As an authorized PSA dealer for the past 3+ years, I have narrowed my focus on high grade pre-1969 baseball/football cards in NM-MT or better. Recently my emphasis has been high grade PSA 8 and PSA 9 vintage 1950s baseball and football cards. Finding these gems has been a real challenge. Especially since everyone is pursuing the same cards.
My last four auctions have contained numerous 1950-1957 commons. The recent trend has been collectors pursuing PSA 8 or better commons and minor stars. These cards in many instances are much more difficult to obtain than the star cards. Maybe the term "commons" (in many cases 1952 baseball high numbers) is a misnomer. Especially when they command $400+. In reality not too many stars in the '60s command these prices. Well anyway, let's get to my top 10 most wanted cards.
1. 1953 Bowman Color Baseball Commons - One glance at the PSA Population Report will indicate this is the toughest post-war set to complete in PSA 8 or better. High numbers in NM-MT are almost nonexistent.
2. 1952 Topps Baseball Commons - This set is the king of post-war sets. All commons in NM-MT or better are coveted by both collectors and dealers. The low series 1-80 is highly desirable and collectors look for both colored backs.
3. 1950 Bowman #22 Jackie Robinson - I have had many requests for this card. It is difficult to find in NM-MT because it falls in the scarce low series 1-72. It has a great action pose and is one of the two key cards in the set.
4. 1955 Topps #2 Ted Williams - This card is extremely popular amongst collectors. Good luck in finding it in NM-MT or better condition. This card along with the other card has superb, rich colors. One of the key cards in the 1955 set.
5. 1952 Bowman #1 Yogi Berra - Just being the #1 card in the set makes it extra challenging to locate in NM-MT. A common practice years ago was to rubberband your prized cards in numerical order. Now add the fact that he's a "Yankee" and Yogi becomes an extremely condition sensitive card.
6. l958 Topps #52 Bob Clemente Yellow Letters - It can be said that any 1958 yellow letter cards in NM-MT are scarce. Well this card is in the rare category. Only two have ever been graded PSA 8 with none higher. This card has great colors and like other Clemente cards, is very collectible.
7. 1951 Bowman #232 Nellie Fox - This is his rookie card. His cards have always been sought after in NM-MT or better. He finally has received his overdue induction into the "HOF." I would highly recommend any of his 19SOs issued cards.
8. 1957 Topps #324 Brooklyn Dodgers Team Card - I have only seen a couple of these cards in NM-MT condition over the last four years. What makes this desirable is that it falls in the scarce mid series and the final years in Brooklyn. To date, none have graded mint, therefore if you see one for sale, don't hesitate too long!
9. 1970 Topps #189 Thurman Munson - One would believe that because it is a recent issue, a lot of mint cards have been graded. Guess again. To date only two are PSA 9. I would say that makes it a rare card to find in mint condition.
10. 1955 Topps #37 Jim Thorpe - The 1955 All American Set is very collectible, unlike some of the early Bowman football sets (i.e. 1952, 1953, etc.) which are cost prohibitive to assemble. I believe this is the most difficult All-American card to find centered and in NM-MT. A solid investment card.
I have seen and experienced first hand a trend over the last three National shows. More dealers are carrying PSA cards and more importantly, collectors are aggressively looking for NM-MT or better pre-1960 baseball and football cards.
I am always seeking out vintage material but finding it is the ultimate challenge. Remember that the Sportcard Market Report (SMR) is a good guide to determining a card's value. However, supply/demand will dictate the final buy/sell price.