Saturday, August 22, 2020

We're Only In It For the Money

Back at it kids-today we pick up the scarce series pricing saga circa 1977 in part two of our ongoing Saturday study. This will be a very TTS-centric post as I only have that publication's run and a clutch of Mike Bondarenko's Baseball Card News (BCNissues at my disposal for the late 70's. In reality, there wasn't much else out there at the time other than Sports Collectors Digest and maybe Sport Fan (which was about to merge with BCN anyway) as other long term hobby periodicals withered away one by one.

February 1977, which brought us an issue of The Trader Speaks that I think was a special giveaway given how many copies of it I've seen and owned over the years, has a Jack Wallin ad that priced 1952 Topps cards like so:

#1-80        75 cents
#81-250    50 cents
#251-310  $1.00

No highs though, rats! Things would pick up quickly though on the 52 highs (and a lot of others) and it was all due to a name we still know today, Dr. James Beckett.

Beckett had a survey form appear in the centerfold of the January TTS (he had solicited this information in other 'zines as well and at various collector conventions) and the results, which also included tabulation from collector mailings, appeared in the April and May issues.  It's the April results that are of interest here (VG-EX pricing was the standard condition across the entire survey):

Given the lack of prior scarce series pricing information for most Topps sets in TTS ads and elsewhere, earlier Beckett results from the collector mailings and convention must have informed some of the survey questions. Note too the continuance of the error involving the fourth 1952 series ending at #252!

The above results have the first indications I can trace of widespread diverging series pricing for Topps Baseball. It's certainly the first mention of the 1966 and '67 highs I can find. This also appears to be the very beginning of specific series pricing tranches, which would wax, then wane (except for the truly tough ones) somewhat over the ensuing forty-plus years. While we now know the 1968 and 1969 sets had differing degrees of high number difficulty (the former being slightly tough, the latter not really with the customary pullback not affecting the last series too much) and the 1970-72 highs are a fair bit harder than say the 68's, the demand had not yet outstripped the available supply.  Indeed there are multiple ads in most 1977 TTS issues offering vending boxes and cases from those years and I suspect Topps was clearing out warehouse space in Duryea at the time.

April and May TTS issues also brought forth, in apparent arrangement with CCC, Don Lepore ads selling 500 count 1967 vending boxes for $20, with 100 highs, presumably still from vending, going for $20, a 5 X premium that roughly mirrored the Beckett results. I will also say the 1957 scarce 4th series and 1967 high number pricing seems to have been a bit ahead of Beckett's findings from the ads I've seen in these two "results" issues.  And I mean by maybe another 25-30% for the 57's and 50-60% for the 67's.  20 and 10 year anniversaries may have played into that, not sure, but both set's high numbers seemed to be having a hobby moment at the time.

Baseball Card News, in their July 4, 1977 issue, had an ad from Chicago's Sports Collectors Store with 1972 highs priced at 15 cents apiece, vs. a lowly 6 cents for anything below the last series. This issue also featured a Don Lepore ad with 12,000 card cases of 1969, 1970 and 1971, series not indicated but clearly not highs at those prices. The 1967 highs he had offered only six weeks or so prior were nowhere to be found.

In August of 1977, Card Collectors Company ran an ad in The Trader Speaks offering the 1972 high numbers in bulk. 1,000 assorted for $120 or you could nail 10,000 assorted for only $900, so clearly there were large amounts of vending still out there. And then this dropped the next month, which after noting on the first page (not shown here but which consisted, I am not kidding, mostly of 1951 Red Back cards) that they had received a "great response" to the August ad, presented the following for sale:

OK, so clearly some massive amount of old Topps inventory popped up at the CCC, supporting my warehouse dumping theory.  No 1963, 1964 or 1966 vending cases in the run from 1962 but those high numbers at 5,000 cards per batch-ye gods!!

