Welcome to the 2010 installment of the PSA Set Registry awards! With over 56,000 sets registered at the time of the awards deadline, the task of selecting the special award winners was tougher than 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 dominant of its kind.
The registry is more diverse than ever and we will continue to expand the program. This year, we added a few new awards categories so we could recognize more great sets! PSA would have never achieved the level of its success without all of our loyal set registrants. Our staff looks forward to seeing many of you at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore, MD this summer! In addition, special thanks goes out to trading card expert Greg Bussineau who assisted in the difficult voting process.
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
D'Orsay Bryant, III, M.D. - Best Collection of the Year
The absolute best part of being involved in this hobby is interacting with the wonderful people who are in it. D’Orsay Bryant is one of those people. In addition to being one of the most personable individuals you could ever meet, D’Orsay has an incredible collection. Containing thousands of PSA graded basketball cards, from vintage to modern, it is clear he is a fan of hardwood history. From his 1969 and 1970 Topps Tall Boy set, which both average better than a PSA Mint 9 throughout, to his hoard of Gem Mint 10 examples from the post-1980-present era (including a perfect PSA 10 set of 1986 Fleer cards), D’Orsay’s quality is consistent from start to finish.
What makes D’Orsay’s collection somewhat unique is the fact that he continues his pursuit of top basketball cards from the players of today, not limiting himself to just the legends of the past. So many collectors focus on only one period of time or one era of trading card manufacturing, either vintage or modern, but a small percentage are active in both. D’Orsay’s sets represent five decades, from the 1960s to the 2000s, and we hope to see him continue to build upon his stellar collection well into the future.
Donald E. Spence - The Lone Star Collection - 1909-11 T206 White Border Basic Set Baseball - Best Set of the Year
As we find ourselves right in the middle of the 100-year anniversary of this iconic issue, it is fitting that this 524-card set receives proper recognition. This set, while not technically ranked number one in the category, is the first set in PSA Set Registry history to reach 100% completion in an average grade of PSA NM 7 or better (7.17). The reason this is so noteworthy is due to the fact that there are some monster rarities in this set, including but not limited to the Doyle, Plank and Wagner cards. Each of these three scarce cards can reach $100,000 or more in the right grade, making it very tough to complete and hard to maintain in such a high GPA.
Michael Wachs - 1911 T205 Gold Border Master Set Baseball - Best Rookie Set of the Year
Like the classic T206 baseball set, this 221-card hobby classic has a special place in the hearts of many collectors for its fantastic design, tremendous star selection, tough variations and an element of condition rarity that presents the ultimate challenge. Those pesky gold borders are so fragile in nature, but when the cards are relatively unscathed, they can be amongst the best looking of the era. Led by key cards of Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Cy Young and even more notable Hall of Famers, this set is not for the faint of heart. With a GPA of over PSA NM 7 (7.02), this set ranks as one of the best all-time on the registry.
Donald E. Spence - The Lone Star Collection - 1914 Cracker Jack - Best Vintage Pre-War Baseball Set of the Year
Here is another example of a set that does not rank first in the category per se but it has reached a milestone worthy of serious recognition. Like the T206 set recognized earlier, this is the highest ranking complete set (144 cards) in this particular category of all-time on the registry, showcasing a GPA of 5.19. Collectors familiar with this issue are well aware of its difficulty. For those who are not, it is infinitely more difficult than the 1915 Cracker Jack set and it is anchored by one of the great rarities in all of collecting – the Christy Mathewson #88 – a pitching pose of the Hall of Famer not found in the 1915 issue.
Charles M. Merkel - 1950 Bowman - Best Post-War Vintage Baseball Set of the Year (1948-1959)
Many of the 1940s and 1950s Bowman baseball issues are overshadowed by the 1951 and 1953 sets because of their enormous popularity, which is a result of awesome rookie selection (1951) and exceptional photography (1953). While the 1949 set was the first Bowman issue to utilize color in the design, most collectors feel that the full-color artwork used in 1950 was the real “game-changer” for the manufacturer. Containing great cards of Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, Bob Feller and the like, the artwork found in this 252-card issue is certainly amongst the best of all-time. This particular set boasts an unparalleled GPA of 8.89, making it the finest group ever registered in the PSA program.
