Wednesday, March 30, 2011

1964 Topps Giants -- More Recent Pickups

I've started and stopped collecting the 1964 Topps Giants several times over the years. About 8-9 years ago, I managed to get within 10 cards of completing it, but broke it up and sent the cards to help others fill their own needs. Since then, I've collected them but have never done more than pick up a card here and there. I currently need 23 of the set's 60 cards.

I'd like to show off two I recently picked up as a way of showing them to collectors who may not be aware of them. They're actually neat cards that present well.

Topps was on a roll in 1964. In addition to their regular base set, which was issued in wax packs with a set of metal coins (covered here last October), they issued two other sets in separate wax wrappers. One was a set of die-cut cards called Stand-Ups, which are a good idea for a later blog entry. The other was a set of cards
that was featured in a postcard-sized format. For such large cards, they didn't have cluttered front designs:

Card #12 -- Al Kaline, Detroit Tigers

The large photo is only obscured by a small white baseball graphic in the lower corner that contains a name, team and position. The backs are laid out like a newspaper story and tells of a significant feat of the player's career:

While some sources say the 1971 Topps set was the first to use pictures on the back, these were issued a good seven years prior to them. 

There were 60 cards in all, mainly featuring stars of the day. Seven cards were short-printed (Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, Galen Cisco, Bill Skowron, Dick Stuart, Bob Friend, Wayne Causey). The short prints are not scarce, however, so putting together a complete set isn't a terrible challenge. The large-size format made them ideal for autographs, and there are a few sets floating around that are fully signed despite the early deaths of players like Roberto Clemente, Turk Farrell and Nellie Fox.

Among the books on my reference shelf is a large volume called The Complete Book of Collectible Baseball Cards. Written in 1987, the cover says it is written by the editors of Consumer Guide but the copyright page indicates Bob Lemke was the author. In his writeup about the set, he mentions that the cards are the "Rodney Dangerfield" of 1960s Topps baseball card issues ("They don't get no respect"). While he says the cards were issued in huge quantities and are "generally perceived as being common as dirt," he did mention that collectors have absorbed the cards and gave it an "above average" grade for future appreciation.

At the time, common cards were 15 cents, with Mickey Mantle being $2-3 and short-printed HOFers Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays at $5-7. Boy, have the times changed. As the hobby got hot at the end of the 1980s, all of Mantle's cards escalated in price including the '64 Giant. That said, the card is still inexpensive enough for many collectors to get an authentic card from Mantle's playing days that is a great deal.

Before I go, here's another great card from the set, which commemorates a feat we won't likely see again for a very long time:  

 Card #31 -- Warren Spahn, Milwaukee Braves
350 wins has only been surpassed twice since 1963, by Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux. The active leader is 48 year-old Jamie Moyer with 267. The nearest player under 35 in Roy Halladay, who has 169. That's less than halfway to the milestone.


  1. I think this set is very underrated. The size works great for the lengthy text on the back. There are some great names here and the set is a very collectable size. would be a great 60s era set to build.

  2. I love this set. At one time I had 50 of these cards, but I sold them during a time of economic duress. :(

  3. Were they issued in wax packs, one per or ???