Welcome to the 2011 installment of the PSA Set Registry awards! With over 64,000 sets registered at the time of the awards deadline, the task of selecting the special award winners was brutal. 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 enshrined even more sets into our Hall of Fame so we could recognize more great sets! PSA would have never achieved our level of success without all of the loyal set registrants. We are celebrating our 20th year as the #1 authentication and grading service in the hobby. Our staff looks forward to seeing many of you at the National Sports Collectors Convention this summer at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois.
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
Jim Crandell - Best Collection of the Year
This man has more plastic than American Express, MasterCard and Visa combined. With 22,500 PSA-graded cards, Crandell has a collection that is rivaled by few but envied by many. Some of his standout sets include his completion of The Big Three in basketball (1948 Bowman, 1957 Topps and 1961 Fleer) in PSA 8 or better, many vintage baseball sets with GPAs of 8 or higher, including complete 1951 Bowman and 1953 Topps sets, several complete high-grade vintage football sets like 1952 Bowman Large and he even has several top-notch non-sports sets like a 1962 Topps Civil War News set with a GPA of 8.18. Besides the sheer volume and quality of his collection, what is most noticeable is the diversity of the subject matter. For all of those reasons and more, Crandell is being recognized in 2011 for Collection of the Year.
Donald E. Spence - The Lone Star Collection - Topps 1960s Run Mega Master Set Baseball - Best Set of the Year
In order to complete this massive run, you need 6,071 total baseball cards. Topps ruled the 1960s and some of the most important baseball cards ever produced were released during the decade. Besides the numerous Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax cards included, classic rookie cards of Carl Yastrzemski, Pete Rose, Tom Seaver, Johnny Bench, Nolan Ryan and Reggie Jackson anchor many of these popular issues. This award-winning set is not only complete but it averages well above a PSA Mint 9 across the board, a consistent level of quality from beginning to end.
John Branca #2 - 1952 Topps Basic Set Baseball - Best Rookie Set of the Year
Branca has assembled some of the finest sets in the hobby over the last several years, with several of them reaching HOF status on the registry, and his latest addition is no exception. With a GPA of 8.42, Branca’s 1952 Topps set already ranks third on the All-Time list and it immediately jumps ahead of three current HOF sets in the category. As many of you know, the 1952 Topps set is considered one of The Big Three in baseball (along with the 1909-11 T206 and 1933 Goudey baseball issues) and the premiere postwar set anchored by, perhaps the most famous trading card of all, the #311 Mickey Mantle.
Vim Idzerda (Vim's Egrets04) - 1906 Fan Craze American League - Best Vintage Pre-War Baseball Set of the Year
Often overlooked, this was one of the first baseball card issues of the century. There were two sets of 52 cards (American League) and 54 cards (National League) produced as part of a game. The cards, which resemble playing cards, feature great portraits on the front and the set includes several Hall of Famers like Napoleon Lajoie, Eddie Plank and Cy Young. This set has a remarkable GPA of 9.62 with over half of the cards graded PSA Gem Mint 10! It ranks a full point higher than the next best set on the registry and, needless to say, it is the finest collection ever registered in the category.
Stephen M. Neely, M.D. (SMN's 59's) - 1959 Topps Basic Set - Best Post-War Vintage Baseball Set of the Year (1948-1959)
This 572-card set has always been popular with collectors. From the great combo cards to the high-number All-Star series, this colorful set has a lot to offer. The set even includes Bob Gibson’s only recognized rookie card. Speaking of Gibson, finding these cards in super high-grade can be as tough as hitting the pitcher’s wicked slider, due to nasty print defects and poor centering commonly seen in this issue. This award-winning set carries a GPA of 9.09, the highest rating in registry history and one of only two sets to ever reach a PSA Mint 9 average.
Donald E. Spence – The Lone Star Collection - 1962 Topps Master Set - Best Vintage Baseball Set of the Year
When a collector dominates an entire decade as much as Spence does, it is only fitting that one of those great sets gets recognized individually. The 1962 Topps set is one of those sets that collectors either love or hate but no one can ignore. This set contains over 600 cards, with Green Tint variations, and they all are subject to visible chipping and wear as a result of those pesky brown borders. From the #1 Roger Maris card to the Mantle/Mays combo card to the Lou Brock rookie card, this set offers star power with condition sensitivity. The set even contains a 10-card tribute to Babe Ruth. This award-winning set carries a GPA of 8.76, which makes it the finest set ever registered with PSA.