Henri Nuber - 1964 Topps Basic Set - Best Vintage Baseball Set of the Year
When we start getting into this era of baseball cards, there are so many wonderful sets deserving of recognition. This year, we decided to recognize the best 1964 Topps set on the registry. In one of the more hotly-contested categories, this set rose to the top with a stunning GPA of 9.18. This is one of only three sets to have reached an overall rating of PSA Mint 9 or better in registry history. The 587-card set contains many popular star cards of players like Mickey Mantle, Pete Rose, Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax. It also contains a HOF rookie in 300-game winner Phil Niekro but what is perhaps most intriguing about the set is the inclusion of multi-player cards like A.L. Bombers with Mantle or Tops in the NL with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.
Hatch Graham - 1978 Topps - Best Modern Baseball Set of the Year
The 1978 Topps baseball set is simply monstrous. At 726 total cards, it takes a great deal of patience to assemble this set one by one in ultra high-grade. Anchored by the Eddie Murray rookie and other great rookies like Lou Whitaker, Jack Morris and a combo rookie of Paul Molitor and Alan Trammell, this set is very popular with collectors. It also contains many great cards of the top players of the decade like Johnny Bench, Reggie Jackson and Mike Schmidt to name a few. Centering problems and print defects plague this set, making the GPA of this year’s winner remarkable at 9.92. That’s correct…almost every card in the over 700-card set is a PSA Gem Mint 10.
Donald E. Spence - The Lone Star Collection - 1961-62 Fleer - Best Vintage Basketball Set of the Year
In the world of vintage basketball cards, almost every set becomes extra significant since there are so few sets from which to choose. That is certainly the case with the 1961 Fleer basketball set but collectors love this set for so many reasons. From the bright design to the incredible assortment of stars to the cool In-Action cards, this set is a true hobby staple. In addition to top HOF rookies like those of Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West, this set is home to one of the most important basketball rookies of all-time – Wilt Chamberlain. Like Babe Ruth, Chamberlain amassed single-season numbers that we may never see again in the sport. This particular set is currently ranked second on the active list with a GPA of 8.89, just a shade below an average of Mint across the board.
McGee Collection - 1988 Kenner Starting Lineup - Best Modern Basketball Set of the Year
Many of the readers can remember the hobby explosion during the 1980s and how it changed the industry forever. At that time, Fleer had very little competition in basketball cards but there were others who came onto the scene and tried their hand at card manufacturing. One of those companies was Kenner. Who can forget those plastic figurines that became so popular in the late-1980s? If you remember, those figurines came with a trading card. In 1988, there were 85 different cards made and the set will always have a special place in hobby history. In most sets, the star cards are the ones that carry the most weight but some of the tougher cards to find here are the likes of Sam Perkins, Mark Eaton and Thurl Bailey due to varying production numbers. This is the finest complete set on the registry, with a GPA of 8.21.
Baltimore Colts are World Champions!!! - 1958 Topps - Best Vintage Football Set of the Year (pre-1960)
The 1950s was a great decade for football cards and this set, while not quite as popular as classic issues like the 1952 Bowman Large or 1957 Topps, is no exception. Home to one of the most important cards in all of sports collecting – the Jim Brown rookie – this 133-card set has always been popular. The cards are also subject to condition obstacles like print defects and poor registration. In addition to the Brown rookie, the set also includes a HOF rookie of Sonny Jurgenson and a very important second year card of Johnny Unitas. With a GPA of 8.54, this is the finest complete set ever registered with PSA and deserving of recognition in 2010.
