The 1957 Topps baseball set offers several firsts, lots of rarities, and a large, evergrowing collector base. This popular set includes the rookie card of Brooks Robinson, the last regular issue card of Roy Campanella, and a card of Henry Aaron showing Hammerin’ Hank batting lefthanded. From the #1 Ted Williams to the #407 Yankee Power Hitters, the ‘57 Topps Baseball set is a classic all the way.
For the first time, Topps issued the ‘57 set with actual color photographs, not just the handcolored black and white photos of earlier years. The crisp, clean card design is coupled with the gorgeous color photos to make one of the most attractive sets Topps has ever produced.
The ‘57 set was issued in five separate series: 188, 89176, 177264, 265352, and the final 353407. While it is typical for the final series to be the scarcest, it’s the fourth series(265352) that’s the most difficult to locate in the ‘57 set. In addition, the lifetime statistical information on each player’s card was expanded for the first time.
Today’s standard 2 1/2" by 3 1/2" card was introduced with the 1957 set. Although smaller than the previous years, the new format was immediately accepted by the collecting public as "just right." Another innovation in ‘57 was the combination star card. Card #400 featured Campanella, Furillo, Hodges, and Snider while #407 offered both Mantle and Berra. Combination cards had been issued before, but not star combinations. Collectors who are building their first highgrade ‘57 Topps Baseball set will find it challenging. The usual grading intricacies are there, of course, such as corner wear, focus, gloss, depth and brilliance of color, etc. But two other factors plague the set as well. One is centering; numerous cards from this set are found with below average centering. Two, quite a few cards have "print snow," an absence of color onthe surface due to a printing defect.
- The key cards in the set are as follows:
- #1 Ted Williams
An immensely popular card showing a full waist up portrait of Williams in his classic batting pose with the full color photo of his vintage uniform. The first card in the set; therefore, extremely difficult to find in Near Mint to Mint condition.
- #10 Willie Mays
Another classic looking card, highly popular, that features a great player. Many, many examples have print snow problems. Difficult to find well centered; equally elusive with deep, rich background color.
- #18 Don Drysdale
In great demand as it’s Drysdale’s rookie card. Not rare except in high grades. A "problem card," as 70% of the examples we encounter have back centering worse than 90/10.
- #20 Hank Aaron
This gorgeous, highly popular vintagelooking card tends to be difficult to locate without print snow or with deep, bold color. A real find in top grades.
- #35 Frank Robinson
Demand keeps this card elusive, as it’s Robinson’s rookie card and quite popular.
- #76 Roberto Clemente
There are no specific problems with this card, it’s just so popular that locating a highgrade copy can be a real challenge. Some examples show extraordinary gloss for some unknown reason. When available, it’s a gorgeous card and an immediate seller.
- #95 Mickey Mantle
"Super popular" is the only way to describe this issue. It’s tough to find one wellcentered, or with vivid background color, or without printing flaws. A Near Mint to Mint copy with eye appeal is in heated demand.
- #302 Sandy Koufax
A condition rarity that has proved to be ultraelusive in high grades. Not rare in lower conditions, but very few top quality specimens surface.
- #328 Brooks Robinson
This immensely popular player’s rookie card is in great demand. Robinson’s "little kid" look seems to appeal to everyone.
- #400 Dodgers Sluggers
Of all the key cards mentioned, this is the toughest one in high grades. I’d estimate that nine out of ten copies show some degree of print snow, have centering problems, and exhibit substandard color and gloss. A real sleeper if you can locate a highend example.
- #407 Yankee Power Hitters
Not rare, but as the last card in the set it’s highly popular and in great demand for its attractiveness. Most importantly, it has both Mantle and Berra on it.
The four checklists are not numbered, so some collectors include them in the set and others don’t. All are rare in any condition; top quality examples are extremely rare. In fact, the third and fourth checklists deserve the accolade of ultrarare. As this small but significant segment of the ‘57 set becomes more appreciated, prices will increase dramatically.
- #10 Willie Mays
The 1957 Topps Baseball set has a phenomenal track record. Demand for this set has remained high regardless of the general state of the overall market. Today, it will take a collector two or three years to complete a Near Mint to Mint set at a cost of $12,000 or more. Even though the ‘57 set represents a challenging undertaking, the collector will know that he or she has completed the set that represents the pinnacle of baseball card design.