1952 Topps Baseball Cards – Value, Best Cards, and Checklist

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1952 Topps Baseball Cards

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Considered by many hobbyists to be one of the most important releases in baseball history, the 1952 Topps Baseball Card set is the pinnacle of post-war collectibles. 

It includes “The Holy Grail” of baseball cards, but why is it so special, and which cards should you be on the lookout for? 

As well as a full checklist and valuation for the set, we’ve listed three of the best 1952 Topps cards, along with lots of additional info about how and why it became so legendary.

 

1952 Topps Baseball Cards: A History Lesson

1952 Topps Baseball Cards

After dipping their toes into the market with a couple of 52-card collectibles in 1951, Topps decided to go all in the year after.

They created a massive set with 407 cards in 1952, packaging the product with bubble-gum in an effort to increase sales and interest. 

The 1952 Topps set was issued in six different, consecutively numbered releases, with the first being 1-80, and the last numbered between 311 and 407.

The latter is known as the “high-number” series, renowned for being exceptionally rare for the time.

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Each release saw fewer cards, so the higher the number, the more expensive, or at least that’s true in theory.

Topps and Bowman were vying for supremacy in the collectible market, so Topps made their cards stand out by rejigging the size, as well as adding a portrait image of the player on the front, with stats and player info located on the back.

If it sounds familiar, it’s because almost every modern set has copied the 1952 Topps edition in some shape or form. 

It paved the way for the modern hobby, and with 407 cards, it contains every big-name player from the era. 

1952 Topps Baseball Cards Value 

There are no two ways about it, most high-numbered 1952 Topps cards are valuable, especially if they’re still in a decent condition almost 70 years on.

For example, the most expensive by a solid margin is a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle with a 9 grade which sold for $2.8m in 2018, while a second 1952 Topps Mantle, graded at 8.5, sold for $1.14m in 2016.

That’s not to say that there aren’t affordable options at the low end.

Take Bill Dickey, who was a 14-time World Series champion with the Yankees.

A PSA 8 grade of his 1952 Topps was sold for $3,120 by Heritage Auctions in March 2020, which is a world away from the seven-figures you’d need to add a good Mantle copy to your collection. 

Why are higher grades so expensive?

The printing presses used as the time led to a number of errors and misprints.

Even Mantle’s cards sometimes have a darker skin tone due to oversaturation, while others have no black border around the team logo.

145 further variations have been identified, increasing the overall value of the set in recent years.

In terms of investment strategies, you could look to build a set with the higher numbers, or aim to snag some of the lower-rated (20-80) cards which are reasonably undervalued.

However, the first 15 are difficult to find in good condition, while the first series of cards had the most printing errors overall.

The 1952 collection was reprinted by Topps in 1983, although they’re worth a fraction of the price of the originals.

Topps also missed out on a few contracts in the 1980’s set, so there’s an affordable option compared to the real thing.

 

1952 Topps Baseball Best Cards

1952 Topps Baseball Best Cards

With so many cards to choose from the 1952 Topps Baseball Cards set it can be difficult to identify which are the ‘very best’.

The higher the number, the greater the likelihood of rarity, which goes some way to helping to sift through the various options. 

Error cards and other quirky variations are always interesting, and they’re always popular at auction, but pristine versions are always preferred.

Read Next: Ultimate Baseball Error Cards List

We’ve listed three of the best 1952 Topps cards below, based on career stats, interest, value, and recent auction data.

 

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Rookie Card #311 (buy on eBay)

1952 Topps Baseball Cards

One of the most iconic cards ever produced, almost any copy of the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card regularly gets over 100 bids at the auction, making it exceedingly popular.

We’ve already mentioned the high-graded versions that have sold for seven figures, but what makes it so special compared to the others in the set? 

Ironically, there were too many unsold by retailers back in ‘52, so they were returned and eventually sunk from a barge in the Hudson River to make room for releases in 1953.

It’s crazy to think that millions of dollars’ worth of Topps Mantle cards were thrown away, but it led to the scarcity we see in the present day.

The image sees Mantle with his trusty bat clutched in his hands.

Mantle’s Yankees hat and the bright background make it easy to identify, while fewer than 10 have earned a PSA 9 grade.

 

1952 Topps Jackie Robinson #312 (buy on eBay)

1952 topps baseball cards ebay jackie robinson

The next in line after Mantle numerically, second baseman Jackie Robinson’s 1952 Topps is another key option in the sixth sheet.

That makes it rarer than most, despite being one of the three double-printed 1952 Topps high numbers cards along with Mickey Mantle and Bobby Thomson.

It features a deep red background, with Robinson smiling widely with a bat strewn over his shoulder.