Gould Collection - 1961 Topps - Best Vintage Football Set of the Year
During the 1960s, Topps produced many memorable football sets like the 1962, 1963 and 1965 Topps Tall Boy issues. Not to be overlooked is the 1961 Topps set. While the set does contain a few key HOF rookies in Hank Jordan, Don Maynard and Jim Otto, it is absent a card of supreme importance so it tends to be overshadowed by other major football sets from the period. That said; this 198-card set was one of the largest football issues of the era, along with key cards of Jim Brown and Johnny Unitas – the very first card in the set. This particular set is the first and only complete 1961 Topps football example to reach a GPA of PSA Mint 9 or better (9.03) in registry history.
Dave Seibert (Travelingvaz) - 1970 Kelloggs - Best Modern Football Set of the Year
Kelloggs, the popular cereal maker, produced a string of trading card sets during the 1970s after a multi-decade hiatus and it all started with this 60-card set. Within the set are cards of players like Johnny Unitas, Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus. The set even has a rookie issue of controversial figure O.J. Simpson. Along with all the great players is, of course, the 3D design that made these cards so popular then and now as evidenced by the fierce competition in the category. This particular set is as good as it could ever get. With a perfect GPA of 10, this complete set is the first one ever to achieve such status and certainly worthy of special recognition in 2010.
Simon Bourque (Simgin) - 1924-25 V145-2 - Best Pre-War Vintage Hockey Set of the Year
When it comes to sheer difficulty and condition rarity, you would have a hard time finding a genre that can compete with pre-war hockey cards. This 60-card set is no exception. While the design is somewhat plain on both the front and back of the cards, they are almost impossible to find in mid-to-high grade. The extremely thin paper stock makes the cards very susceptible to paper wrinkles and creasing. Some of the key cards feature legends like Georges Vezina, Howie Morenz and King Clancy but all of the cards are tough. The year’s winner has the only complete set on the registry, a set that has a GPA of 5.56 – nearly a full point higher than the closest competitor in the category.
Greg Zwick (Mr. Parkies) - 1955-56 Parkhurst - Best Vintage Hockey Set of the Year
Parkhurst hockey cards from the 1950s are all extremely popular amongst collectors and they are, for the most part, equally as tough for a host of reasons. In 1955, Parkhurst took the difficulty to the next level by including a colored border along the bottom edge, an edge that reveals wear with the slightest touch. The set has many key cards of Hall of Famers like those of Maurice Richard, a tough #1 card of Harry Lumley and the anchor of the set – the Jacques Plante rookie. The 79-card set also includes a run of special cards to finish the set showcasing players in action and cards that pay tribute to specific hockey venues. This year’s winner has a very impressive 7.83 GPA in this highly-competitive category.
William M. Baran - 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee Basic Set- Best Modern Hockey Set of the Year
The 1970s really belonged to O-Pee-Chee when it came to hockey cards. Topps was also putting out some terrific sets but the Canadian versions were simply more popular due to the powerful fan base up north. The cards are also tougher due to the rough-cuts and other condition obstacles associated with O-Pee-Chee manufacturing. This set is one of the larger productions of the era, with 340 cards needed to complete it. While not loaded with HOF rookies, the set does include All-Star, In-Action and League Leader cards throughout. Card #129, Bobby Orr, is the most valuable card in the set. This year’s winner has a very impressive GPA of 8.68, giving it a large lead over the second place set on the Current Finest list.
Frank Foremny (franks t9 set) - 1911 Turkey Red Boxing (T9) - Best Vintage Miscellaneous Sports Set of the Year
As hobbyists, we often talk about cards that possess exceptional eye-appeal due to their design or possibly the artwork used within a particular set. That said, most cards that fit that description are standard-sized issues or smaller like the T206s in baseball. Other times, cards combine all those attributes in addition to a much larger format, which really gives them a striking appearance. That is the case with the T9 Boxing cards. While the total number of cards needed to complete the set is small (26) the cards themselves are enormous. At 5 ¾” by 8” these brown bordered relics help bring the boxers of the past, like James Jeffries and Jack Johnson, to life. This year’s winner has a GPA of 5.74, the finest of all-time on the registry.
