Set Registry 2019 Award Winners
Message from PSA:
Welcome to the 2019 PSA Set Registry Awards. Another year, another difficult task for our panel of experts. At the time of the awards deadline, the PSA Set Registry featured more than 148,000 total registered sets, so you know the competition was stiff. This growth made the selection process increasingly challenging, as more and more collectors continue to raise the bar on quality and completion each year. After extensive review, we are honored to be able to recognize several new sets this year with Set of the Year honors. We are also excited to recognize twenty new Hall of Fame collections, all of which reflect the dedication and prestige of their Set Registry Hall of Fame predecessors.
The PSA authentication and grading business continues to reach new heights, thanks to the support of the hobby community. PSA just concluded yet another record-breaking year, and Collectors Universe celebrated a significant milestone by certifying its 75 millionth collectible in June. The PSA staff looks forward to celebrating our wonderful hobby with all of you later this summer in Chicago at the National Sports Collectors Convention.
One area of improvement that the staff is particularly proud to celebrate is the growth of the Set Registry Achievement Program. We have improved the website and mobile application with a fresh design and new features that we hope will keep you entertained as you strive to build your collection. The Achievement Program will keep getting better as we roll out new achievements and benefits to the community. If you would like to share your comments or suggestions with our team, please email us direct at [email protected].
Thank you for your time and support. Now, let’s all get back to collecting!
Walt Bettinger - Best Collection of the Year
It is funny how seemingly innocuous events can sometimes change the course of our lives. When Walt Bettinger was a child, his family spent a summer in Baltimore. This was in 1966, and the local sporting teams offered plenty of heroes for a young child to admire. Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, Lenny Moore, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Dave McNally and many more caught young Walt’s attention that summer. The trips to the corner store for a few packs of bubble gum cards gradually became more frequent and before long the young boy was actively enjoying a hobby that would span his entire life.
Now decades later, Walt Bettinger has built a world class collection consisting of nearly 19,000 PSA graded cards, the core of which is inspired by that summer in Baltimore and his days as a young sports fan and card collector. A look over his PSA Set Registry shows a passion for post-1950 Baltimore player and team sets, predominantly in baseball and football. However, there are also a number of company sets, mainly from the 1960s and 1970s. What may be most admirable about this collection is that while the Hall of Fame members can be found in abundance, equally celebrated are Andy Etchebarren, Elrod Hendricks, Ken Singleton and other players he appreciated in his youth.
As to be expected of a collection of this caliber, Walt Bettinger’s PSA Set registry listings reflect an emphasis on quality and completion. He holds a Top 5 ranking in 625 of the 650 Registry sets in which he is currently participating. Additionally, 588 of those sets are 100% complete. Topps master sets can be found in abundance, but so can esoteric sets of the era such as Dexter Press Postcards, Sunoco Stamps and Fleer Wallet Photos. In a very unique manner, Walt Bettinger has looked back at his childhood passion through the eyes of an advanced hobbyist and built a collection that anyone can appreciate.
In 2019, we are honored to add the terrific collection of Walt Bettinger to our exclusive list of annual award winners for Best Collection of the Year.
rjmjr - O-Pee-Chee Hockey 1970s Run - Best Set of the Year
There are some hobby accomplishments that nearly defy logic. This is one of them. The 1970s O-Pee-Chee run requires a full decade of hockey cards to complete and consists of 3508 graded cards, one of which is the highly-desired Wayne Gretzky rookie. This year a collector became the first in PSA Set Registry history to acquire and input every one of them. Not only that, but this massive collection was built entirely in high grade and maintains a GPA of 10.07.
Walt Bettinger (bulldog79) - 1970 Topps Baseball Basic & Master Sets - Best Rookie Set of the Year
There was a newcomer that made his way onto the 1970 Topps Baseball Set Registry scene, and he took the category by storm. Now sitting at the top of the ranking, this set contains 489 cards that are the highest examples graded, and another 92 with just a single card graded higher. Only three cards are graded lower than PSA 9, and the overall GPA for this set is a 9.55. The icing on this particular cake is a beautiful 1970 Topps wax pack that has been given the grade of PSA 9.
Jim Chanin (Jim's) - 1922 American Caramel (E120) - Best Pre-War Vintage Baseball Set of the Year
This challenging set has much to offer collectors. Beautiful sepia-toned images, condition sensitivity and numerous hall of famers make this set a favorite within the early candy genre. There are 240 cards needed to complete this nearly 100-year-old set and with names like Alexander, Cobb, Hornsby, Johnson and Ruth, they do not come easily or inexpensively. This particular set has stood atop the leader board for three years. It is currently the only 100% complete entry in the PSA Set Registry and maintains a GPA of 5.97.
