Wednesday, November 25, 2009

1959 Topps Baseball Card Set

The 1959 Topps Baseball Card Set, with 572 cards, was the largest set that Topps produced up until that time.  The innovative circle design gave the 1959 Topps baseball card set a unique look as has not been duplicated to date.

Because of this design, the 1959 Topps set seemed to feature more than its share of head shots as it was more difficult to fit in the full body shot of the player onto the card.

The best hitter of the 1950’s in the NL, Stan Musial, made his first appearance on a Topps regular card with #150.  The best hitter in the AL, Ted Williams disappeared from Topps and signed a contract with Fleer and would never appear on a contemporary Topps card again.

Card #440 Lew Burdette is shown as a left-handed pitcher.  As the story goes, the spit-ball pitcher and Warren Spahn traded gloves for the Topps photograher as a joke, but only the photo of Burdette was used by Topps.

The 1959 Topps baseball card set was issued in six series.  The first five series (cards #1-506) are fairly common and feature red and green print on the back of the cards.  The sixth series that starts at card #507 is much harder to find and more expensive to buy has distinctive red and black backs.

Dean’s Cards sells quite a few “Low Number” 1959 Topps sets, because of the expense of the sixth series.  This last series contains mostly no name players and All-Star cards.  The sixth series contains only two cards of players that ended up in the Hall-of-Fame: #514 Bob Gibson & #515 Harmon Killebrew

Another interesting characteristic is the back of the cards alternate between using white and grey cardboard.  For example, cards #1 to 110 have white backs and then starts with grey backs on #111, switches back to white backs on card #204, etc.  This trait gives the cards a very unique look when viewed in a set box.  I've never heard a good reason for why the cards are this way.

1959 Topps baseball card set contained almost 100 specialty cards that fall into five main categories:
  1. 16 team cards with checklists on the back.
  2. 17 multi-player cards
  3. 10 Baseball Thrills cards (#461 to 470) tell about great plays or events
  4. 31 Sporting News Rookie Cards numbered from card #116 to 146.  This subset started a trend that remains until today.
  5. 22 Sporting News All-Stars cards numbered #551 to 572.

Each of the subsets featured a unique design on the front and back of the card.  There also 3 special cards of Warren Giles, Ford Frick and Roy Campanella after his accident.

The 1959 Topps Baseball card set facts:
  • 572 cards, issued in 7 series
  • Card Size: 2 ½” x 3 1/2”
  • Innovations: Subsets, Rookie Cards, largest set to date
  • Rookie Cards: 24 (Norm Cash, Felipe Alou & Bill White)
  • 2 Hall-of-Fame Rookie cards: #514 Bob Gibson and #338 Sparky Anderson
  • 35 Cards of Hall-of-Famers
  • Most Expensive Card: #10 Mickey Mantle
  • Hardest to find: #514 Bob Gibson
  • Saddest Card: #550 Roy Campanella
  • HOF Player’s Worst Card: #455 Larry Doby
  • HOF Player’s Best Card: #439 Brooks Robinson

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