Logan R. Ward (The Stock Car Museum) - 1991 Pro Set Racing Basic Set - Best Modern Miscellanous Sports Set of the Year
Collecting racing cards has slowly gained in popularity in the last few years and it has been due, in large part, to collectors like Logan Ward who have taken it upon themselves to be a leader in a particular category. Sharing areas of interest with other collectors can help expand the market and that is good for all involved. This set, which contains 148 cards, features not only the drivers who race to the finish line but it also features several of the cars they drive. It also includes a few errors cards that were corrected at a later date, providing some variations in the set. This year’s winner has a tremendous GPA of 9.56, leaving it with no peer.
Sandy Koufax Collection - Sandy Koufax Master Set - Best Vintage Player Set of the Year
Player sets continue to gain in popularity on the registry and Sandy Koufax is certainly one of the most popular players to ever step on the baseball field. What is so impressive about this year’s winner is that there are many very tough Koufax cards despite the fact that he had such a short career. In addition to all the mainstream classics like his 1955 Topps rookie, 1957 Topps high-number and 1963 Fleer cards, you have to acquire all the tough regional issues like Bell Brand and Morrell Meats in addition to several very scarce Venezuelan Topps cards from the 1960s to name a few. This set, at 124 cards, is much greater in size than the Basic Koufax set, which only has 13. Considering the difficulty of some of these cards, with a GPA of 7.40, it was easy to select this set as the 2010 winner.
Roland L. Bracken (The Bracken Collection) - Nolan Ryan Master Set - Best Modern Player Set of the Year
Nolan Ryan pitched for an amazing 27 seasons for the New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. What is even more amazing is the fact that he still threw in the mid-90s while in his mid-40s, amassing a number of records along the way that may never be surpassed like 5,714 strikeouts. Did you hear that Strasburg fans? From 1968 to 1993, Ryan thrilled fans with his dazzling stuff. As a result, there are an absolute ton of Ryan cards to collect. In the Master Set, there are a total of 1,997 cards. That’s right, nearly 2,000 different Ryan cards starting with his classic 1968 Topps rookie. This set is 100% complete and has a GPA of 9.11. Need we say more?
Michael D. Rolnik (Mike's Comics) - 1973 Topps Comics Baseball - Best Topps Specialty Set of the Year
Over the years, Topps produced so many specialty sets to compliment their dominant base issues. Topps gave us things like coins, tattoos, stickers and scratch-offs to keep collectors doing what they do best – collect. Now, some of these were actually released to the public and others were of the Test variety, never quite making it to mass production and distribution. That made them even more desirable. During the 1960s, Topps seemed to kick that plan into overdrive and that continued into the 1970s. One of the unique issues Topps produced was the 1973 Topps Comics Test set. Containing a host of Hall of Famers like Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench and Nolan Ryan, this 24-piece set has a lot of star power within. As a result of the star selection and scarcity of the issue, these comics are pricey. The Ryan alone sells for thousands of dollars in virtually any condition. This year’s winner is the only complete set in registry history and it carries a terrific GPA of 8.60.
Colin’s NHL Top 50 Rookies - All-Time NHL Top 50 Rookies - Best Overall Specialty Set of the Year
This award allows PSA to reward greatness along with collector creativity, resulting in a diverse selection of sets from which to choose. This year, we chose to recognize a set devoted to the greatest hockey rookie cards of all-time. Once again, it is important to note that hockey cards are generally tougher than cards from most of the other major sports, making this set very impressive. Why? When you consider some of the incredibly tough cards that are required in this set, it makes the GPA of 7.33 pretty amazing. The pre-war cards alone are almost never seen in mid-grade, let alone high-grade. From the C55 Georges Vezina to the 1958 Topps Bobby Hull to the 1966 Topps Bobby Orr, it seems as if the vast majority of the cards required here are condition rarities.