Scott Chapin (The Pinhead Collection) - 1993 Finest Refractors - Best Modern Baseball Set of the Year
From 1980-1989, the hobby became a huge business as collecting cards became a nationwide phenomenon. During that decade, the hobby changed so quickly that it is hard to pick one event that defined the period. In the 1990s, if there was one set that defined the era, you would be hard pressed to select one other than the 1993 Finest Refractor set. This 199-card issue offered the first high-value chase card, or insert, that changed the hobby forever. Topps placed only one Refractor in every box of Topps Finest, making the cards rare and desirable. This year’s winner is the finest on our All-Time list, with a near perfect GPA of 9.99.
Michael Rakosi (Three for the Ages) - The Big Three Mega Set - Best Vintage Basketball Set of the Year
In the world of basketball cards, there are no more important sets that the three that make up this mega-set. From the classic 1948 Bowman set to the defect-plagued 1957 Topps issue to the ultra-bright 1961 Fleer cards, three different manufacturers are part of this 218-card run. The three-set run includes classic rookies from some of the biggest names in the sport including but not limited to George Mikan, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. The three sets carry individual GPAs of 8.97 (1948 Bowman), 8.35 (1957 Topps) and 9.34 (1961 Fleer) – all three being the finest on the All-Time list. It is hard to imagine a collection ever eclipsing this group.
D'Orsay Bryant, III, M.D. - 1987-88 Fleer - Best Modern Basketball Set of the Year
Since the 1986-87 Fleer set is so universally revered, next year’s Fleer release goes largely unnoticed. Obviously, since it follows a set filled with HOF rookies, there are many second-year cards of legendary players and the set captures, perhaps, one of basketballs’ best eras with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers battling for supremacy throughout the decade. Of course, the big card here is the second year Michael Jordan and his time was about to come. This 132-card set is complete and every single card is graded PSA Gem Mint 10! In other words, it gets no better than this. As we sit here today, it is the first and only set to reach such lofty heights.
The Allison Collection - 1948 Bowman - Best Vintage Football Set of the Year (pre-1960)
This classic black and white issue is filled with HOF rookie cards and the design offers a simplicity that many collectors love. It also represents the beginning of an 8-year span, with the exception of 1949, where Bowman dominated football card production. It wasn’t until 1955 when Topps started to make a real run of their own. Headlined by inaugural issues of Sammy Baugh, Bulldog Turner, Pete Pihos and Sid Luckman, this 108-card set also contains a number of tough short prints, which add to the challenge. This award-winning set carries a GPA of 8.26, which makes it the finest set ever assembled on the registry.
Benjamin Martello (The Hammer Collection) - 1963 Topps - Best Vintage Football Set of the Year
Just like the Topps baseball release during the same year, the colorful 1963 Topps football set is considered a collector-favorite. Those colorful borders, however, also make it very difficult to assemble a high-grade set since the edges will show the slightest bit of wear. Several HOF rookies reside here, including those of Deacon Jones, Bob Lilly, Willie Wood and Ray Nitschke to name a few. The set also includes a tough #1 card of Johnny Unitas, the middle of a 5-year run where Unitas was placed in the first slot, not to mention a key card of Jim Brown. This year’s winner carries a GPA of 8.16, making it the best current set in the category.
Frank Massaro (FabFrank)
Joe Tocco (Uncle Joe's PSA 10's)
Jeff Ratzer (JR's)
1989 Score Football (4-way tie) - Best Modern Football Set of the Year
In 2011, we have a first. This year, we have a four-way tie within a category. All four collectors have assembled a perfect PSA Gem Mint 10 set of 1989 Score football cards, one of the most important modern football issues of the last 30 years. This 330-card set offers several HOF rookies like those of Michael Irvin, Thurman Thomas, Deion Sanders, Troy Aikman and Barry Sanders, which was one of the most recognizable and popular cards of the modern era when Sanders was dominating the running game. In 1989, baseball collectors had Upper Deck’s first release. That same year, this Score issue was the one to own for football collectors.