J's 30-Year Project - 1952 Topps Super Set - Best Post-War Vintage Baseball Set of the Year (1948-1959)
(Note that this award also includes the 4 sub-sets in this collection.)
The 1952 Topps baseball set is one of the most storied releases of our hobby. Not willing to settle with the standard 407-card issue and the challenge of acquiring the fabled ’52 Mantle, some collectors desire to own all known variations. Red, gray and black backs, along with swapped player bios and minor printing variations add another 143 items to the checklist, rounding out the full set to 550 cards. Only seven PSA Set Registry members have ever passed the 50% mark in this challenge, and this particular set is one of just two to have ever been completed. It is also the finest ever assembled, boasting a GPA of 7.59.
Steve Eberhardt (seinbigd) - 1962 Post Cereal Basic & Master Sets - Best Vintage Baseball Set of the Year
Collecting high-grade vintage cards are a challenge regardless of the set. However, the task becomes infinitely more difficult when the person charged with removing the cards from their cereal-box home was a young child armed with nothing more than a pair of kitchen scissors. Add in the fact that the work was done in the early 1960s, well-before a card’s condition was much of a consideration, and the chances of finding clean, well-cut examples is incredibly slim. This set of 210 cards was painstakingly assembled. It is the only complete set of its kind on the PSA Set Registry and boasts a GPA of 8.26.
Alan Rubenstein (Mets-71) - 1971 O-Pee-Chee - Best Modern Baseball Set of the Year
Assembling a black-bordered set is among the greatest challenges the hobby has to offer. Those darkly-colored edges are brutally-fragile and the graders can be unforgiving. And yet the greatest challenges reap the sweetest of rewards, as is the case with 1971 O-Pee-Chee baseball cards. Not only does the set consist of 752 condition-sensitive cards, but the population of cards available is far smaller than that of their Topps counterpart. Additionally, these cards were mostly distributed across our Northern border. This particular set is 100% complete and at 8.55, has a GPA, a full half-point higher than the next-best offering.
Pat Vesper (vintagebasketball) - 1957-58 Kahns Wieners - Best Vintage Basketball Set of the Year
The Kahn’s Wiener baseball, football and basketball cards are among the most popular and challenging of all food-issue sets. Packaged right along with the food products, the cards suffered from staining and damage from packaging. This inaugural Kahn’s basketball set features a Royals team during their first season in Cincinnati, and no cards have a PSA population greater than 26. Of the 11 cards in this award-winning set, seven have the highest grade in the population, and four are the only example of such quality. This set is the only complete entry currently in the PSA Set Registry and it has a GPA of 7.37.
Michael Rakosi (Mahtama Gandhi) - 1971-72 Topps - Best Modern Basketball Set of the Year
The 1971-72 Topps release contains 11 hall of fame rookie cards and another 28 cards featuring hall of fame coaches and players, making it rich in roundball legends. Competition is this PSA Set Registry category is fierce, with several entries in the running for the top spot. And yet this particular set is the one that earns the title. All 234 cards are of premium quality, as it has been constructed with only PSA 9s and 10s. It leads the pack with a GPA of 9.36.
Curt Schmidgall (The Hawkeye Collection) - 1956 Topps Basic & Master Sets - Best Vintage Football Set of the Year (pre-1960)
As Topps’ first full-scale professional football set, their 1956 release maintains a certain level of importance within the hobby. Rookie cards of hall of famers Roosevelt Brown, Lenny Moore, Stan Jones and Roosevelt Grier are noteworthy elements of the 126-card master set, and the known rarities make completion in high grade a considerable challenge. This PSA Set Registry listing contains 71 cards that either share or maintain sole ownership of the highest grade in the PSA Population Report, and boasts a GPA of 8.70, more than a full point above the next-best entry.
Gould Collection - 1967 Topps - Best Vintage Football Set of the Year
A classic issue representing the old American Football League, the 1967 Topps set contains 132 cards of AFL greats. A dozen hall of fame members make an appearance in this set and are accompanied by memorable gridiron stars such as Cookie Gilchrist, Wahoo McDaniel, Ben Davidson and Speedy Duncan. The unique design and stylistic team names on front help to identify these cards as products of the 1960s. This particular set has been a category leader since 2013. A 9.60 GPA with 100% completion puts it in a class of its own.
