Here’s What Collectors Feel is the First Topps Set

In a recent conversation with a few collectors about the first Topps set, it got me thinking, what do collectors feel is the first Topps set - 1951 Topps Red and Blue Backs or 1952 Topps?

Before we dig into the survey results, let's review each of these two sets.

1951 Topps Red and Blue Backs

1951 Topps Red and Blue Backs
1951 Topps Red and Blue Backs | Source: Robert Edward Auctions

→ These cards have rounded corners, have playing-card style backs, and are a bit smaller than the standard size. The Red Backs are Set A (52 cards), while the rarer Blue Backs are Set B (52 cards). The cards were sold in 2-card packs with a piece of caramel candy and used for a game in which you shuffle the cards and pull one at random.

Shop for 1951 Topps Red and Blue Backs on eBay

1952 Topps

1952 Topps
1952 Topps | Source: Robert Edward Auctions

→ This 407-card set features the classic multi-series, stat-backed roster with dimensions a little bigger than the standard card (size became standardized in 1957). This is considered Topps' first major set and features the most iconic post-war sports card of all time - the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle.

Shop for 1952 Topps on eBay

In my experience, I've learned that some collectors discount the 1951 Topps Red and Blue Back sets as not being official releases due to their game nature, while other collectors didn't even know these sets existed. Sure, these sets aren't not nearly as popular as the 1952 Topps release but they're still a product of Topps from the year prior, which by their vary design makes them the first Topps sets.

In an effort to know what collectors think is the first official Topps release, I posed the following question in a single-question survey:

Between the 1951 Topps Red & Blue Back, and the 1952 Topps base set, which do you feel is the first Topps set?

Survey Makeup:

  • Ran from March 21-23, 2019
  • Marketed on Twitter, Facebook Groups, and Community Forums
  • Collected 50 Responses

The data shows that 70% of collectors surveyed feel the 1951 Topps Red and Blue Back sets are the first official Topps sets.

I was surprised to see 30% of collectors surveyed indicate that they felt the 1952 Topps set was the first release. I always just assumed that if you're presented with two options with stated origin dates and asked to select which came first, you'd select the older one by default. The results of this survey, however, falsifies that assumption.

The results show that some collectors feel that Topps began producing sets in 1952. The 1952 Topps set was the first set to showcase the classic multi-series, stat-backed roster of cards, which has become a staple of Topps' brand essence even in the modern era. That said, there are purist collectors who believe this to be why they feel Topps officially began in 1952.

For those collectors who, like me, take the first issue of anything to be the beginning of the associated thing, we'll automatically choose the 1951 Topps Red and Blue Backs as being the first Topps sets. Like them or not, here are some other famous firsts:

  • 1988 Score is the first Pinnacle set
  • Mickey Mantle's one and only rookie card comes from 1951 Bowman
  • Delino DeShields' one and only rookie card comes from 1988 O-Pee-Chee
  • Pedro Martinez' one and only rookie card comes from 1991 Upper Deck Final Edition

Which of these do you feel is the first Topps set?

1952 Topps Black Back 65 Enos Slaughter St Louis Cardinals Very Good Ex
1952 Topps Black Back 65 Enos Slaughter St Louis Cardinals Very Good Ex
$88.00
1952 Topps YOGI BERRA 1 1 Centering LK 10 WS CHAMP HOF
1952 Topps YOGI BERRA 1 1 Centering LK 10 WS CHAMP HOF
$429.99
1952 Topps 364 Clyde Sukeforth  PSA VG EX 4  old High Number baseball card
1952 Topps 364 Clyde Sukeforth PSA VG EX 4 old High Number baseball card
$178.00
1952 Topps 305 Paul Richards  PSA NM MT 8  Chicago White Sox baseball card
1952 Topps 305 Paul Richards PSA NM MT 8 Chicago White Sox baseball card
$183.00
Autographed 1952 Topps 54 Leo Kiely Boston Red Sox decd 1984
Autographed 1952 Topps 54 Leo Kiely Boston Red Sox decd 1984
$79.00
1952 Topps Baseball Complete Set w o Mantle  Robinson W Red Black Backs
1952 Topps Baseball Complete Set w o Mantle Robinson W Red Black Backs
$28,500.00
1952 TOPPS BOB THORPE 367 NMMT PSA 8
1952 TOPPS BOB THORPE 367 NMMT PSA 8
$829.99
1952 TOPPS CHUCK DRESSEN 377 NMMT PSA 8
1952 TOPPS CHUCK DRESSEN 377 NMMT PSA 8
$1,849.99
1952 TOPPS JAKE PITLER 395 NMMT PSA 8
1952 TOPPS JAKE PITLER 395 NMMT PSA 8
$739.99
1952 Topps 296 Red Rolfe PSA 1 PR Detroit Tigers Baseball Card TCC
1952 Topps 296 Red Rolfe PSA 1 PR Detroit Tigers Baseball Card TCC
$49.99
1952 Topps 347 Joe Adcock High Number PSA 4 VG EX GRADED CINCINNAT REDS Hi
1952 Topps 347 Joe Adcock High Number PSA 4 VG EX GRADED CINCINNAT REDS Hi
$225.00
1952 Topps 368 Ed Wright  PSA Poor 1  HIGH NUMBER vintage old baseball card
1952 Topps 368 Ed Wright PSA Poor 1 HIGH NUMBER vintage old baseball card
$83.00
1952 Topps 180 Charley Maxwell  PSA NM 7 MC  Boston Red Sox old baseball card
1952 Topps 180 Charley Maxwell PSA NM 7 MC Boston Red Sox old baseball card
$328.00
MICKEY MANTLE 1952 TOPPS REPRINT 1983 311 AUTOGRAPHED CARD SIGNED SGC VERY RARE
MICKEY MANTLE 1952 TOPPS REPRINT 1983 311 AUTOGRAPHED CARD SIGNED SGC VERY RARE
$2,499.99
1952 TOPPS 256 PETE SUDER PHILADELPHIA ATHLETICS PSA 6 EX MINT
1952 TOPPS 256 PETE SUDER PHILADELPHIA ATHLETICS PSA 6 EX MINT
$53.99
CONNIE MARRERO 1952 TOPPS HIGH 317 CONRADO VINTAGE TOUGH CARD HUGE BE
CONNIE MARRERO 1952 TOPPS HIGH 317 CONRADO VINTAGE TOUGH CARD HUGE BE
$129.60

« Previous1234567

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.