The math works out like so per card (heck, I'll do all the high series calculating for ya) on the 5,000 counts, with low series pricing in parenthesis where possible and factoring in the offered 10% reduction:

1962: 17.55 cents (4.5 cents)
1965: 14.4 cents (just over 3.5 cents)
1967: 14.4 cents
1968: 9 cents (about 2.14 cents)
1969: 9 cents (just under 2 cents)
1970: 4.68 cents
1971: 4.68 cents (just over 1.5 cents)
1972: 6.3 cents (1.35 cents)

And how about some assorted 1970's Basketball or even older Football at a penny a throw-yikes!  CCC would also repeat the case offerings in the next month's issue.This pricing structure really shows high numbers from the 60's and 70's were just starting to gain differential pricing mere months after the first Beckett results were made public.  Coinkidink?

A truncated version of the CCC TTS ad with the same case and large lot pricing ran in the August 1, 1977 BCN and not to be outdone (kidding) John Metzger, Jr. had an ad in the same issue offering the 1972 complete high number series in Ex-Mt  for $21, or a hair under 16 cents a card. There was clearly ample unopened product floating around.

A buy ad from Tony Spaneo in the October TTS offered $6 each for 1952 highs (commons) and $75 for the Mantle, all in Ex-Mt.  Dickey and Mathews were worth $25 and Jackie Robinson and Campanella $20, so the Mantle pricing had clearly eclipsed other '52 HOF highs as the World Series approached. Bad timing for Mr. Spaneo though as Lew Lipset was offering $10 for common 1952 highs and $35 for the Campy in the same issue.

Fast forward to The Trader Speaks in December of '77 and Lew Lipset himself reported some auction results from a couple of competitors.  1952 highs in roughly VG-EX were described as bringing "$14-$15 each. It's worth noting that what we now know as the Philly Show had about 4,700 attendees at their September offering, which was a tremendously huge amount for the time. TTS offered their own price guide as part of their "Checklist" book as 1977 ended, which added to the data collectors and dealers could also glean from The Sports Collectors Bible (2nd edition, also issued at year's end) and the Stirling Sports Card Catalog, which had been available since July-things were really starting to hop!

February (and March) 1978  brought remnants of the great high number case sale from the Card Collectors Company in TTS (and more indications of their somewhat infamous 1975 warehouse fire):

In addition to losing the 10% discount, note that full cases of high numbers for most years between 1962 and 1972 had dissipated, leaving only the 1,000 count offers, some of which had their pricing adjusted nominally (except for 1962 highs which had jumped almost 40% with the prior discount gone). Some low number cases had also seen their last at CCC. I have to think most cases had been sold to dealers as the pricing and volume was pretty robust for the time, even given what incredible bargains these lots were then. Indeed, some non-high number cases showed up in a Don Lepore ad a couple of months earlier.

February also brought another Lew Lipset price report on 1952 high numbers, as follows:

VG: $15-$18
EX: $16-$22

The April '78 issue of TTS had some sad news to share, namely the death of Woody Gelman (which occurred on February 9th), which would lead to a profound change at the Card Collectors Company not long after, although he had been steadily stepping back from his company.  The same issue also brought the results of the 2nd Beckett price survey and if it feels like a torch had been passed, I could not disagree. VG-EX price results for the five scarce series being tracked as part of this series on the blog were as follows:

1952: roughly 10% increases to the low series cards (still going #1-252 for the first four though), highs had gone up $2 to $10 from the year prior.

1957: roughly 10% increases as well for all but the tough 4th series, which went up from 49 cents to 58 cents.

1966: lows had no change but the highs went from 23 cents to 27 cents, which would surpass the 67's for the first time that I can find.

1967: lows unchanged, highs actually down 3 cents from 1977's .28 - don't forget there were no 1966 high numbers offered in the Card Collectors blowout ads over the prior year or so, but they had 67's.

1972: lows still at four cents (as were all cards in the first survey) but highs were broken out now at 12 cents each.

Beckett noted 343 collectors had responded to the 1977 survey, with 201 providing updates for this one. Also of note in this issue, Lew Lipset offering $15 for Ex-Mt 1952 highs.

