Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1960 Topps print run hint found

A couple of bits and pieces found while poring over microfilm of 1960 issues of The Sporting News may have provided a clue as to how many baseball cards Topps produced that year, and perhaps 1959, as well.

A feature photo on Page 38 of the May 4 issue of TSN showed a trio of kids -- plus Stan Musial. The Man was signing an autograph for one of the lads in an inset photo, while the other two boys were shown "trading 'bubble gum' players in a porch-step exchange."

The cutline indicated that Topps "will issue approximately 600 different cards this season," and that "over 250,000,000 of them will be sold in bubble gum packages."

We now know that Topps' 1960 baseball set was complete at 572 cards. If all 572 had been printed in equal numbers, that estimated print run would account for 437,063 of each card.

Of course, the semi-high numbers (#441-506) and the high numbers (#507-572) were issued in progressively smaller quantities than the first five series issued earlier in the year.

Your guess is as good as mine as to what the ratio between 1st Series and 7th Series print runs might have been. Were the early series 500,000 of each card? 600,000? More? Were the Sixth and 7th Series half the number of the earlier series? A third?

If my estimates are anywhere near correct, and if only 10% of those cards survive, that would mean there are about 50,000-60,000 "regular" 1960 Topps Mickey Mantles or Carl Yastrzemski rookies left. Mantle All-Stars would number 25,000-30,000 or so. That seems high to me. 

What's your take on the numbers?

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