PSA Set Registry® 116,027 Registered Sets

Expert Comments:

Welcome to the 2008 installment of the PSA Set Registry awards! With over 36,000 sets registered at the time of the awards deadline, the task of selecting the special award winners was as difficult as ever. As the registry continues to grow each year and more hobbyists assemble fine collections, it will become increasingly difficult. PSA would like to thank all the loyal collectors who continue to support our registry program. It doesn’t matter if your collection is big or small, worth $1,000,000 or $100, every set registrant is important to us and none of this would be possible without you. In addition, a special thanks goes out to trading card expert Greg Bussineau who assisted in the difficult voting process.

Recently, and as many of you know, PSA has upgraded the registry with a host of new features. We appreciate all the kind words from those of you who have experienced this new version. Keep in mind that we are always looking to enhance all of our services, which includes the registry, each and every year. Any suggestions 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].

Happy Collecting!
Joe Orlando, PSA President

Michael Rakosi - Best Collection of the Year
The PSA Set Registry recognizes all types of collections, big or small, high-grade and low-grade. There are those collections, however, that are so spectacular that they rise above the rest and almost take on a life of their own. This is one of those collections. Michael Rakosi’s collection of basketball cards does not impress hobbyists in card count; it is of modest size. What it does is amaze those who view it with its quality. It is, quite simply, the finest basketball card collection on the planet. From 1948 Bowman to 1957 Topps to 1961 Fleer, the Big Three of the basketball card world, no finer grouping exists with ratings of 8.92, 8.27 and 9.34 respectively. Rakosi’s collection is not limited to those three hobby staples either. He owns the finest 1968 Topps Test set amongst others on the registry, all are of phenomenal quality. He is passionate about what he does and we are not sure any one collector represents any one sport better than this man. He is the symbol of basketball card collecting and we are pleased to honor such a fine collection in 2008.

Donald E. Spence - The Lone Star Collection - The Big Three Baseball Mega Set - Best Set of the Year
The Mega Set category is one we feel will continue to rise in popularity in the coming years, but this year, one collector has rose to the top of the most important Mega Set of all. The Big Three represents the three most important baseball card sets in the hobby, 1909-11 T206, 1933 Goudey and 1952 Topps. All three issues contain significant individual cards as well as a host of tough commons. From the T206 Honus Wagner to the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, from the 1933 Goudey Benny Bengough to the 1952 Topps Andy Pafko, these three sets are filled with classic cards and legendary condition rarities. Spence’s Mega Set is 100% complete and ranks nearly two full points higher than the only other complete Mega Set in The Big Three category. This is an extraordinary accomplishment by an extraordinary collector.

Logan R. Ward (The Stock Car Museum) - 1989 Maxx Racing - Best Rookie Set of the Year
Card collecting continues to reach racing fans across America. When you consider how popular the sport of racing is, with increasing coverage on programs such as ESPN and the like, it was inevitable. In this 220-card set, many of the names are recognizable, even to the casual fan. Dale Earnhardt (the most valuable card in the set), Richard Petty and Rusty Wallace are just a few of the names that even a non-fan may be familiar with. This award-winning set is the first of its kind to reach completion and it did so with an impressive GPA of 9.48, earning Rookie Set of the Year honors.


Jim Blumenthal (JimBs E93)- 1910 Standard Caramel (E93) - Best Vintage Pre-War Baseball Set of the Year
Over the past couple of years, early caramel issues have really taken off in popularity. Collectors are drawn to their beautiful artwork and incredible difficulty. While small in size at only 25 cards, don’t be fooled. This set is not only nearly impossible in high-grade but it will also put a sizeable dent in your wallet as the demand for these rarities has skyrocketed in recent times. Nearly half of the set is made up of Hall of Famers, including Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner. This set has an unthinkable GPA of 7.75! Keep in mind that these cards are tough to find in PSA EX 5 and this set nearly averages PSA NM-MT 8.

Larry Robbins (l.r.'s 1957 Vintage Baseball Set)- 1957 Topps (Basic) - Best Post-War Vintage Baseball Set of the Year (1948-1959)
Always considered one of the best looking sets of the 1950s, the 1957 Topps set is one that has enjoyed a lot of fanfare over the years. With key rookie cards like those of Don Drysdale, Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson, coupled with a plethora of stars, this set is very appealing. It even contains some of the earliest combo cards, with Yankee Power Hitters (Mickey Mantle/Yogi Berra) closing out the set. When it comes to condition, the real difficulty with this issue is centering and print defects or “snow” that hampers the background of many 1957 Topps cards. This award-winning set has an amazing GPA near PSA Mint 9 at 8.98! With considerable competition and a host of condition obstacles, this set is bound for Hall of Fame status.

