The 1969 Topps Deckle Edge set is, possibly, the most condition sensitive set, straight out of the pack, ever made. Of the 7065 cards graded by PSA, there are zero 10s, and only 56 PSA 9s (and 27 of those have qualifiers).
According to PSA:
The 1969 Topps Baseball “Deckle Edge” set consists of 33 cards, each measuring 2-1/4″ by 3-1/4″, that were inserted into packs of the 1969 regular issue. The set derives its name from the scalloped edges. The front of each piece bears a black-and-white likeness of a ballplayer, with a small rectangle on the reverse displaying the athlete’s name and the card number. Player highlights include Rod Carew, Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays and Carl Yastrzemski. The set contained two highly desirable variations: one identifying Jim Wynn rather than Hoyt Wilhelm, and one identifying Joe Foy in lieu of Rusty Staub.
Deckle Edge cards were exclusive to 1969 Topps Series Three packs.
The 1969 Topps Checklist referred to the cards, and their facsimile autographs, as a Special Autographed Photo. The wax box and wrappers called them real autograph photos.
Three factors contribute to poor grades; centering imperfections, print impressions, and chipped edges.
The miscut on the Joy Foy card below is typical for the series.
While the Jim Fregosi pictured below looks to be in high-grade condition, on closer inspection, the PSA 5 grade comes from surface marks from the printing press, which automatically made a NrMt card roll back to an Ex grade or lower.
Lastly, the backs of the Deckle Edge cards are white, the cuts were made poorly, left chipping, and resulted in an additional grading downgrade. The Carl Yastrzemski looks to be in ExMt condition on the front, but the back shows a lot of chipping.
The #1 rated set is on the PSA Set Registry is Golf Pro Greg’s All-Time Best Deckles. He says:
Toughest Vintage Odd Ball Set of All- Time!!! Trimming impossible on these 1969 Vintage inserts. 99.9% were PSA 7 or less coming straight out of the pack. Notoriously off-center with surface marks from the printing process and not to mention the impossible edges. ALWAYS chipped on the back. Only 32 PSA 9’s as of 10/01/07 merely 1.8% of all the cards submitted!!! AND will Never See a 10!! Toughest set of all-time???….Yes!!! is my opinion!!!!
He makes a great point about trimming. Altering a 1969 Topps Deckle Edge card would be downright impossible.
You can purchase a fully graded set in Ex (PSA 5/6) condition for ~ $325. But high-end examples command incredible premiums. If you are looking for the most difficult high-end collecting challenge in post-war baseball, the 1969 Topps Deckle Edge set is probably it.