Steve Eberhardt (seinbigd) - 1961-1963 Post Cereal Mega Set Baseball - Best Regional Set of the Year
This was one of the more impressive sets to be recognized this year. First of all, the Mega Set category is not for the faint of heart since it takes a combination of sets, usually several in number, to complete the entire run. In this case, some of the Post Cereal baseball cards can be tough because a good portion of them were cut too small by collectors. This limits the cards to receiving a designation of “authentic” based on the PSA grading standards. These cards were distributed in different ways. Some, for example, were included on cereal boxes and had to be removed while others could be obtained via a mail-in offer. In any event, the excellent GPA of 8.23 on this 777-card run makes this set clearly worthy of this award.
Dylan Lane (The Empire State Collection) - 1910-12 Sweet Caporal Pins P2 Baseball - Best Oddball Set of the Year
There are many issues throughout hobby history that are, arguably, undervalued and this is one of them. Starting in 1910, the American Tobacco Company decided to add pins as one of their premium offerings. While there are only 152 different players featured in this set, there are 204 total pins to collect due to the small and large letter variations. Many of the big names are here, including Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Tris Speaker and Cy Young. The pins, though very collectible, can be acquired for a fraction of the cost of many card issues from the period. This makes the future seem bright for these 100-year old collectibles and this set, with its GPA of 7.30, edged out the second place finisher by the narrowest of margins to capture the award in 2010.
Paul Fleetwood – 1960-1969 Topps Wax Packs Baseball - Best Unopened Pack Set of the Year
Unopened pack collecting can be one of the most challenging areas in the hobby due to the relative scarcity of the items. In fact, over time, the number of unopened packs continues to dwindle as curious collectors give in to their urge to see what’s inside, despite the risks involved. This year, we decided to recognize this fine run of unopened packs from the world of baseball. In most cases, unless unopened material is discovered as part of a hobby find, these packs are very hard to find. Just ask yourself…when was the last time you saw an unopened pack of 1961 or 1966 Topps baseball cards? In addition, finding vintage packs with a grade of PSA NM 7 or better makes it even tougher. This set possesses a fantastic GPA of 7.26.
Marty Quinn (Mighty's Graded Sets) - 1940 Gum Inc. Lone Ranger - Best Pre-War Vintage Non-Sports Set of the Year
The growth of the non-sports category continues to make headlines in the world of graded cards, and with the amazing range of sets that fall into the entire category, one could argue that there is no set more beautiful than the 1940 Gum Inc. Lone Ranger issue. The Lone Ranger, along with his pal Tonto and horse Silver - the core characters - are captured in a variety of scenes with the help of truly spectacular artwork. It’s the type of set that is so visually stunning that some people decide to collect it without knowing or caring about the actual subject matter. This 48-card set remains one of the most important trading card sets of all-time and this year’s winner, with a GPA of 7.56, is the finest in registry history.
Ronnie Paloger (Bombaye) - 1951 Bowman Jets, Rockets, Spacemen - Best Vintage Non-Sports Set of the Year (1948-1959)
The 1950s were a great time for non-sports trading cards as the subject matter seemed to get more and more diverse. From political themes to music to fantasy, the sets just kept on coming and collectors responded. This 108-card set preceded the famous 1962 Topps Mars Attacks set by over a decade, making it one of the true pioneers of the sci-fi genre. All sorts of creatures appear here along with spaceships and men who travel the galaxy. The use of color in the artwork helped bring these characters to life and the kids across the country went into a craze for the cards. This year’s winner boasts a GPA of 8.13 in this hotly-contested category, becoming the first set in registry history to achieve an average grade of PSA NM-MT 8 or better.