Thomas M. Martin - 1968 Topps (Basic) - Best Vintage Baseball Set of the Year (1960-1971)
The 1968 Topps set is very important and one of the more unique sets of the decade, mostly due to its creative border design. In addition to key rookie cards of Johnny Bench and Nolan Ryan that help anchor the set, a series of All-Star cards and combo cards featuring the likes of Mickey Mantle and Roberto Clemente enhance its appeal. It is also a substantial set, containing nearly 600 cards. This award-winning set finds itself in a category with a ton of competition, making the accomplishment even more impressive. With an unreal GPA near PSA Gem Mint 10 at 9.79, this set stands above the rest and was clearly deserving of recognition.

Brent T. Richards (Brent R's PSA 84 D Basic) - 1984 Donruss (Basic) - Best Modern Baseball Set of the Year (1972-present)
If you were active as a collector during the 1980s, how can you forget this set? No regular issue set was hotter than this one. Containing one of the most important baseball rookie cards of the post-1980 era in Don Mattingly, the beautiful design captivated hobbyists. This was, of course, before technology changed card manufacturing forever, starting with the 1989 Upper Deck baseball issue at the end of the decade. The cards can be fairly tough to find well centered, making this award-winning set so impressive. With a GPA of 9.9 and climbing since the voting took place, the set is just about as good as it could possibly get.


Art Sainsbury (GoodLieus) - 1948 Bowman - Best Vintage Basketball Set of the Year (1971 and older)
In the world of basketball cards, there are not too many sets that rise to the importance of this one. Anchored by the classic George Mikan rookie card, the most significant basketball card in the hobby, this set is a must for any serious basketball card collector. In fact, the cards are much tougher to find in high-grade than their baseball counterparts from the same year. Amazingly, this award-winning set is one of only three active complete sets to achieve a rating of 8.00 or better at 8.16, currently ranking second in the category.

D'Orsay Bryant, III, M.D. - 1986-87 Fleer Sticker - Best Modern Basketball Set of the Year (1972-present)
(Bruce Thibault) Network8687 - 1986-87 Fleer Sticker - Best Modern Basketball Set of the Year (1972-present)
While the 1986 Fleer issue is widely considered the ultimate modern basketball card set, the sticker set from the very same year is extremely collectable as well. It is relatively small in size but not in importance, mostly due to the fact that the issue contains a rookie sticker of Michael Jordan. Each sticker was placed at the back of the pack with 1986 Fleer basketball cards, resulting in serious exposure to wax and packaging damage. This makes the 11-sticker set condition sensitive by modern standards. This year, we decided to honor two active sets, both achieving a perfect set rating of 10.


Jim Ragsdale (Bigjimmi's) - 1950 Topps Felt Backs - Best Vintage Football Set of the Year (pre-1960)
This 100-card set, while obscure to some degree, is one of the more interesting and significant vintage football issues in the hobby. Containing some of the best college football players of the day, this unique issue also contains some future pro football Hall of Famers (Lou Creekmur, Leo Nomellini, Ernie Stautner and Doak Walker). Most importantly, the most valuable card in the entire series (Joe Paterno) is the only card to ever feature the college coaching legend. This award-winning set was the first to reach completion, sporting an overall set rating of 6.41.

GHR Collection- 1962 Topps - Best Vintage Football Set of the Year (1960-1971)
Many hobbyists believe that this issue is the most significant football set of the 1960s and you will get no argument from us. Filled with short prints, key rookie cards and surrounded by fragile black borders, this set poses an extreme challenge to the collector who seeks only high-grade examples. The aforementioned key rookies (Mike Ditka and Fran Tarkenton) are complimented by important star cards of Jim Brown and Johnny Unitas – a super tough #1 card. This award-winning set is, currently, the finest of all-time on the registry, exhibiting an overall set rating of 8.45.

Jim Ragsdale< (Bigjimmi's) - 1977 Topps Mexican - Best Modern Football Set of the Year (1972 to present)
As with the 1950 Topps Felt Backs, we chose to recognize a more obscure yet difficult issue for the modern football card category this year. In 1977, Topps decided to issue their 528-card set in Mexico, with all the text on the front and back of the cards printed in Spanish. These cards are extremely tough to find in any grade compared to their standard US counterparts. In fact, this set is, arguably, the toughest post-1970 football set to complete with several extreme modern rarities within the set. This year’s winner is not only complete but it features a terrific overall set rating of 8.13.