WiTN3$$iNgGR3ATNE$$ - 1984 Topps USFL - Best Modern Football Set of the Year
The USFL existed just long enough for Topps to issue two 132-card boxed sets featuring the young league. Of those two issues, the 1984 is the more desirable as it contains the first cards of several players who went on to become NFL legends. This award-winning set consists of 112 PSA 10s and 20 PSA 9s. Among the 10s are rookie cards of Reggie White, Jim Kelly, Steve Young and Herschel Walker. Competition is fierce in this category with nine entries maintaining a GPA over 9.0, but this one stands above all the rest with 100% completion and a GPA of 9.85.
Ben Trudeau (Benoitben28) - 1933-34 O-Pee-Chee (V304) Master - Best Pre-War Vintage Hockey Set of the Year
(Note that this award also includes the 2 sub-sets in this collection.)
This classic 72-card issue was released over the course of a two-year span. Nearly every card in this rare set is considered a rookie and among the most desirable are hockey legends Eddie Shore, Howie Morenz, Tiny Thompson and Bun Cook. This particular set contains no card lower than a PSA 6 and has been the leader in its category since 2015. Weighing in with a GPA of 7.33, it ranks nearly 1.5 points above the next current-finest set.
rjmjr - 1952-53 Parkhurst - Best Vintage Hockey Set of the Year
The early Parkhurst sets are among the most classic cards of the hockey genre. Relatively small in size, they are dense in legends of the game. The 1952 issue is no different, as it contains the cards of Maurice Richard, Bernie Geoffrion, Doug Harvey, Red Kelly, Terry Sawchuk, Ted Lindsay and Gordie Howe, as well as the rookie card of Dickie Moore, Tim Horton and Bob Hassard. Twenty-four of the 105 cards in this leading set are the top examples in the PSA Population Report, resulting in a GPA of 8.41.
rjmjr - 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee Basic & Master Sets - Best Modern Hockey Set of the Year
To complete the journey of this master set, one must acquire 289 cards of NHL players and 51 short-printed cards representing the WHA, including a handful of difficult variations. High-grade collectors also must overcome those dreaded colored borders that are always prone to chipping. This particular set has accepted all challenges and come out victorious. One hundred percent completion with a GPA of 9.36 place this collection above all others in the PSA Set Registry.
Ron Gates (Gator1) - 1928 W.A. & A.C. Churchman Men of the Moment - Small - Best Vintage Miscellaneous Sports Set of the Year
This British tobacco issue takes a whimsical look at 50 of the greatest athletes of the day. Boxers, golfers, tennis stars and more are represented by unique caricatures with standard biographical information on the reverse. This particular set has held the top spot in the PSA Set Registry for three years running. It stands tall with 100% completion and a GPA of 8.54. The top card in the set is golf legend Bobby Jones’s rookie card, which has graded a PSA 9, and has not been surpassed by any others in the hobby.
Ronald A. Sparschu (RAS) - 1991 Kayo Run - Master (Boxing/Wrestling) - Best Modern Miscellaneous Sports Set of the Year
This classic 1990s boxing issue features fighters from all era in a clean, attractive card. From Jim Corbett to Barney Ross, Floyd Patterson to Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson and everyone in-between, they are all here. Of the 336 cards in this particular set, all but 26 feature the highest graded examples in the hobby, a truly astounding feat. Only one PSA Set Registry member has ever completed this task in graded form, and the resulting accomplishment maintains a 9.53 GPA.
Laurence E. Stempel, M.D. (stempel.1) - Ernie Banks Master Set - Best Vintage Player Set of the Year
(Note that this award also includes the 2 sub-sets in this collection.)
Ernie Banks was one of the most universally-admired players in major league history, and the plethora of cards that were produced during his playing career speaks to that fact. The Mr. Cub master set comprises some 176 items, ranging in value and rarity from standard Topps releases to obscure test and regional issues. One of just two complete collections on the PSA Set Registry, this particular accumulation ranks nearly a full point ahead of the competition with an overall GPA of 7.52.
Michael Richards (Future Lone Star) - Derek Jeter Basic & Collector Issues Set - Best Modern Player Set of the Year
(Note that this award also includes the 1 sub-set in this collection.)