Julius Narancsik (Northern Lights) - 1933-34 O-Pee-Chee V304 Master Set - Best Pre-War Vintage Hockey Set of the Year
If nothing else, most vintage hockey sets – especially pre-war issues – are incredibly tough. This early O-Pee-Chee is no exception. In fact, this was the first set ever produced by OPC. The Master set, which combines the first and second series from 1933, contains 72 total cards and they all share the same black and white design. The first series contains a bit more clout in terms of star power, with rookie cards of Eddie Shore, Nels Stewart, Charlie Conacher and key cards of Howie Morenz and King Clancy. The big card from second series is Aurel Joliat. This award-winning set carries a GPA of 6.35, making it the finest on the All-Time list.
Cesare – 1958-59 Topps - Best Vintage Hockey Set of the Year
During the 1950s, Topps joined Parkhurst in producing mainstream hockey issues. The 1954 Topps set, their first hockey offering, usually receives a majority of the attention but the 1958 Topps set is a another extremely important issue. Anchored by one of the most significant rookie cards in the hobby - Bobby Hull – this visually-appealing 66-card set is filled with condition obstacles, including print defects and centering problems. In fact, the Hull rookie, which was placed at the corner of the Topps sheet being card #66, is plagued by terrible centering. This year’s winner carries a GPA of 8.10, making it the finest on the All-Time list. It is the only current set to posses an average of PSA NM-MT 8 or better.
David Susko (A Work in Progress) – 1981-82 O-Pee-Chee - Best Modern Hockey Set of the Year
O-Pee-Chee took a hiatus for nearly three full decades before coming back into the world of trading card manufacturing with a vengeance in 1968…and they have been here ever since. Some of the brightest stars the sport has ever had shined during the 1980s but none shined brighter than The Great One – Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky, along with key HOF rookies of Paul Coffey and Peter Stastny, are included in this 396-card set. As many collectors know, the OPC issues are often much tougher to find in high-grade than their Topps counterparts. This year’s winner has a fantastic GPA of 9.24, which makes it the finest 1981 OPC hockey set listed on the registry.
Jay L. Miller (RingKing) - 1948 Leaf Boxing Master Set - Best Vintage Miscellaneous Sports Set of the Year
Like hockey, the sport of boxing has a rich history and trading card issues covering the famous figures from the ring go back into the 19th century. This 54-card set contains several very important cards like those of boxing icon Joe Louis, a tough #1 card of former heavyweight champ Jack Dempsey and former middleweight champ Rocky Graziano, one of the top rarities in all of card collecting. In fact, there are far fewer Graziano cards (fewer than 10 known) than there are T206 Honus Wagners and other major rarities. In addition, the entire set is condition sensitive and even tougher than the baseball and football sets issued that same year. This award-winning set carries a GPA of 7.52, which makes it the best on the All-Time Finest list.
Logan R. Ward (The Stock Car Museum) - 1988 Maxx Charlotte Racing Master Set - Best Modern Miscellaneous Sports Set of the Year
This 104-card set is one of the most popular issues in all of racing. Many the sport’s big names are found within, including the likes of Richard Petty, Rusty Wallace and Cale Yarborough. The set includes images of not only the drivers themselves but, in some cases, the cars they drive and the venues where they race. The key card to the set is the Dale Earnhardt promo, card #99, the most valuable card in the issue by far. This year’s winner is the first set, and currently the only one in the category, to reach a perfect GPA of PSA Gem Mint 10 across the board on the All-Time Finest list.
Kevin McHolland (mcholke) - Tony Perez Master Set - Best Vintage Player Set of the Year
Tony Perez, while a member of the Hall of Fame, was one of the most overlooked members of Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine during the 1970s. When you look at their lineup and consider that it was one of the best teams ever assembled, it is easy to see why. That said, Perez was adored by his teammates and he consistently delivered clutch hits. Perez had such a long career that, technically, his cards start in the vintage era (1964) but extend all the way to 1987. His toughest card, the 1968 Topps 3-D issue, is also the most valuable from his career. Currently, you need 248 total cards to complete and this year’s winner carries a GPA of 8.46.
Chris Inouye (Ice King 99) - Wayne Gretzky Basic Set - Best Modern Player Set of the Year
Every sport has an icon, an athlete that was able to rise above everyone else in the sport and establish a standard that may never be approached. In hockey, there have been several legends of the ice but there’s only one player that fans call The Great One. Gretzky was able to put up numbers that seem utterly impossible and he set a standard of excellence that may never be matched despite not being the most physically-gifted man in the sport. This award-winning set is a tribute to Gretzky and, fittingly, the level of excellence is unsurpassed in the category. Even though many of Gretzky’s cards are of the tough OPC variety, it carries an almost perfect GPA of 9.82.