Julius Narancsik (Northern Lights) - 1911-12 C55 (Basic) - Best Pre-War Vintage Hockey Set of the Year
Many hobbyists refer to this series as the T206 set of the hockey card world. While not nearly the size of baseball’s pre-war monster, with only 45 cards in the entire set, the C55’s are comparable in visual appeal and even more difficult to find. Containing several hockey Hall of Famers, the set is anchored by one of the most important, if not the most important, hockey card on the planet – the Georges Vezina rookie card. This award-winning set boasts an overall set rating of 6.78, which leaves it head and shoulders above the competition within the category.

Dave and Lori Nicklas (The Hockey Collection)- 1964-65 Topps - Best Vintage Hockey Set of the Year (1948-1971)
During the 1960s, Topps decided to create cards with a larger design. They issued these Tall Boys for basketball, football and hockey and, while all three sets are popular, the hockey set is clearly the toughest. Issued in much lower numbers than the basketball and football counterparts, this 110-card set offers a serious challenge to the advanced hockey card collector. These cards are often plagued with poor centering and print defects, making high-grade examples elusive. This award-winning set features a tremendous overall set rating of 8.61, making it the finest 1964 Topps hockey set in registry history with a very comfortable lead in the category.

R. Clark - 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee - Best Modern Hockey Set of the Year (1972-present)
Sometimes, one significant card can change the appeal of an entire set and while the 1979 O-Pee-Chee hockey set has a lot to offer, you could argue that the presence of Wayne Gretzky’s most desirable rookie card alone is enough to make the entire issue a must for the serious collector. With a host of condition obstacles such as poor centering and print defects, these rough-cut cards are very difficult to find in true PSA Mint 9 condition despite being a modern issue. This award-winning set has an overall set rating of 8.38 and it is the only active set to reach completion in the category.

Miscellaneous Sports

Ronald A. Sparschu (RAS) - 1951 Topps Ringside Boxing - Best Vintage Miscellaneous Sports Set of the Year (1971 and older)
The 1951 Topps Ringside boxing set is one that is filled with many of the great pugilists of the first half of the 20th Century. Greats like Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson can be found throughout the set with the two most valuable cards being the Rocky Marciano #32 and Bob Murphy #49 short print rarity. Each card in the set is often found off-center, making high-grade examples hard to come by, but somehow, this award-winning set has reached an excellent overall set rating of 8.04, which makes it the first set to reach a rating of 8.00 or better in complete form.

Pat Smith (pls) - 1982 Donruss Golf- Best Modern Miscellaneous Sports Set of the Year (1972-present)
In modern golf collecting, the 1981 Donruss set often steals the headlines. That issue, which is chocked full of Hall of Fame rookie cards, was followed by another Donruss offering the very next year with an identical number of cards needed to complete the set (66). Featuring a nice selection of Hall of Famers and rookie cards in Fred Couples, Mark O’Meara and the like, the 1982 Donruss set has enjoyed very strong competition on the registry. This year’s winning set features an overall set rating of 9.83, making it nearly PSA Gem Mint 10 across the board. With the competition so tight between the leaders in this category, it will be interesting to see if this set can retain its place at the top of the heap in the years to come.

Donald E. Spence- The Lone Star Collection - Willie Mays Basic Set- Best Player Set of the Year
With so much to choose from in this category, choosing a winner is virtually impossible but we don’t think anyone can argue with this selection. One of the beautiful things about collecting Willie Mays cards is the fact that he had such a long career, spanning from the 1951 Bowman rookie card all the way to the 1973 Topps finale. Much like Hank Aaron, Mays can be found in so many key sets throughout his career. In addition to his rookie card, there are so many important Mays cards to choose from, 27 in all. His 1953 Topps card has often been considered a classic while his 1966 Topps #1 card plays leadoff man to a great set. This award-winning set nearly averages a PSA Mint 9 across the board with a superb 8.93 set rating overall.

Don Louchios - 1951 Topps Connie Mack All-Stars Baseball - Best Topps Specialty Set of the Year
Like most other condition-sensitive issues, this commemorative set has picked up in popularity as the years have gone by. More and more collectors are appreciating just how difficult these cards are – in any grade. There are only 11 cards in the entire set but all 11 names are legendary and recognizable. From Lou Gehrig to Honus Wagner to Babe Ruth, some of the greatest players of the first half of the 20th Century are here and they are all virtually impossible in high-grade due to their design. This award-winning set rose to the top of the group with an overall set rating of 6.31, a fine rating considering that most of these cards are almost never seen in any grade above a PSA EX 5.