One of the most popular players in the New York Yankees long and storied history, Derek Jeter is well-represented within the hobby. The Bronx Bomber great has 674 items in his Basic & Collector Issue Set which range from 1992-2015. Of all the Jeter fans in the world, only one has achieved 100% completion in this daunting task. This incredible collection contains every single piece and boasts a GPA of 9.83. It is a collection truly fitting of the greatest shortstop to wear the Yankee pinstripes.
William J. Toppi - 1955 Topps Doubleheaders Baseball - Best Topps Specialty Set of the Year
There are few sets in the hobby as unique as the 1955 Topps Doubleheaders. The series of 66 cards not only melds multiple players into a single image, but side-by-side the cards form a stunning contiguous baseball scene. Loaded with the greats of the Fabulous 50s, these wonderful cards suffered condition woes more than others due to their folding nature. They are a tough and desirable issue from the Golden Age of baseball. This particular set ranks above all others on the PSA Set Registry with 100% completion and a GPA of 8.22.
Shaun M. Holt (SMH Rookie Collection) - Bill Simmons' Hall of Fame Basketball Pyramid - Best Overall Specialty Set of the Year
The best of the best is what this set calls for and if you’re going to attempt it, be ready for the challenge. Ninety-five rookie cards of the greatest players in NBA history in the highest-possible grades that begin with 1948 Bowman and end with 2005 Topps. Jordan, Jabbar, Bird, Chamberlin, Mikan, O’Neal and all the rest. This is the only collection at 100% completion currently on the PSA Set Registry, and it was built with a GPA of 9.27.
Charles M. Merkel (olemiss) - 1954 Wilson Franks Baseball - Best Regional Set of the Year
Long considered one of the premier regional food issues in the hobby, the 1954 Wilson Franks set consists of 20 cards featuring hardball stars of the 1950s. Bob Feller, Roy Campanella and Ted Williams are some of the more notable cards in this set that has been affectionately dubbed the “flying hot dog cards.” Having been packaged with food, these cards are notoriously found in rough condition. However, this set has been the nicest on the PSA Set registry since 2014. It boasts a GPA of 8.01 and no card is graded lower than a PSA 8oc.
Jonathan J. Feucht (Lombardi Time) - 1962-63 Salada Coins Football Set - Best Oddball Set of the Year
This entry is nearly as close to perfection as a set can be. Just five of the 154 Salada football coins in this set have not received a grade of PSA 10, and they are all PSA 9s with none graded higher. It has maintained the top spot in the category since 2011. Issued in dessert packages, this set of colorful coins is populated by some of the greatest names of the 1960s, including Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown and Chuck Bednarik. This set is 100% complete and boasts a GPA of 9.96.
Kane's Wax Pack Collection - 1970-1979 Topps Hockey Wax Packs - Any Series - Best Unopened Pack Set of the Year
There is a simple purity to collecting wax packs. At their core, these are the basis of nearly all of our collections, which makes vintage packs among the most important items in our hobby. This outstanding collection features high-grade representation of each Topps hockey wax pack of the 1970s. This particular collection has held the top spot in its category for the past three years with a GPA of 8.62, despite tough competition.
DJR - 1888 Allen & Ginter Celebrated American Indian Chiefs (N2) Basic & Master Sets - Best 19th Century Non-Sports Set of the Year (Pre-1900)
The various Allen & Ginter sets of the late 1880s feature some of the most beautiful artwork ever to grace a trading card. The N2 Celebrated American Indian Chiefs set is no different. Comprised of 54 cards representing the leaders of tribes across the continent, this set is a veritable who’s who of early Native American leadership. At full completion with a 7.58 GPA, this set ranks more than a full point above any other complete set. It represents a fantastic accomplishment in 19th century trading cards.
Mac Oxford (EMO) - 1934 Garbaty Cigarette Moderne Schonheitsgalerie - Master Set - Best Pre-War Vintage Non-Sports Set of the Year (1900-1947)
(Note that this award also includes the 2 sub-sets in this collection.)
Passion and dedication are the words best used when discussing the completion of this set. This collection of the most famous film stars of the age is comprised of 600 different cards, issued in separate 300-card series. The majority of the fragile cards have condition-sensitive, colored borders that are prone to chipping. This particular set is the only one on the PSA Set Registry to have gone beyond 50% completion. It stands at 100% completion and with a GPA of 8.74.
Aaron's NS Cards - 1951 Bowman Jets, Rockets, Spacemen - Best Vintage Non-Sports Set of the Year (1948-1959)
An exceptionally popular mid-century non-sports issue, this set was released in three 36-card series, with the middle section being the most difficult to obtain. The beautifully colored cards depict futuristic scenes of space adventure and exploration that are coupled by imaginative text on the backs. Competition is tight within this category, as less than a full point separates the top six entries in the PSA Set Registry. This set boasts 100% completion and a GPA of 8.14.
