A lot of iconic hobby cards are readiliy available; they just cost a lot. But others seem to never come to market. Here is a rundown of 10 of the most challenging post-war sports cards to find in the hobby, whether due to scarcity or condition sensitivity, ignoring some of the very obscure oddball cards.
1958 Topps #66 Bobby Hull
The recognized rookie of Bobby Hull is hard to find centered. Most often they have 70/30 centering, at best.
1963 Fleer #72 Lance Alworth
The 1963 Fleer Lance Alworth is another tough card to find centered; almost 10% of the PSA graded cards have a qualifier (and those are cards people have even bothered to send in).
1960 Fleer #84 Jim Woodard
The entire 1960 Fleer set is notorious for being released in poor condition. The Woodward rookie is amongst the worst and incredibly difficult to find in Ex-Mt condition or better. Here are the three that are available on eBay right now:
1986 Fleer #121 Dominique Wilkins
This card always seems to be just a little off-center. And is one of the most frustrating cards to track down in the classic 1986 Fleer basketball set. Again, almost 10% of PSA graded cards have a qualifier when for most cards in the set that percentage is closer to 1-2%.
1976 Topps #19 George Brett
Here is what PSA says about the 1976 Brett
The 1976 Topps Brett (#19) is one of the most sought-after cards of the decade in high grade. It is considered more valuable in PSA NM-MT 8 or PSA Mint 9 than his rookie. It is very rare for a second-year card of any player to be worth more than that player’s rookie in these grades, but that is precisely the case with Brett. Why? The 1976 Topps Brett is usually found off-center from left to right, preventing many examples from achieving high-grade status. At the time of this writing, no copy has been assigned a grade of PSA Gem Mint 10 as a result.
To this day, PSA has graded 2410 of these cards, 0 PSA 10s, and 28 PSA 9s.
1979 Topps #116 Ozzie Smith.
Another oft-graded card that is a rarity in high-grade due to centering issues.
1966 OPC #1 Willie Mays
For such a popular player, good luck getting your hands on one of the under 50 of these cards have been graded by PSA, whose website hasn’t recorded a sale of one since September 2019.
1960 Topps #451 Curt Simmons
For 1960 Topps set collectors, the Simmons is one of the most challenging cards to find in nice condition. PSA, for example, has only graded 38 cards at 8 or better (without qualifiers) of just over 400 total cards. The card is almost always off-center.
1966 Topps #15 Funny Ring Checklist
This is a bit of an odd card to list, but it’s another tough card to track down. It’s a significantly tough card to grab in nice condition between the wood grain borders, markings, and off-centered cuts.
1964 Topps Hockey #80 Bobby Rousseau #92 Marcel Paille
A pair of 1964 Topps hockey cards completes our list of 10(11) tough-to-find sports cards. Both are short prints, plus there aren’t any Rousseau’s graded above an 8 by PSA, and only 1 PSA 9 of Paille exists.
The reality is that there are hundreds of cards that are tough to find. If you are an OPC baseball collector, most cards are tough to find in high-grade. If you collect a specific player, like Carl Yastrzemski, his oddball cards like a 1966 Punchout are tough to find as well, or as a Johnny Bench collector, good luck finding a 1968 Kahn’s full tab. To me, the journey in the post-war card market is half the fun of collecting. Let me know over on Twitter which cards you have been struggling to find, and maybe the community can help you track them down.