Sunday, September 06, 2015

My 1951 Topps Red Back Set

Since we are in the midst of a holiday weekend, I though I would delve deep within my collector cabinet to share a vintage complete set.  Featured here is my 1951 Topps Red Back set.  As you may know, this is considered Topps very first Baseball card set. 

Since this is a Dodger blog I thought I'd start by sharing pics of the four Dodger players that are available.  Above are Gil Hodges and Duke Snider.  Below is Preacher Roe and Gene Hermanski.  Notably absent are fan favorites Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson.

I won't hold that against Topps, though.  The set only consist of 52 cards, so they couldn't include them all.  Still, you would think kids would want all the big name stars.

I'm sure you noticed the gameplay notations on the corners.  This set was an very early attempt at a sports themed gaming card set.  I'm not exactly sure how it's played, but I imagine you would shuffle the cards to find pitch outcome.  Unfortunately for Topps the concept did not catch on with kids.  Children didn't care for the game, but they apparently loved the player cards.  So much so, they finally decided to make a large scale Baseball card set to compete with Bowman the following year.

As you can see, they are smaller than your typical Baseball card; measuring 2" x 2 5/8".  Cards have rounded corners, the exact same design on the reverse of every card, and were distributed in both packs of two perforated cards and as a complete set.  Unopened complete sets are extremely rare and can sell for a large premium.  In 2011 REA sold one of these unopened sets for $7,638.  Red Back sets in NrMint to Mint condition typically sell for $700 or more.  A frugal collector not concerned with condition can put together a set for just a few hundred dollars.

I also have an unopened Red Back pack to go with my set.  You can see it that on the right. 

There appears to be two different backs to the set, but I doubt one version is rarer than another.  As you can see in the pics above, one uses a more white cardboard stock while the other uses a brown cardboard stock.

As for the complete set you can see a scan of all the cards below the fold.  BTW, although there are 52 cards in the set it is considered complete at 54.  There are two variations that make note of the player changing teams:  #36 Gus Zernial and #52 Tommy Holmes.

Click on any pic to embiggen.

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