Robert Davidson (Bob's Best) - 1964 Topps Beatles Color with Wax Pack - Best Vintage Non-Sports Set of the Year (1960-1969)
(Note that this award also includes the 1 sub-set in this collection.)
The Fab Four can be found in all of their groovy glory in the 1964 Topps Beatles Color set. The 64 cards and accompanying wax pack necessary for this set are among the greatest of Topps music-related issues. As with all things Beatles, these cards are ferociously collected and competition is tough among enthusiasts. However, this set stands above the rest in the PSA Set Registry. Coming in with a 9.45 GPA, this entry is more than half-a-point greater than the second-place listing and has maintained the top spot for more than six years.
Lorenz Heger (Japanese Base Set PSA 10) - 1996 Pokemon Japanese - Best Modern Non-Sports Set of the Year
Pokemon cards are among the most intensely collected sets in the entire hobby. And as with all cards, the older and nicer the cards, the more desirable they are to hobbyists. These cards hit both requirements. The 1996 Pokemon Japanese issue was the first Pokemon trading card set ever released. This particular set is not only the first ever completed on the PSA Set Registry, but it was done completely with PSA 10 cards. 100% completion and a GPA of 10.0. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Al Glaser (TicketCollector) - World Series Walk-Off Home Runs (1949-Present) - Best Ticket Set of the Year
When it comes to creativity, rarity, and historical significance, you cannot get much better than this set of tickets representing all walk-off world series home runs from 1949 to present. These tickets represent some of the most exciting moments in the history of the Fall Classic, when the entire nation cheered or cried at the outcome of a single pitch. This collection is comprised only of full tickets to the games that made household names of Mazeroski, Fisk, Gibson and many others.
David Ublansky (ZuHuDu Collection) - 3000 Strikeout Club - Best Single Signed Baseball Set of the Year
Containing baseballs signed by many of the game’s most dominant pitchers, this is truly a hall of fame-worthy collection. This set consists of 16 single-signed baseballs, all of which have undergone PSA’s full, Autographed Baseball Grading service. This particular set has sat atop the leaderboard for two years. It is 100% complete and maintains a GPA of 9.51.
Daniel Moore (APA8Memreez) - 1978 Topps Football - Best PSA/DNA Autograph Set of the Year
Autographed card sets are a labor of love. Tracking down individual athletes, writing letters and hunting autographs of deceased players are not exercises for the casual collector. This 1978 Topps football set is 100% complete with all single-player cards autographed. That is 487 different autographed 1978 Topps cards – hall of famers, one-year players, and everyone in-between. No one else in the PSA/DNA Set Registry has even attempted the set. It is in a league all its own.
Ben Thornhill (West Wood) - First Ballot HOF Players Game-Used Bats - Modern (1970-Present) - Best Game-Used Bat Set of the Year
Creativity plays a large part in our collections and this set is nothing if not creative, although outstanding is an apt descriptor as well. This collection consists of game used bats from the post-1970 first ballot hall of fame members. There are currently 15 bats in the collection, and they were used by the greatest players of the last 50 years. This collection is 100% complete and carries a GPA of 9.79. No bat is this group has a rating lower the PSA 9.5 Mint +.
Michael Richards (Future Lone Star) - Derek Jeter Basic & Collector Issues Set
There are many ways to use the PSA Set Registry. Some use it as a checklist, others as a source of competition or networking. Some truly dedicated collectors use it for all of those, but also as a means to share their collections with the hobby. This Registry album features beautiful front and back scans of all 674 cards in this category. It has been transformed from a simple listing of Derek Jeter cards to visual celebration of his long and storied career
Best of the Registry Winners of 2019
Sets in the following categories that were #1 on 5/31/19 5pm EST (2pm PST) have been recognized as "Best of the Registry." They meet one of the following requirements:
- 95% complete for vintage sets pre-1970
- 100% complete for modern sets (1970-present)
- 1,000 or more cards registered in player and mega sets
10 Year Anniversary Recipients
To celebrate collectors who have won awards for being number one in their category for at least ten years in a row, we recognize their sets with the 10 Year Anniversary icon. To these collectors, you have our thanks for your loyalty and friendship. We appreciate all you do for the PSA Set Registry. To view a list of these award winning sets, please click here.