Rick Edwards (Rick E's) - 1961 Topps Baseball Stamps - Best Topps Specialty Set of the Year
During the 1960s, Topps produced many interesting non-mainstream trading card sets. Some were experimental in nature while others actually made it to the marketplace. This is one of those sets. The year 1961 was a memorable one in baseball, which included the chase of Babe Ruth’s single season home run record by Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. As expected, those two men are the anchors of this 208-piece set, which includes almost all of the stars on the era. This year’s winner is first complete set of its kind on the registry and it carries a terrific GPA of 7.91, more than 1.5 points higher than the next closest set.
Donald E. Spence – The Lone Star Collection - The Top 200 Sportscards in the Hobby - Best Overall Specialty Set of the Year
In the early part of his career at PSA, Joe Orlando wrote a little book entitled The Top 200 Sportscards in the Hobby. The book wasn’t an expensive production but it covered virtually every sport, from the vintage era to modern cards. In order to complete it, you need everything from a T206 Wagner to a 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski to a 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie. The diversity is what makes it so interesting and challenging since most collectors are hyper-focused on one area or another. In 2011, Spence completed this set with the addition of the super rare 1948 Leaf Graziano – the finest one known copy (PSA EX-MT 6). The entire set carries a GPA of 8.44, which seems near impossible.
Tom Clark (TC Collection) - 1970-1983 Kellogg's Mega Set Baseball - Best Regional Set of the Year
If you were collecting baseball cards during the 1970s or 1980s, how could you forget those funky Kellogg’s cards? With a 3-D design and unusual size, these cards were the talk of the hobby for quite some time. The look of the cards epitomized the period, ushering in a change to the style collectors were used to seeing. Yes, Topps tried a similar look in 1968 with a test set of 3-Ds but Kellogg’s took it a step further by issuing these cards every year except 1973. While not terribly tough in high-grade, beware of cracks in the top layer of plastic. All of the sets recognized this year are spectacular but this run of sets is a standout amongst standouts. With 850 required cards, this complete set carries a GPA of 9.68! This collection is the ultimate tribute to a time gone by.
Michael Bothner (Mike's Set 1) - 1971 Topps Baseball Coins - Best Oddball Set of the Year
This 153-coin set has always had sort of a “cult following” in the hobby. Featuring many of the stars of the day, including Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, Johnny Bench and Pete Rose to name a few, this issue has become an affordable alternative to many of the more traditional sets of the era. Tiny color portraits of the players are affixed to the front of these coins with player info affixed to the back, both areas can sustain damage that can impact the grade. This award-winning collection is the only current set registered with a GPA of PSA Mint 9 or better at 9.03, reaching the top of the All-Time Finest list.
Bill Sakas (Decobill) – 1960-1969 Topps Cello Packs Any Series Baseball - Best Unopened Pack Set of the Year
As collectors know, the PSA Set Registry is not limited to traditional trading card sets, there are also other categories like this one. If you think finding some low population cards is tough, try finding some vintage unopened packs. Even if you can find them, now you have to resist the temptation of opening them, especially in this case since cello packs often produce higher grades than traditional wax packs! While it is not advisable to open vintage packs in most cases, over the years, more and more vintage packs continue to be opened. As a result, the supply of original packs continues to dry up. This wonderful pack run carries a GPA of 9.14, a stellar level of quality across the board.
Scottsdalecards - 1933 Indian Gum - Best Pre-War Vintage Non-Sports Set of the Year
The registry is home to a lot of extremely difficult sets, in a variety of prewar categories. You could make a strong argument that no prewar segment is tougher on the whole than the one found in non-sports trading cards. Not only are many of these sets tough to complete in high-grade, in many cases, the period contains some of the most visually appealing cards ever made. The 1933 Indian Gum set is a prime example. Closely resembling the 1933 Goudey baseball set in design, this 216-card issue captures everything from action scenes to profiles of Indian Chiefs to even a card of Billy The Kid. Key cards of Geronimo and General Custer are also part of this classic production. This award-winning set carries an excellent GPA of 7.62, making it the best on the All-Time Finest list.
