this player set, including a handful of coins. The fact that this set was the very first one to reach 100% completion in the condition it’s in (7.99 GPA) made it worthy of special recognition in 2014.
Stephen Barr, MD (SMB's) - Walter Payton Master Set - Best Modern Player Set of the Year
Keeping with the theme of challenging Master sets, this year’s modern winner comes from the world of football cards. No one can deny the appeal of Walter Payton collectibles. He was not only a force on the field, but Payton was also well-liked by fans and fellow players alike. Not only was this set the first Payton Master set to reach 100% completion, but it also possessed a GPA of 9.60 at the time of the awards deadline. Everything from Payton’s classic 1976 Topps rookie to his 1977 Topps Mexican card to a variety of obscure discs are required to complete this collection. At 120 cards and growing, this set is the ultimate tribute to Sweetness of the Chicago Bears.
Jason Schlossberg (The Schloss) - 1970 Topps Candy Lids Baseball - Best Topps Specialty Set of the Year During the 1960s and 1970s, Topps created a bunch of test issues that were never released to the public. Luckily for collectors, several of these issues leaked into the hobby. Many of these test issues are considered extremely desirable today and some of them are extremely rare. This is one of those sets. The 1970 Topps Candy Lids are comprised of 24 different players and most of the set is devoted to the major names of the time period, including the likes of Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Reggie Jackson, and Tom Seaver. This set is so tough that there is only one registered on our site. In fact, PSA has only graded 88 total 1970 Topps Candy Lids in our 23-year history. This award-winning set, literally, stands alone but it boasts a GPA of 8.29.
Jeffrey Griffith (GretzkyCards) - Hall of Fame Rookie Players Hockey - Best Overall Specialty Set of the Year
In a year filled with major movement on some of the most iconic sets in the entire hobby, this set was one of the most interesting and impressive collections we encountered. At a whopping 360 total cards and growing, this category requires a rookie card of every hockey player to ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame. You need every rookie from the 1911 C55 Georges Vezina to the 1966 Bobby Orr to the 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky card. The overall GPA of the massive group was 6.41 at the awards deadline, and it remains the only collection to reach 100% completion. There were a lot of creative collections that were considered for this unique award, but this simply vaulted to the top.
Jack “Goochster12” Bednarcik - 1975 Hostess Hand-Cut Master Baseball Set - Best Regional Set of the Year
Back in the 1970s, who can forget seeing packages of Hostess products with baseball card panels placed on the boxes? Kids really didn’t need more of an incentive to eat their tasty treats, but having baseball cards on the boxes certainly didn’t hurt sales for Hostess. A total of 153 different cards are required to complete this Master set, the very first Hostess baseball card product to hit the market. Most of the stars are included like Hank Aaron, Mike Schmidt, and Pete Rose. According to most collectors, the panel that includes Bob Gibson is the toughest in the set due to a factory wrinkle along most boxes. This award-winning set has a strong GPA of 9.67, making it the best one ever registered on the site.
Bill Tiede - Planetice - 1960-61 Shirriff Coins Hockey Set - Best Oddball Set of the Year
This is one of the more interesting categories on the special award list. Over the years, there have been many interesting, and sometimes bizarre, non-traditional collectibles created for the hobby. This year, we decided to recognize the 1960-61 Shirriff hockey coin set. This 120-coin issue features an image of each player affixed to the front of the plastic coins. All six NHL teams are represented in the set with 20 coins per roster. Each colorful coin is numbered and the set includes several big names from the period like Jacques Plante, Jean Beliveau, Gordie Howe, and Bobby Hull. This award-winning set has a substantial lead on the Current Finest list and it carries a GPA of 9.88, the highest of all time on the registry.
Jason Weil (The Weil Collection) – 1951-1989 Topps Wax Packs - Any Series Baseball - Best Unopened Pack Set of the Year
This year, while there were more sets than ever to consider for the special award categories, there were some collections that simply left us no choice but to recognize them above the rest. This was one of those cases. When you think about different potential unopened pack runs and their importance, it is hard to beat this one. As the years have gone on and people have chosen, at their peril, to open more and more vintage packs, the supply has virtually dried up. With a total of 39 different packs, this Topps run requires every pack from 1951-1989 in order to complete the set and this year’s winner was not only complete, but it possessed an extremely strong GPA of 7.93. Just imagine the potential gems that may lurk within the wax.
DJR - 1888 Allen & Ginter Celebrated American Indian Chiefs (N2) - Basic -Best 19th Century Vintage Non-Sports Set of the Year (pre-1900)
This 50-card set, which contains beautiful portraits of various Native American leaders, is one of the most desirable non-sports issues from the 19th century. The cards are visually stunning, exhibiting colorful artwork throughout the historically-important set. The two keys to the set are portraits of Geronimo and Sitting Bull. This is a new awards category in 2014, one that we thought was important enough to add based on the number of important non-sports sets manufactured prior to 1900. This award-winning set is the best of the bunch, carrying a fine GPA of 7.83, which makes it the best set ever registered on the site.