May brought another Card Collectors Co. ad to TTS:

Following a nice but brief tribute to Woody Gelman, we can see only scant remains of the high number vending case hoard were still on hand with pricing remaining almost static.

You want the skinny on the Mick?  You got him, courtesy of Lew Lipset in the June TTS, where tracked several recent sales of 1952's #311:
  • $230 - high bid (scrape on border noted)
  • $245 - high bid (VG)
  • $200 - St. Louis Convention ("less than excellent")
  • $365 - Lew says April 1978 TTS auction but I can't find the ad (condition unknown)
  • $500 - private sale (Ex-Mt)
$500 is the highest price I have seen to this point in time. Also worth noting from this issue-Card Collectors Co. was out of 1967 highs (72's as well). The hobby was really heating up and almost 7,000 people attended the spring Philly show, with 136 dealers there to sell 'em everything they possibly could.

Speaking of Lipset, in the July 1978 TTS, issued in advance of a major convention to be held at Shea Stadium the following month, he was offering $18.50 apiece for the 1952 highs and offering to buy Micks at $250, all in the usual Ex-Mt condition. Then in the August issue (Lew was really starting to monitor prices and he would eventually launch a newsletter that really delved into that subject) he noted an average price of just over $28 for Ex-Mt '52 highs. Meanwhile Card Collectors Co. continued with 12,000 count low number cases in their ad (1968-1976) indicating they were still getting direct feeds from Topps, likely after the respective prior season's returns had come back to home to roost. The highs were down to lots of 100 or 1,000 for 1962, 1965, 1968, 1970 & 1971.

A retrospective in the June 1980 issue of The Trader Speaks indicated a record sale in September of the Mantle at $1,750 while the October TTS brought news in Lipset's column of a pricing frenzy surrounding the 1967 Topps Brooks Robinson card, selling in the $35-$60 dollar range at the time, a huge amount for a late 60's card. Lew correctly pointed out the card was as obtainable as any other in the high numbers but that the pricing was speculative.  I believe the commotion concerned a much publicized vending box or two being opened at a convention (possibly in 1977) and yielding, if memory serves, only a single Brooksie.  Of course this was just a random box with somewhat typical Topps collation but it still throws off the pricing of this card today.

Speaking of 67's, a Card Collectors Co. ad in the same issue offered varying amount of mint highs from 1958-1971 but there were no 1967's to be had.  Don Lepore, though had some: 73 different, all mint, for $50 (68.5 cents each), or 100 assorted with roughly four of each number at 25 cents apiece.  He even had what looks like two vending boxes for $300, or 30 cents a throw. Those 1967 overprints were already worming their way into the hobby! And 1972 highs were 16.5 cents each in bulk.

Meanwhile, Lipset's ad makes it seem like he was holding back his 52 highs (smart man). And what to make of Evans Clagett, offering full cases of all series from 1971-77 Topps, best offer or trade? Clearly you could still buy such cards in bulk but those days were ending.

Lepore had some pricing of interest in his November 1978 TTS ad. 1,000 assorted 1967 highs with good differentiation that worked out to 32.5 cents per card.  If you could handle a little more duplication then it was 25 cents a pop. 1972 highs were up to 17.5 cents apiece if you bought 1,000 at a clip, or you could buy the entire series for $35. Card Collectors Co. had no 67's but 50 1966 highs worked out to 28 cents each. These were all advertised as mint by both dealers.

The TTS holiday issue for 1978 brought readers of The Trader Speaks a truly stupendous ad from the Card Collectors Company. An auction brought forth wonders such as a 1955 Topps Baseball Stamp of Don Mossi (earliest reference to these I've seen), some Rookie Banquet programs and a wrapper for the ridiculously rare 1970 Baseball Booklets standalone issue as Topps tried to recycle the inserts from that year as a test. But mint high numbers in quantity were back! 1968's and 1970-72's were offered at set sale pricing, with 1972 highs fetching the now ubiquitous 17.5 cents each.

