Topps is the official trading card partner of Major League Baseball, and they have produced baseball cards for over 70 years since launching in 1938. During that long history, they have created some truly unique and rare cards that hold immense value, with perhaps none rarer than 1/1 cards.

A 1/1 card signifies it is the only one of its kind ever produced by Topps. It is a true singular work of art created from the original printing plates or designs and signifies a massive amount of scarcity. While many rare Topps cards exist in limited editions like /99, /10 or /5, a 1/1 takes rarity to an unprecedented level.

One of the earliest known Topps 1/1 cards was created in the late 1980s. Due to errors in the printing process, multiple Mike Schmidt cards from 1985 were accidentally overprinted on a single card. Realizing the rarity and collector interest, Topps decided not to destroy it and instead designated it as a 1/1 card. Today it has been valued at over $100,000, showing how even decades ago Topps recognized the value in rarities.


In more modern times, the advent of printing technologies and the ability to create true singular cards has allowed Topps to intentionally produce 1/1 cards as works of art. Some notable examples include 2003 Barry Bonds which was produced as part of a contest Topps ran, a 2012 Mike Trout Draft Picks card for Trout’s rookie season, and a 2020 Pete Alonso card featuring his record-setting 53 home runs.

While the specific designs and productions of 1/1 cards can vary greatly, they usually incorporate special treatments like autographs, memorabilia, serial numbers, artwork, or one-of-a-kind designs. Topps has also experimented with unique mediums like sketches on artboards or prints on metal plates. A particularly unique 1/1 was 2018 Topps Transcendent Collection featuring pieces of a game-used Babe Ruth jersey and bat.


Unsurprisingly given their singular nature, 1/1 cards are among the rarest and most valuable Topps cards ever. Perhaps the current record holder is a 2009 Topps Triple Threads 1/1 patch card of rookie phenom Mike Trout which was pulled from a pack and sold in 2021 for an astonishing $3.93 million through Goldin Auctions, setting a new high watermark.

Other examples of exceedingly valuable 1/1 cards include a 2013 Topps Triple Threads patch card of rare 1/1 Miguel Cabrera/Alex Rodriguez dual autograph that sold for over $350,000. In 2016, a 1998 Topps Chrome Refractors Refactor 1/1 of Cal Ripken Jr. hit a new record at the time selling for just under $100,000. More recently, a 2020 Topps Transcendent Collection Juan Soto 1/1 art card realized over $450,000 at auction in early 2022.


For the ultra-wealthy or big spending collectors, owning a 1/1 Topps card of a sport’s icon has become the pinnacle trophy piece. Their monetary values routinely eclipse all but the most prized vintage cards showing just how special these singular works are perceived. And as printing technology continues to progress, Topps will likely seek out new frontiers to push rarity and artistic expression further with 1/1 designs. As long as the hobby remains strong, these truly one-of-a-kind cards will continue captivating collectors for years to come.

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