It may not be his rookie, but it’s notable for being the first card that Topps issued of the man who broke the color barrier in major league baseball.

Double-printing hasn’t affected the price of his 1952 Topps.

Instead, it has worked to enhance its reputation thanks to a strong association with Mantle, making it another strong investment piece to look out for.

 

1952 Topps Willie Mays #261 (buy on eBay)

1952 topps baseball cards willie mays

His RC might have been released a year earlier, but you won’t be disappointed with the first-ever Topps card to feature Willie Mays.

Part of the fifth 1952 Topps set (251-310), cards from the “semi-high” series are rarer than those that came before.

The legendary Giants outfielder was coming off an NL Rookie of the Year season in 1951 but missed most of 1952 and 53’ after being drafted by the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

He returned in 1954 to win the World Series and was a 24-time All-Star during a storied career. 

His Topps card comes with a deep purple background, as Mays stares down at the camera with a stern expression on his face.

It typically suffers from poor centering, which lowers the average grade to some extent.

However, it also helps to boost the value of cards with higher grades, making them more enticing for investors and collectors.

 

Checklist

With 407 cards altogether, the 1952 Topps collection was the largest when it first released.

When you take into account variations including printing errors, there are 552 cards in total if you’re hoping to complete one of the most difficult sets in the history of the hobby. 

The estimated cost is over $200,000, so it’s a near-impossible task for many collectors.

The base cards are numbered as follows:

  1. Andy Pafko

2 Pete Runnels RC

3 Hank Thompson

4 Don Lenhardt

5 Larry Jansen

6 Grady Hatton

7 Wayne Terwilliger

8 Fred Marsh RC

9 Bobby Hogue RC

10 Al Rosen

11 Phil Rizzuto

12 Monty Basgall RC

13 Johnny Wyrostek

14 Bob Elliott

15 Johnny Pesky

16 Gene Hermanski

17 Jim Hegan

18 Merrill Combs RC

19 Johnny Bucha RC

20 Billy Loes RC

21 Ferris Fain

22 Dom DiMaggio

23 Billy Goodman

24 Luke Easter

25 Johnny Groth

26 Monte Irvin

27 Sam Jethroe

28 Jerry Priddy

29 Ted Kluszewski

30 Mel Parnell

31 Gus Zernial

32 Eddie Robinson

33 Warren Spahn

34 Elmer Valo

35 Hank Sauer

36 Gil Hodges

37 Duke Snider

38 Wally Westlake

39 Dizzy Trout

40 Irv Noren

41 Bob Wellman RC

42 Lou Kretlow RC

43 Ray Scarborough

44 Con Dempsey RC

45 Eddie Joost

46 Gordon Goldsberry RC

47 Willie Jones

48 Joe Page – Error

48 Joe Page – Corrected

49 Johnny Sain – Error

49 Johnny Sain – Corrected

50 Marv Rickert RC

51 Jim Russell

52 Don Mueller

53 Chris Van Cuyk RC

54 Leo Kiely

55 Ray Boone

56 Tommy Glaviano

57 Ed Lopat

58 Bob Mahoney RC

59 Robin Roberts

60 Sid Hudson

61 Tookie Gilbert

62 Chuck Stobbs RC

63 Howie Pollet

64 Roy Sievers

65 Enos Slaughter

66 Preacher Roe

67 Allie Reynolds

68 Cliff Chambers

69 Virgil Stallcup

70 Al Zarilla

71 Tom Upton RC

72 Karl Olson RC

73 Bill Werle

74 Andy Hansen RC

75 Wes Westrum

76 Eddie Stanky

77 Bob Kennedy

78 Ellis Kinder

79 Jerry Staley

80 Herm Wehmeier

81 Vern Law

82 Duane Pillette

83 Billy Johnson

84 Vern Stephens

85 Bob Kuzava

86 Ted Gray

87 Dale Coogan

88 Bob Feller

89 Johnny Lipon

90 Mickey Grasso

91 Red Schoendienst

92 Dale Mitchell

93 Al Sima RC

94 Sam Mele

95 Ken Holcombe

96 Willard Marshall

97 Earl Torgeson

98 Billy Pierce

99 Gene Woodling

100 Del Rice

101 Max Lanier

102 Bill Kennedy

103 Cliff Mapes

104 Don Kolloway

105 Johnny Pramesa

106 Mickey Vernon

107 Connie Ryan

108 Jim Konstanty

109 Ted Wilks

110 Dutch Leonard

111 Peanuts Lowrey

112 Hank Majeski

113 Dick Sisler

114 Willard Ramsdell

115 Red Munger

116 Carl Scheib

117 Sherm Lollar

118 Ken Raffensberger

119 Mickey McDermott

120 Bob Chakales RC

121 Gus Niarhos

122 Jackie Jensen

123 Eddie Yost

124 Monte Kennedy

125 Bill Rigney

126 Fred Hutchinson

127 Paul Minner RC

128 Don Bollweg RC

129 Johnny Mize

130 Sheldon Jones

131 Morrie Martin RC

132 Clyde Kluttz RC

133 Al Widmar

134 Joe Tipton

135 Dixie Howell

136 Johnny Schmitz

137 Roy McMillan RC

138 Bill MacDonald

139 Ken Wood

140 Johnny Antonelli

141 Clint Hartung

142 Harry Perkowski RC

143 Les Moss

144 Ed Blake RC

145 Joe Haynes

146 Frank House RC

147 Bobby Young RC

148 Johnny Klippstein

149 Dick Kryhoski

150 Ted Beard

151 Wally Post RC

152 Al Evans

153 Bob Rush

154 Joe Muir RC

155 Frank Overmire

156 Frank Hiller RC

157 Bob Usher

158 Eddie Waitkus

159 Saul Rogovin RC

160 Owen Friend

161 Bud Byerly RC

162 Del Crandall

163 Stan Rojek

164 Walt Dubiel

165 Eddie Kazak

166 Paul LaPalme RC

167 Bill Howerton

168 Charlie Silvera RC

169 Howie Judson

170 Gus Bell

171 Ed Erautt RC

172 Eddie Miksis

173 Roy Smalley

174 Cuddles Marshall RC

175 Billy Martin RC

176 Hank Edwards

177 Bill Wight

178 Cass Michaels

179 Frank Smith RC

180 Charlie Maxwell RC

181 Bob Swift

182 Billy Hitchcock

183 Erv Dusak

184 Bob Ramazzotti

185 Bill Nicholson

186 Walt Masterson

187 Bob Miller

188 Bud Podbielan RC

189 Pete Reiser

190 Don Johnson RC

191 Yogi Berra

192 Myron Ginsberg RC

193 Harry Simpson RC

194 Joe Hatten

195 Minnie Minoso RC

196 Solly Hemus RC

197 George Strickland RC

198 Phil Haugstad RC

199 George Zuverink RC

200 Ralph Houk RC

201 Alex Kellner

202 Joe Collins RC

203 Curt Simmons

204 Ron Northey

205 Clyde King

206 Joe Ostrowski RC

207 Mickey Harris

208 Marlin Stuart RC

209 Howie Fox

210 Dick Fowler

211 Ray Coleman

212 Ned Garver

213 Nippy Jones

214 Johnny Hopp

215 Hank Bauer

216 Richie Ashburn

217 George Stirnweiss

218 Clyde McCullough

219 Bobby Shantz

220 Joe Presko RC

221 Granny Hamner

222 Hoot Evers

223 Del Ennis

224 Bruce Edwards

225 Frank Baumholtz

226 Dave Philley

227 Joe Garagiola

228 Al Brazle

229 Gene Bearden

230 Matt Batts

231 Sam Zoldak

232 Billy Cox

233 Bob Friend RC

234 Steve Souchock RC

235 Walt Dropo

236 Ed Fitz Gerald

237 Jerry Coleman

238 Art Houtteman

239 Rocky Bridges RC

240 Jack Phillips RC

241 Tommy Byrne

242 Tom Poholsky RC

243 Larry Doby

244 Vic Wertz

245 Sherry Robertson

246 George Kell

247 Randy Gumpert

248 Spec Shea

249 Bobby Adams

250 Carl Erskine

251 Chico Carrasquel

252 Vern Bickford

253 Johnny Berardino

254 Joe Dobson

255 Clyde Vollmer