And to top it off, a reprint of the 1956 Bowman Baseball designs, which set was aborted once Topps took over that storied subsidiary of Connelly Containers in February 1956, was made available. Oh yeah, Don Lepore had now formally joined forces with Richard Gelman at the CCC-crazy!

Lew Lipset in the same issue was offering EX 1952 Topps highs at $30 per card and he had a range of conditions available as well if you wanted to settle for lesser examples. The thrust of The Trader Speaks ads in general had clearly moved into the Topps and Bowman realms during 1978 and that trend would continue.  Not quite speculation yet but a "buy and hold" environment was developing.

Speaking of Lipset, January of 1979 saw him offering a full high number series of 1952 Topps with a minimum bid of $3,800! He was also selling a lot of fifty one 1957 scarce series cards for $38, or 33 for $25. A Card Collectors Co. ad in the same issue of TTS had many wondrous offerings but I'll stick with 1957 scarce series (50 for $40), 1966 highs (10 for $10) and 1967's (a bargain 50 for only $30), indicating interest in the 66's was taking off.

The March 1979 issue of The Trader Speaks had some interesting ads: an "Ex-Mt w/ staple mark on face" '52 Mantle had a minimum bid of $300 in an auction offered by V.S. Trocino, who looks to have lived quite near Woody Gelman's neighborhood. An unrelated ad in the same issue had 67 highs at $3.50 for ten. April's edition of Lipset's column brought news of an Ex-Mt auction hammer (in February) of $680 on a 1952 Mantle, noted to be a record price. Lipset also penned what I think is the first reference to the now infamous 1952 3rd series gray backs and while those are not our quarry here, it's interesting to note he sources them to Canada, which may or may not have been the case, most likely the latter.

Jumping to May, $1.50 would get you 1957 scarce series commons from The Sports Collectors Store and Tony Galovich, a name familiar to many of us "mature" collectors, was offering $550 for a 52 Mantle in Ex-Mt as the race to four figures and beyond for the hobby's eventual second most iconic card was going full blast.

As for the hobby's most iconic card, George Lyons reported in the same issue of TTS that four collectors had uncovered the five card "proof" strip that contains the T206 Wagner (and seems to have been in the great shortstop's possession when he died). I will note, that while it is irrelevant to my interest in the pricing of Topps cards through the years, this strip is not necessarily a proof but also is not necessarily from a production sheet. (UPDATE 8/25/20-I am advised it is indeed a proof).

Just for fun, here is the strip (note that it seems each card's actual edge can be seen, although lines could have been added by the lithographer to simulate same):

Also very noticeably in this issue (of 80 pages no less), buy and sell ads for wrappers were popping up and reading in hindsight you just get the feeling things were exponentially exploding.  I was only a year and a half or so from re-entering the fray at the time this issue came out but from mid-1977 on the excitement must have been through the (stadium) roof.

The June TTS brought a Lipset ad (5.2 pages no less!) with 66 different 66 highs for....$65 (Lew, that's a whiff!), so essentially $1 apiece.  And in August, amidst an impressive offering of Topps test issues and packs, Card Collectors Co. trotted out a TTS ad with 1966 highs among others. Check it out:

The 66's seem like they came from vending and what's up with that 1965 high number pricing?  So 20 cents each for the 66's, with too much of a range to determine the 67's mint price. The September TTS had some mid-series 57's at $1.25 each, as an upward trend revealed itself. In October Lew Lipset stated that he was "totally convinced" that the scarcity of the 1967 Brook Robinson and all the high numbers that year was a "complete sham" after an $80 minimum bid for one wasn't reached at a Southern California Convention. That same convention saw the 52 Mantle go for $600 in VG-Ex. Then in November Lew reported that common 1952 highs were at $55 apiece!

Want more Lew?  In the December TTS he reported the 1967 Brooks Robinson card was half as available as other high numbers but continued opining the pricing structure of the series was still a sham-go figure! Meanwhile, 1966 highs were almost non-existent in ads and auctions.