William P. Bengen (Jean-Luc Picard) - 1955 Topps Rails and Sails - Best Vintage Non-Sports Set of the Year (1948-1959)
In 1955, Topps produced a 200-card set that was focused on nothing but trains and boats, with the first 130 cards depicting various trains and related components, and the last 70 cards cover different types of boats. The end result was an issue that contains great information on the backs but, even more importantly, fantastic artwork on the fronts. The set features everything from speedy locomotives to subway trains to war ships, all captured in colorful detail. It also happens to be the set that Bengen remembers most vividly from his childhood. This year’s winner has held the top spot in the category for several years and it continues to rank number one on the All-Time Finest list with a stellar GPA of 8.24.
Crack of the bat collectibles/Dad and Cassie’s 1964 Munsters - 1964 Leaf The Munsters - Best Vintage Non-Sports Set of the Year
The Munsters was one of the most popular television shows of its time. The campy sitcom captured the life of Herman Munster, a Frankenstein-like character, along with his entire family. Herman often found himself in a variety of ridiculous situations, which helped provide plenty of opportunity for slapstick laughs. The 72-card set captures all the characters, from Lilly to Eddie to Grandpa and more. This black-and-white set, like the show itself, is considered one of the most popular entertainment productions from the decade. This award-winning set is the first to reach an overall GPA of PSA Mint 9 at 9.14 and it remains the finest collection in the category.
David Edwards (DM's Alpha Set) - 1993 Magic the Gathering (MTG) Alpha Set - Best Modern Non-Sports Set of the Year
Magic The Gathering, the game, has remained popular with kids and adults since its inaugural release in 1993. As the years went by, the cards used to play the game have become more and more popular. It was the first game of its kind, sparking the creation of various other games that followed in its footsteps. In fact, MTG cards have become collected just like most other trading cards and an increasingly-popular subject on the registry. Like most other non-sports issues, it is the artwork that hobbyists are drawn to. There were a few different card series released in 1993 by MTG but the Alpha set has always been the most desirable. This year’s winner carries a GPA of 9.77 and currently ranks as the best on the All-Time Finest list in a highly-competitive category.
Al Glaser (TicketCollector) - Daytona 500 Racing (1959-present) - Best Ticket Set of the Year
The Daytona 500 is one of the most prestigious races on the NASCAR circuit. Every year, drivers race 500 miles on the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida for the largest purse offered. Starting in 1959, this race was originally held under a different name but, by 1961, it became known as The Daytona 500. Several racing greats have won this event, including Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Dale Jarrett, and Jeff Gordon. There are 53 tickets required to complete this set and this year’s winner has a weighted GPA of 12.66, which is nearly 4 points higher than the next best complete set in the category.
Tony Garcia III - 500 Home Run Club Single Signed Baseballs - Best Single Signed Baseball Set of the Year
Baseballs are, arguably, the most popular medium in all autograph collecting. This is especially true when talking about single-signed items pertaining to members of the 500 Home Run club. The biggest names in baseball history are home run hitters. They are, generally, the most popular players because home runs are what excite the crowd. Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey, Jr. and more are all here. The set’s two toughest autographs are Jimmie Foxx and Mel Ott, which you rarely see in top condition. Of course, the set is centered on The Sultan of Swat – Babe Ruth. This award-winning set has a phenomenal GPA of 9.36, including an 8.5 example of The Babe – one of the finest in the hobby.
Adam Baron Cohen (The Twinight Collection) - 1927 New York Yankees (Any Medium) - Best Autograph Set of the Year
Continuing with sets anchored by The Bambino, the 1927 Yankees are not only considered one of the greatest baseball teams of all-time, autographs from its members are amongst the most desirable in the hobby. Most people are familiar with the big names like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Tony Lazzeri but some of the toughest autographs to find are those from players who are not nearly as familiar to average baseball fans. Scarce autographs from Walter Beall, Pat Collins, Joe Giard, Johnny Grabowski, and Urban Shocker are examples. The extremely high-quality autograph set carries a GPA of 9.28 making it the best in its category and the winner for this year’s award. The set includes one of, if not the, finest Babe Ruth signed album pages known (dated to 1927) in PSA Gem Mint 10 condition.
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 5/31/11 5:00 PM EST.