MOST EXPENSIVE BASEBALL CARDS TOPPS

The Topps Company is considered the pioneer of modern baseball cards, having produced their first set of gum-packaged cardboard collectibles in 1951. Over the past 70 years, Topps has created thousands of different baseball trading cards that have become hugely popular collector items. While most common issues sell for just a few dollars, some extremely rare Topps cards have been acquired for astronomical prices by wealthy collectors. Here are details on some of the most valuable and expensive Topps baseball cards ever sold.

The undisputed most valuable Topps card is the legendary 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card. Only about 50 copies of this early Mantle rookie are known to still exist in pristine condition. In January 2021, Heritage Auctions sold one graded Mint 9 copy of the ’52 Mantle for an astounding $5.2 million, making it not only the highest price ever paid for a baseball card but for any trading card of any sport or genre. What makes the ’52 Mantle so critically scarce is that Topps production and distribution methods were still being refined in those early years.

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Coming in as the second costliest Topps card is the legendary 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner, widely considered the most valuable trading card period. Topps did not produce cards until decades later, but they bought the rights to reprint certain tobacco cards in the 1980s. In 2016, a PSA NM-MT 8 copy of the ultra-rare Wagner sold for $3.12 million. The next most expensive vintage Topps issue is a record-setting 1969 Topps Reggie Jackson rookie card that was graded PSA Gem Mint 10. In 2021, a new auction record was set when a copy sold for $2.88 million.

Moving more into the modern era of cards, a 1957 Topps Mickey Mantle that graded PSA NM-MT 8 wowed auction fever in January 2022 when it rocketed up to $2.1 million. This Mantle is the first card of “The Commerce Comet” produced by Topps and led to his baseball card becoming the most iconic in the company’s history. Another 1957 Topps card that demands top dollar is the incredibly rare Frank Thomas rookie, with just four copies known to exist in PSA 10 condition. In 2021, one such perfectly preserved rookie brought an astonishing $1.79 million at auction.

Some other noteworthy expensive Topps cards include a 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan rookie PSA 8 that sold for $900,000 in 2021. A 1968 Topps Roberto Clemente rookie PSA 9 fetched $657,300 in early 2022. A 1954 Topps Sandy Koufax rookie PSA 6.5 changed hands for $563,000 in 2021’s auction market. A 1969 Topps Willie Mays missing logo error card graded PSA GEM MINT 9.5 hammered for $555,555 in 2022. And a 1973 Topps Billy Williams sticker card PSA 9 recently went for $403,000.

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When Topps created their seminal release in 1951, they could have never imagined how their affordable packs of colorful cardboard would become prized collectibles worth hundreds of thousands or potentially millions seven decades later. Scarcity and condition are critical factors that push certain vintage and rare modern Topps issues into truly stratospheric price territory. The top cards chronicled here demonstrate just how wonderfully quirky and lucrative the baseball card collecting market has become. As long as there are nostalgic fans and wealthy investors clamoring to own these pieces of sports history, the high-dollar Topps trade should remain strong.

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