In the year 1952, the largest baseball card set of the time was created by Sy Berger and Woody Gelman through the Topps Gum Company. Consisting of 407 cards, the 1952 Topps set was released in two sequences, with the first being cards 1-310 and the second being cards 311-407. Each of the cards in this set displayed an image of the player, stats, playing records, and team logos. With this descriptive display, the cards within the 1952 Topps set came to be known as the first present-day baseball cards as they represented an improvement from a lowly product to one that portrayed complete logos, colorized images, and player signature. With these progressive features, the 1952 Topps set has been deemed the most significant baseball card set developed in the post-war era. Targeted towards children, features such as stats and player information allowed them to learn about specific players while also building on reading and mathematical skills, making the art of baseball card-collecting an educational experience. Aiming to increase sales, Topps would refrain from producing cards of the more popular players, waiting to release in a later series. Because of this, the card of rookie Mickey Mantle became the most cherished and familiar card of the set.
Series One: cards 1-80
Series Two: cards 81-130
Series Three: cards 131-190
Series Four: cards 191-250
Series Five: cards 251-310
Series Six: cards 311-407
PROGRESSION OF THE TRADE
As the baseball trade picked up throughout the 1980s, the 1952 Topps set and, particularly, the Mickey Mantle card, provoked over-production. Because of the economic downturn in the 80s, Americans started to collect valuable items such as art, gold, and, surprisingly, baseball cards. Valued at tens of thousands of dollars, mint condition Mickey Mantle cards became the most sought-after card in the 1952 Topps set.
Unforeseen by all apart from the Yankees, even Sy Berger and Woody Gelman, Mickey Mantle became a legend in the world of baseball. Many collectors believe that Berger, with unsold cases of the 1952 Topps set, disposed of the cards in the Hudson River. Because of this, collectors are troubled with the thought that one of the most treasured cards in baseball history has several copies that are lost forever.
A UNIQUE SET
Despite all of the contributing factors towards its popularity (availability, appeal, and condition), the 1952 Topps set contains other unique features that add onto its allure. Many different forms of the same card are contained in this set, creating an even greater desire for these cards. In fact, because of printing errors that produced these card variations, there is a total of 552 cards that can be discovered in the 1952 Topps set. The variations, however, are low in number, making them quite difficult to find. The most valuable cards with these errors include those of Johnny Sain, Joe Page, and Frank Campos. In particular, the card variation of Frank Campos was printed with a black, rather than red star. Despite being such a minor error, this card has a value of five figures, making it an extremely sought after card for collectors. Overall, the 1952 Topps set consists of 145 variants, further adding onto the appeal and remarkable nature this set.