The first (dare I say landmark) Sport-Americana Price Guide came out in 1979, authored and compiled by Denny Eckes and Dr. James Beckett. Now referred to as the "Beckett Guide" it was anything but originally as the contributions of Eckes, who owned a large card shop called Den's Collectors Den in Laurel, Maryland which frequently advertised in the major hobby publications, were vital.  Their pricing of the various series and cards we are analyzing here gave us this:

1952 Highs: Mint $34, VG-EX $27. Other commons, depending on series, were between $1.05 and $1.50 in Mint with the Semi-Highs in that grade clocking in at $4.
1952 Mantle: Mint $500, VG-EX $375.
1957 Mids: Mint $1, VG-EX 70 cents. Other commons, depending on series were between 26 and 30 cents in Mint.
1966 Highs:Mint 42 cents and 30 cents in VG-EX vs. 11 cents in Mint for all other commons.
1966 Perry: Mint $3.50, VG-EX $2.50. This was consistent with other Hall of Famers in the high series.
1967 Highs: Mint 46 cents and 33 cents in VG-EX vs. 10 cents in Mint for all other commons.
1967 B. Robinson: Mint $50, VG-EX $40 The most expensive card in the entire set by a factor of 10 (the Seaver Rookie, another denizen of the nosebleed section, was $5 in Mint, Mantle, in a lower series, was $4.50 in that grade).
1972 Highs: Mint 20 cents and 15 cents in VG-EX vs. 8 cents in Mint for all other commons.

Note the spread between VG-EX and Mint was not all that much at this point.

And then, in the January 1980 issue of The Trader Speaks, Dan Dischley started a "Superstar Price Guide" with the idea it would be a recurring feature to keep up with pricing, initially through 1959's issues, since the major guides came out yearly at best. Other publications had sporadically tried to run pricing results but he was a man ahead of his times- we also get to see the 1952 Topps Mantle priced at a very gaudy $2,000 in Ex-Mt!  The 1951 Mantle and Mays cards, together with the '49 Bowman Paige and then 1952 Topps cards of Mathews, Mays Campanella and Jackie Robinson in the $300's, were the next closest superstars to the Mick. The run-up was on!

February was even hotter: $2,250 TTS guide price for the '52 Topps Mick and his high number counterpart Mathews hit $400, as did the Mantle rookie in 1951 Bowman. 1952 Topps highs in general were coming out of the woodwork, no doubt to to the robust valuations being assigned to them. Lew Lipset threw in the towel on his monthly column in light of the TTS price guide this month as well; the hobby was no longer solely in the hands of those who had guided it in the 70's.  "POR" (Price On Request) started appearing in some ads around this time on the hottest of cards.  The 52 Mantle was case #1 in this regard but the '67 Brooks Robinson also got the treatment.

Not everybody was on the POR bandwagon though-Card Collectors Co.. had a 52 Mantle in Mint (yeah, right) condition for a whopping $3,000! They also pulled their Brooks Robinson cards from an individually priced sale of 67 highs, where commons were going for 50 cents each (this steady pricing was seen elsewhere as well).  Meanwhile Hall's Nostalgia had a mint (there's that identifier again) '67 Robinson for $160 and wanted a $2,300 minimum bid for a 1952 Topps Mantle they were auctioning in "solid ex".

March TTS had 1960's Superstar Pricing with Brooks Robinson's 1967 card leading the decade at $125 (again, Ex-Mt).  No mention of the allegedly short-printed 1966 Gaylord Perry card was made though, a signal I've been looking for amidst all the noise. Meanwhile, April brought Superstar Pricing of $2,750 for Mr. Mantle-yikes! It also introduced Common and Rare/Scarce Series pricing: 1952 highs at $65 and 1957 mid's at $1.75. And in a big twist, Card Collectors Co. ran a buy ad, ranging from pre-war to 1973, although mostly they wanted Topps sets from 1957 on; guess all those blowout sales really emptied out the old garage (and probably the Topps warehouse since I think that's where all the full cases got drop shipped from)!  Sample buy prices for 1952 Topps to give you an idea of series breakdowns:

#1-250: $1.25 (fourth series end point is correct!)
#251-310: $4.50
#311-407: 35.00 (he was selling them a month later for $65)
#311 Mantle (Mt): $2,400

The Mantle price was $200 more than the offers for the three "holy grail" 1951 Major League All Star cards of Konstanty, Roberts & Stanky in Ex-Mt.  They are the possibly rarest Topps cards of the era (the "Small" 1955 Hocus Focus highs may be just as tough) so this was a sure sign Mantle's '52 card was galloping away from the pack. In addition TTS weighed in at 100 pages this month, their biggest issue ever and it was stuffed to the rafters with auctions and sales.  The frequency of articles was way down to accommodate all the dealer ads as baseball season got underway.

May started out just as hot, as the 1967 Brooks Robinson was priced at $150 in the Dischley Superstar Matrix and 1966 and '67 highs were priced at $1.25 and $1.50 respectively. Articles started appearing in a much tinier font in this issue than had been used previously. The Trader Speaks had just about maxed out its page count! 1957 scarce series commons made an appearance in ad from Joe Bratony at $2.75 apiece in NM-Mt (an early adopter of this ridiculous grade it seems); another ad toward the back from Mark Angert and Al Entin had 66 highs at 20 for $30, in what looks like average NM condition. Also, plastic sheet pricing wars were breaking out, indicating just how many collectors needed ways to store their cards.

TTS in June had the 1966 Gaylord Perry as a POR along with the 67 B. Robinson in an ad from Bluechip Sportcard. Perry was still very much an active major-leaguer so it doesn't seem like HOF run-up pricing. Generally, 1966 common highs were starting to show up in ads and auctions, bringing about $1.50 vs $1 for the 67's, so maybe the 66's were getting a little more love. A spare $3,250 would get you a NM 1952 Topps Mantle from Jim Cumpton.  I dunno Jim, got a picture? An ad for the first National Sports Collectors Convention reared its head as well.

The Trader Speaks in July brought a massive seven page ad from the Sports Collectors Store and some hints can be found on 1966 and '67 pricing.  A 1966 #598 Perry (anywhere from VG-Mint but "generally" mint) was listed for $15 and the highs were $2 a throw.  1967 brought our old "POR" friend out for #600 B. Robinson and $1.75 a pop for highs. Neither year's high pricing was showing any signs of SP awareness though. 1952 Mantle pricing elsewhere in the issue seemed to be holding steady at $3,250 in Ex-Mt and it's worth noting an absolute riot of 50's and 60's Topps cards being offered throughout the issue in multi-page ads. Also of note, what may have been the first ad from the eventual "King of Commons" Bill Henderson; we'll soon see if he was on top of SP pricing.

As the summer wore on, the Mick gained in stature with $2,500 Superstar pricing in the August TTS (another 100 page issue), although the lower graded Mantles in this issue seemed to be falling behind when accounting for price spreads between grades. The pricing on 1952 high numbers dropped to $60 while 57's remained steady at $1.75 for the scarce series cards. Reverse auctions also popped up in a few ads, indicating maybe some saturation was occurring in the hobby.

Then, the unthinkable happened when the October TTS Superstar Pricing grid (50's and 60's alternated monthly) had the 1952 Mantle nosediving to $1,750! I suspect this was due to a find of several partial 1952 high number sheets that walked into the Baltimore convention in June. 

(excerpts copyright The Sport Americana Baseball Card Price Guide, Number 3, Dr. James Beckett and Dennis W. 
Eckes, 1981, Co-published by Den's Collectors Den, Laurel MD and Edgewater Book Company, Lakewood, OH)

While not fully showing the 100 card array, it was apparently possible to piece enough together to determine cards 311 (Mantle, 312 (Jackie Robinson) and 313 (Bobby Thomson) had been double printed.  I doubt any attention was paid to the idea (then unknown) that a full sheet of 1952's would consist of 200 cards, with each 100 card half (or "slit" in the lithographer's parlance) being what we think of as a traditional uncut sheet then and now. However given the observable differences of these three examples and no others in the series, it seems like the DP designations were correctly assigned 40 years ago.