PSUinCT - 1932 U.S. Caramel Presidents - Best Pre-War Vintage Non-Sports Set of the Year (1900-1947)
Most advanced collectors are familiar with the 1932 U.S. Caramel sports set and how difficult it can be to assemble in high-grade. The same is true for its presidential counterpart. Instead of Babe Ruth and Bobby Jones, you have George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The set, which contains 30 total cards, also offers one of the great trading card rarities – the William McKinley card. While this card is not required to complete the set on the registry, this intentionally short-printed card was used to entice kids to buy more product. If someone could complete the set, including the McKinley, they were to receive a 1lb box of chocolate. Today, the McKinley alone would pay for many boxes of chocolate. This year’s winner has a GPA of 7.65 and the set remains #1 on our All-Time Finest list. No other set has ever reach PSA NM 7 or better.
PSUinCT - 1951 Bowman Red Menace - Best Vintage Non-Sports Set of the Year (1948-1959)
This set, like so many sports and non-sports trading card sets, provides a glimpse into the era. Shortly after Communist forces invaded South Korea to start the Korean War, this set was released to the public. It was a set that expressed the fear people had in the potential for “Red” rule and the loss of a democratic society. For all the fear included in the content of the set, the issue is also extremely eye-appealing. The beautiful artwork depicts battle scenes, military figures and even the aftermath of an atomic bomb. While some people dismiss the messaging as pure propaganda, others feel it is an accurate reflection of the feelings shared by a large number of people at the time. This year’s winner has an All-Time Finest GPA of 8.32, making this historically-important set the best of its kind.
Bumchex - 1962 Topps Mars Attacks - Best Vintage Non-Sports Set of the Year
There is simply no doubt that the 55-card, 1962 Topps Mars Attacks set is one of the most important issues in the non-sports world. This eye-catching and sometimes graphic set captures the play-by-play of what it might be like if earth was invaded by hostile aliens. For the most part, it doesn’t look good for us humans. It might not look great for our civilization but trading cards have never looked better. So many memorable movies and television shows have been created over the years, founded on the same basic premise, because such a large number of people are fascinated with the subject. This year’s winner is the finest Mars Attacks set ever registered, boasting a stunning GPA of 8.71 at the time of the awards deadline.
Rick Dalton (the Pawn) - 1976 Topps Star Trek - Best Modern Non-Sports Set of the Year
The hobby and the collectibles within it will sometimes go through incredible hot streaks where the market simply catches fire for a particular item or set. This is the case with the 1976 Topps Star Trek series. In fact, the 1967 Leaf set has also been very strong over the past couple of years. Is it a result of the new Star Trek movies that have brought the franchise to a new level of popularity? Is it a newfound appreciation by longtime fans who are now at a place in their lives where they can spend more time and money on collectibles? One thing is for sure, these cards have been breaking records in recent times and the 88-card set is one of the most popular categories on the registry. Despite such heavy competition, this set has risen to the top of the all-time list, carrying a GPA of 9.63.
Al Glaser (TicketCollector) - BCS National Championship Game (1999-Present) - Master - Best Ticket Set of the Year
There is no doubting the overwhelming popularity of college football. Millions of fans tune in each season to watch the season unfold, whether they are supporting their Alma Mater or just fans of the sport. At the end of each season, it all comes down to the BCS National Championship, the final bowl game of the year. From 1999 to the present, this is when the best of the Division 1 teams is crowned #1 in the country. This terrific set carries a weighted GPA of 13.90, and it also contains every variation graded by PSA since the beginning of the big game in 1999. The Basic set only requires 16 tickets, one from every game to date. This Master Set winner is also the first one to reach 100% completion on the registry.
Steven Ferrell (SF 3000 SO Club) - 3000 Strikeout Club Single Signed Baseballs - Best Single Signed Baseball Set of the Year
In baseball, there is something about the strikeout that fascinates fans. It’s not that the avid baseball fan doesn’t appreciate the art of getting a groundball when a pitcher needs it, but there is something fun about watching a pitcher rear back and bring the heat or deliver a wicked breaking ball that nips the corner of the plate. It often leaves some of the best hitters in the world looking helpless at the plate. Those are the special pitchers that make up this intriguing autograph set, the 16 men who have reached 3,000 strikeouts in their careers. You need a combination of great stuff and longevity to make this exclusive list. From the mastery of Greg Maddux to the sheer power of Walter Johnson, some of baseball’s greatest arms reside here. This year’s winner possesses a GPA of 8.98, leading the pack on the all-time list.
Strokes of the Babe - Babe Ruth Type Set - Best Autograph Set of the Year
In the world of autographs, one name rises to the top…a name that really symbolizes autograph collecting – Babe Ruth. It goes beyond baseball too. Babe Ruth’s autograph is simply the most desirable of all autographs. More than Abraham Lincoln, more than Marilyn Monroe, more than anyone. It is fitting considering the aesthetic beauty of his signature, one of the best-looking autographs in the hobby. This set is, technically, the smallest one receiving special recognition in 2014, but don’t let the tiny number of required items fool you into thinking the set is diminutive in importance. This type set requires six different mediums, all carrying the Sultan of Swat’s prized signature, on everything from a baseball to a check to a trading card, and this year’s winner has an exceptional weighted GPA of 8.70.
Click here to view the sets that were #1 on 5/30/14 5pm EST (2pm PST) with one of the following criteria:
95% complete for vintage sets pre-1970
100% complete for modern sets (1970-present)
1,000 or more cards registered in player and mega sets
To celebrate collectors who have won awards for being number one in their category for at least ten years in a row, we recognize their sets with the 10 Year Anniversary icon. To these collectors, you have our thanks for your loyalty and friendship. We appreciate all you do for the PSA Set Registry. To view a list of these award winning sets, please click here.