256 Pete Suder

257 Bobby Avila

258 Steve Gromek

259 Bob Addis RC

260 Pete Castiglione

261 Willie Mays

262 Virgil Trucks

263 Harry Brecheen

264 Roy Hartsfield

265 Chuck Diering

266 Murry Dickson

267 Sid Gordon

268 Bob Lemon

269 Willard Nixon

270 Lou Brissie

271 Jim Delsing

272 Mike Garcia

273 Erv Palica

274 Ralph Branca

275 Pat Mullin

276 Jim Wilson RC

277 Earl Wilson

278 Allie Clark

279 Bud Stewart

280 Cloyd Boyer

281 Tommy Brown SP

282 Birdie Tebbetts SP

283 Phil Masi SP

284 Hank Arft SP

285 Cliff Fannin SP

286 Joe DeMaestri RC SP

287 Steve Bilko SP

288 Chet Nichols RC SP

289 Tommy Holmes

290 Joe Astroth SP

291 Gil Coan SP

292 Floyd Baker SP

293 Sibby Sisti SP

294 Walker Cooper SP

295 Phil Cavarretta

296 Red Rolfe

297 Andy Seminick SP

298 Bob Ross RC SP

299 Ray Murray RC SP

300 Barney McCosky SP

301 Bob Porterfield

302 Max Surkont RC

303 Harry Dorish

304 Sam Dente

305 Paul Richards

306 Lou Sleater RC

307 Frank Campos RC

308 Luis Aloma

309 Jim Busby

310 George Metkovich

311 Mickey Mantle

312 Jackie Robinson

313 Bobby Thomson

314 Roy Campanella

315 Leo Durocher

316 Davey Williams RC

317 Connie Marrero

318 Hal Gregg RC

319 Rube Walker RC

320 John Rutherford RC

321 Joe Black RC

322 Randy Jackson RC

323 Bubba Church

324 Warren Hacker

325 Bill Serena

326 George Shuba RC

327 Archie Wilson RC

328 Bob Borkowski RC

329 Ike Delock RC

330 Turk Lown RC

331 Tom Morgan RC

332 Tony Bartirome RC

333 Pee Wee Reese

334 Wilmer Mizell RC

335 Ted Lepcio RC

336 Dave Koslo

337 Jim Hearn

338 Sal Yvars RC

339 Russ Meyer

340 Bob Hooper

341 Hal Jeffcoat

342 Clem Labine RC

343 Dick Gernert RC

344 Ewell Blackwell

345 Sammy White RC

346 George Spencer RC

347 Joe Adcock

348 Bob Kelly RC

349 Bob Cain

350 Cal Abrams

351 Alvin Dark

352 Karl Drews

353 Bobby Del Greco RC

354 Fred Hatfield RC

355 Bobby Morgan

356 Toby Atwell RC

357 Smoky Burgess

358 John Kucab RC

359 Dee Fondy RC

360 George Crowe RC

361 Bill Posedel

362 Ken Heintzelman

363 Dick Rozek RC

364 Clyde Sukeforth RC

365 Cookie Lavagetto

366 Dave Madison RC

367 Bob Thorpe RC

368 Ed Wright RC

369 Dick Groat RC

370 Billy Hoeft RC

371 Bobby Hofman

372 Gil McDougald RC

373 Jim Turner RC

374 Al Benton RC

375 Jack Merson RC

376 Faye Throneberry RC

377 Chuck Dressen MG

378 Les Fusselman RC

379 Joe Rossi RC

380 Clem Koshorek RC

381 Milton Stock RC

382 Sam Jones RC

383 Del Wilber RC

384 Frankie Crosetti

385 Herman Franks RC

386 Eddie Yuhas RC

387 Billy Meyer MG

388 Bob Chipman

389 Ben Wade RC

390 Rocky Nelson RC

391 Ben Chapman

392 Hoyt Wilhelm RC

393 Ebba St. Claire RC

394 Billy Herman

395 Jake Pitler

396 Dick Williams RC

397 Forrest Main RC

398 Hal Rice

399 Jim Fridley RC

400 Bill Dickey

401 Bob Schultz RC

402 Earl Harrist RC

403 Bill Miller RC

404 Dick Brodowski RC

405 Eddie Pellagrini

406 Joe Nuxhall RC

407 Eddie Mathews RC

 

1952 Topps Baseball Cards Final Take

Considering the age of the cards and their innovative nature, it’s easy to see why they’re so expensive in the modern-day.

Most people had no idea that the cards would be worth so much in the future, while the gum packaged with the cards was also known to cause damage if it was left together for too long. 

After all, they were originally distributed in 1c and nickel packs, with the latter being tougher to find in the present. (A high-grade unopened pack is worth roughly $15,000 today.)

Everything from the style to the era is dripping in nostalgia, making for one of the best baseball sets ever to be released.

With 407 cards in the set, an ever-increasing rarity, incredible prices, the inclusion of signatures along with player stats and info, and beautiful, colorful cards, it’s no wonder that the 1952 Topps set is highly regarded in modern collecting circles. 

With the benefit of hindsight, the gamble clearly paid off for Topps, and it’s unlikely that the hobby would be anywhere near as popular without the release of their classic 1952 set. 

It’s an expensive endeavor if you plan to collect them all, but you’d expect nothing less considering it’s one of the most important baseball sets in the history of the sport.

 

CTA – A classic collection with some of the best baseball cards in the hobby, you can’t go wrong with any of the 1952 Topps options we’ve mentioned! If you’re in the mood for something more recent, here’s three of the best baseball cards from the 1980s

You might be interested in the rise and fall and rise again of baseball cards, or the best vintage T206 cards for further investment options

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