Jon Isaacson (Fight4oldDC) - All-Time Great Quarterbacks - Best Overall Specialty Set of the Year
Football cards continue to pick up steam in the marketplace and one of the areas to pick up the most has been the All-Time Great categories such as running backs, wide receivers and this one – quarterbacks. Just think of all the key quarterback rookies over decades of football card production. From the 1948 Leaf Sammy Baugh to the 1965 Topps Joe Namath to the 1984 Topps John Elway rookie, all 28 cards needed to complete it are important. The set spans nearly 70 years of card manufacturing and several of the necessary components are tough to locate in top grades. This is part of what makes this award-winning set so remarkable. With an overall set rating of 8.98, it remains well above those in pursuit of its excellence.

Anthony Nex (Griffins) - 1958 Dodgers Bell Brand Baseball - Best Regional Set of the Year
In case you haven’t noticed, Dodger regional sets have gained immensely in popularity the last year or so, with record prices being set in several major auctions. Of all the interesting regional issues to picture the men in blue, perhaps none is more important than this one. The large size and interesting design make this Bell Brand set not only different from the rest, but also tougher in high-grade. Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax and company are all here, on the way from Brooklyn to Los Angeles as the franchise moved to their new home that very same year. This award-winning set features an overall set rating of 7.65 and it has remained in the top spot since the beginning of the registry in 2002.

West Coast - 1960 Armour Coins Baseball - Best Oddball Set of the Year
As they gain in popularity, it is getting harder and harder to call sets like this oddball if so many collectors find them interesting. So, while they may be “odd” in some ways, they are certainly not lacking appeal. Armour Coins made their debut in 1955 but this 23-coin set, mainly due to the inclusion of the Bud Daley rarity, is considered the most valuable of all its productions. While experts are still not sure as to why that particular coin remains so rare, many believe it was either due to faulty molding equipment or a result of a contract dispute. The plastic coins can be found in a variety of colors, with some colors found less frequently than others, resulting in slight premiums. This award-winning set has an overall set rating of 9.78, making it the finest known of its kind.


Kevin Mundelius (Bunky's Best) - 1959 Fleer Three Stooges - Best Vintage Non-Sports Set of the Year (1971 and older)
In terms of sheer popularity, there are not too many non-sports sets that can compete with this one. The antics of Larry, Moe and Curly are captured throughout. The kings of slapstick comedy have never looked better. This 96-card set has one major condition obstacle to contend with – poor centering. In fact, high-grade examples of some of the keys, including the #1 Curly card, have set records in recent times due to their scarcity in top grades. This award-winning set, amidst all the competition, is the first in registry history to reach an overall set rating of 9.00, an amazing feat when you consider the number of collectors pursuing these gems.

Lukes Wackys - 1973 Topps Wacky Packages Series 1- White Back - Best Modern Non-Sports Set of the Year (1972 to present)
Non-sports sets can be a lot of fun and perhaps no other modern non-sports set better exemplifies this than the ever-popular Topps Wacky Packages issues. While it’s true that these Wacky Packages had been previously issued several years before in 1967/68, it was the 1973 set that took the product to another level of popularity. With a new design of peel-and-stick versus the old die-cut punch-and-lick design, this 1st Series enjoyed immense success in comparison to its predecessor. This award-winning set contains 30 hilarious images and features an overall set rating of 8.93, making it the finest collection in the category.


Al Glaser (All-StarTicketCollector)- All-Star Game (1933-Present) - Best Ticket Set of the Year
Tickets continue pick up steam in the hobby as more collectors learn to appreciate just how scarce and important these relics are to the history of each sport. When it comes to the aforementioned rarity, it is hard for most card collectors to fully appreciate how tough some of these tickets are since they were never intended to be collected or kept at all. With a host of interesting themes to collect, this year, we decided to honor the MLB All-Star Game set. From Babe Ruth’s home run in the very first All-Star Game in 1933 to Fernando Valenzuela’s mound wizardry in 1986, there are so many great memories. When you consider the difficulty in finding some of these tickets at all, the 96.15 completion percentage is simply jaw dropping and the set is well deserving of recognition this year.


The Neil B. Downey and Sons Collection- 1989 Perez-Steele Celebration Postcards - Best Autograph Set of the Year
Autograph collectors have always found this set to be a great medium for obtaining Hall of Fame signatures. This colorful postcard issue features the artwork of Dick Perez and each entry was limited to 10,000. In fact, this particular set was only offered in complete set form at the outset, later to be broken down by collectors and dealers. With so many legends included, like those of Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams, it is easy to see why. As autograph grading becomes more and more popular, we expect to see more sets compiled like the one we chose to honor in 2008. With an overall set rating of 9.80, this award-winning set is sure to set the standard for those who wish to follow.

Best of the Registry Certificate Winners of 2008

(#1 set in each category with at least 90% completion, 6/13/08 5:00 PM EST)