Philip Allison (PJA) - 1965 Topps King Kong - Best Vintage Non-Sports Set of the Year
The story of King Kong has been a part of our culture for decades. Kong was first captured on the silver screen in 1933, wowing moviegoers with groundbreaking special effects. A few years ago, Kong was again brought to life by director Peter Jackson with incredible technology. Behind all the action and effects is a powerful story, a story that is more a commentary on human nature than it is about giant apes fighting dinosaurs. In 1965, Topps produced a Test set that captured scenes from the original 1930s blockbuster. From his capture to his battles with men and beasts to his ultimate demise, Kong is shown in a variety of scenes from the black and white picture. This very scarce and important set has a GPA of 9.05, making it the finest in registry history by a good margin.
Tom Stamatis (DonTom)- 1985 Garbage Pail Kids Series 1 Master Set - Best Modern Non-Sports Set of the Year
There have been many crazes in the collectibles world over the years but few compare to the phenomenon of Garbage Pail Kids in the 1980s. These cards were designed as a parody of the popular Cabbage Patch Kid dolls that were selling like hotcakes across the country at the time. This 88-card set, the very first series of many to come, contains cartoons that are a bit crude and sometimes politically incorrect but kids went crazy for them. It is hard to imagine Topps releasing cards entitled Drunk Ken or Fat Matt today but it was all in good fun. The card that remains the poster child for the issue is Adam Bomb, a young boy with an exploding head. This year’s winner has a perfect GPA of 10, making it the first of its kind to reach such lofty heights.
Jay R. Radke (The Radke Collection) - Brett Favre Game Starts - Best Ticket Set of the Year
Each year, we make it a general rule to select only complete sets for the special awards. There are very rare exceptions and, this year, here is another example of a set that deserves special recognition despite not being 100% complete. In the world of football, Brett Favre is not only an all-time great quarterback with phenomenal numbers like 497 touchdowns and 69,329 yards passing; he is the Iron Man of the sport. With 285 consecutive starts in the regular season, Favre is in a class by himself. This very creative ticket collection is a tribute to the career of Favre, a set that requires a ticket from every start of Favre’s career. This year’s winner has 97.54% of the set completed, a tall task as many of the tickets used for these games were discarded over the years.
Tony Garcia III - 3000 Strikeout Club Autographed Baseballs - Best Single Signed Baseball Set of the Year
There are several exclusive clubs in baseball and each of them require reaching a certain milestone to gain entry. You often need a combination of stellar performance and longevity to get there. The club may require a minimum of 500 home runs, 300 wins, 3,000 hits or, in this case, 3,000 strikeouts. In order to reach this milestone, the pitcher must have great stuff, which made watching any of its members fun to watch when they were on the mound baffling hitters. The toughest single signed baseball in the group is Walter Johnson, the legendary right-handed power pitcher. From Bob Gibson to Nolan Ryan to Randy Johnson, these were the men who hitters feared throughout the league. This year’s winner has a GPA of 8.71 and is the first of its kind to reach 100% completion on the registry.
Logan R. Ward (The Stock Car Museum) - All-Time Top NASCAR Drivers (Any Medium) - Best Autograph Set of the Year
As he has done in the world of trading cards, this collector has quickly become a leader of this genre in the autograph and memorabilia world. This set, which contains 54 different autographs, is a tribute to the greatest NASCAR drivers of all-time. The set requires drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty and Jeff Gordon, who are all familiar to the casual sports fan but there are tougher autographs for the racing enthusiast to acquire, like those of Tiny Lund and pioneer Fireball Roberts who both passed away decades ago. This great set of signatures carries a GPA of 9.16 and is the first to reach 100% completion in the category.
Collectors with the finest current set in each category with at a least 95% completion, or in the case of player and mega sets, 1,000 or more cards registered in one set, receive a "Best of the Registry" icon by their set listings in the registry. Click here to view a list of those sets which were #1 and 95% complete on 5/28/10 5:00 PM EST.