Elsewhere in that issue Card Collectors Co. offered a complete, mint 4th series from 1957 for $400 as the TTS guide had them up slightly at $2.00 each but downward pricing continued in The Trader Speaks November issue, where the "Grid" had the 1967 Brooks Robinson's reduced to $100:

Those $1.50 prices were the same two months prior as well, when the '66 highs had caught up with the 67's.  And the 1972 nosebleed's (along with the prior two year's) were steady at 25 cents per card, unchanged from their debut pricing in April. In December however, the 1952 Topps Mantle descended even further to a mere $1,450 and '52 highs had shrunk down to $48 in the guide. The landmark 1952 set had overheated! Indeed a VG Mick in one ad was offered at $850 and Bill Henderson had common '52 highs at $5 each, EX or better condition. Dan Dischley himself was offering 1952 high number commons at $40 in mint condition, in a huge conflict of interest! 1957's 4th series continued to increase though, now at $2.25 per card per TTS.

As for the second Sport-Americana Guide, it yielded the following in 1980:

1952 Highs: Mint $55, VG-EX $44. Other commons, depending on series, were between $2 and $2.50 in Mint with the Semi-Highs in that grade clocking in at $8.25.
1952 Mantle: Mint $2,500, VG-EX $1,800.
1957 Mids: Mint $1.80, VG-EX $1.35 cents. Other commons, depending on series were between 30 and 35 cents in Mint.
1966 Highs:Mint $1.80 and 80 cents in VG-EX vs. 12 cents in Mint for all other commons.
1966 Perry: Mint $10.00, VG-EX $8.00. This was consistent with McCovey in the high series as the other HOF subject, Robin Roberts, had dropped to $6.
1967 Highs: Mint $1.50 and $1.25 cents in VG-EX However, the first appearance of Double Print pricing that I've seen started here, with a notation commons (40 or so identified) only sold at 50 cents apiece in Mint. All other commons were priced at 12 cents in Mint.
1967 B. Robinson: Mint $120, VG-EX $100. The most expensive card in the entire set still but the Seaver Rookie had impressively bounced up to $45 in Mint.
1972 Highs: Mint 22 cents and 16 cents in VG-EX vs. 9 cents in Mint for all other commons, save the Semi-Highs which were 14 cents each in that grade.

This will conclude part two of this series as more and more, pricing was determined by statistical analysis and not "feel" as page counts started to dwindle in The Trader Speaks as 1981 dawned; indeed the dimensions of the magazine itself would shrink radically come July of that year as Sports Collectors Digest and some other "tabloid" publications really came to the fore, not to mention the slick, newstand-worthy Baseball Cards magazine.  Part three will be much more focused on how the monthly and annual price guides started recording and driving prices in the hobby, which very much reflected a rapidly shifting substrate.


John Bateman said...

There is so much here to digest, it will take a while to figure out a method to the madness. A possible explanation to the price increases the US economy grew 4-5 percent from 1976 to 1979 and then negatively contracted in 1980. Another reason there may have been more interest in cards was Baseball Free Agency in 1977 and the announcement of astronomical new salary figures. There may have also been some nefarious acts committed by some dealers at this time also.

By 1980 the 52 Mantle was in a league of his own, and Topps cemented the 52 set legend with its historic announcement of reprinting the set in late 1982. I think I paid $50 for the reprint set in 1983.

John Bateman said...

There 2 possible factors that helped increased card prices during this time. From 1976 to 1979 the economy grew at 4-5% until tanking to 0 in 1980. Also, Baseball Free Agency put new spotlight on the sport where the players were signing astronomical contracts.

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