The 1957 Topps basketball set is one of the toughest issues in the hobby. With the level of difficulty involved and the key cards that reside in the set, this Topps issue is always in high demand.
Recently, Marc Perna, of Vintage Sports Investments, uncovered a large group of 1957 Topps basketball cards during a trip to Texas. This news is obviously very intriguing to collectors due to the scarcity mentioned above. The story goes as follows:
A woman in her late-70s, named Martha, contacted Perna through his company website. Martha's late husband was very active in the vending machine business in the mid-to-late 1950s and, while sifting through her garage; she uncovered 11 of the machines he used. The machines were the typical 1950s card and gum examples that you see in major auctions today; they represented a time long past.
Interestingly enough, during a recent auction, one of these very same vending machines appeared as a lot for public sale. After Martha discovered the machines, she sold them off to various antique stores in the surrounding area. Martha would sift through her garage one more time and, as she dug deeper into the piles of memories, some vending boxes of 1957 Topps basketball emerged.
At first, Martha was unsure of what she had but, after closer inspection, the find became real. All of the boxes were original and unopened. Aside from some staining on the outside of the boxes, they were fairly new in appearance. When Perna arrived in Texas and finally saw the boxes for himself, he was amazed that these gems could survive for so many decades. Perna figured the dry climate kept the boxes intact and prevented the cardboard from succumbing to the elements.
The cards themselves were as fresh as the day they were produced. The boxes still had remnants of printer's dust throughout, further authenticating the find. Remember what I said about the difficulty of this issue above? Perna was about to find out, first hand, how tough the 1957 Topps basketball cards really are despite finding them untouched for many years.
As typical with the issue, poor centering and print defects plague the overwhelming majority of the cards. Out of the 1,711 total cards, only 50 or so had the necessary qualifications for a PSA NM-MT 8 or better! That's only a percentage of about 3% and these cards were straight from the factory.
Perna would leave with all the cards after enjoying a terrific meal of chicken and dumplings, not to mention peach cobbler pie. When he arrived back at his office, Perna began sorting through the boxes and organizing the cards. Below is a population breakdown of all the cards unearthed:
|Card Number||Card Amount Discovered|
As you can see, there were only 17 Bill Russell cards found while there were 42 Bob Cousy examples reinforcing the short print versus double print aspect. Amazingly, this find should not alter the market in a negative fashion, as the high-grade population numbers will only change slightly. What this find will do is bring attention to the fact that vintage issues, especially this tough basketball issue, are incredibly tough to locate in NM-MT condition or better. Remember that these cards were found in their original boxes with only 50 of 1,711 cards potential candidates for PSA 8s. Amazing!