I’ll often find cards I’m interested in buying for my collection in larger lots at auction houses. I’ll buy the lot and sell the cards I don’t need. A year or two ago, one of the cards highlighted in a lot I purchased was the 1966 Topps #591 N.L. Rookie Stars Bart Shirley Grant Jackson card. Since the auction house highlighted it in the lot, I listed it for sale individually on eBay without any serious expectations. My trusty 2010 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards listed a NM condition card for $16, so I expected mine to sell for around $5. When it sold for over $100, I was caught off guard. I did some quick research and noticed the popularity of 1966 Topps High Numbers and took a note to do some future research into the card, so here is what I’ve learned about the 1966 Topps #591 Grant Jackson rookie card.
Grant Jackson is the highlighted player of the two, but that’s a bit irrelevant to the story. The 1966 Topps set has three key rookie Hall of Famers, Jim Palmer, Don Sutton, and Ferguson Jenkins, to go along with 38 other HOFers. But the thing that drives the price of the set’s value is the 7th series (Cards 523-598) and its short-printed cards, including the Grant Jackson Rookie.
It turns out that for many 1966 Topps collectors, the Shirley/Jackson rookie card is considered to be the toughest card in the set, and prices seem to reflect that. Remember that even though the PSA Pop Report shows 594 graded Grant Jacksons, a higher number than other short prints and high numbers, any higher priced card will be graded in larger numbers. The card is pretty tough to find in better condition too.
But what’s causing the disparity for this card in particular? In 2016 Sports Collectors Digest interviewed a 1966 Topps Collector who said, in regards to the perception of rarity:
It’s likely due to a perfect storm of short printing, the rumored creation of an artificial market over the past five-six years via dealer hoarding, and subsequent panic among hobbyists in reaction to those rumors. As the story spread, the value and scarcity rose.Glenn Codere
The Codere quote makes a lot of sense, but is there anything else? A few hobbyists believe there could be tiers of short prints. But how can that be proven? Well, this is why things like uncut sheets are so crucial to hobby historians.
There is an incredible ongoing thread on the net54baseball forums where a few users are crowdsourcing together uncut sheets through partial sheets, miscut cards, and card availability/population reports.
They have shown that the complete pattern is A, B, C, D, E, A, F, G, B, C, D, E for one half-sheet. And that the other half-sheet is D, E, A, F, G, B, C, D, E, A, F, G.
Row A = headed by Northrup
Row B = headed by Perranowski
Row C = headed by Hoerner RC
Row D = headed by Taylor
Row E = headed by Salmon
Row F = headed by Mantilla
Row G = headed by Shirley RC
Here are a few images that show what’s been pieced together so far.
Another user has made some great conclusions about short prints in the 1966 set, whether real or imagined. They believe it’s a combination of things:
- Composition or technical issues (pulling a row, subbing another real quick) prior to printing
- Number of impressions per card on the sheets
- Card coordination on sheet
- Superstars being called S.P.’s instead of “high demand”
- Collation and Packaging Damage
- Original Distribution skewing pops
- Boxes being opened in the old hobby days with bad collation
- After Market Events (1975 Card Collectors Co fire) skewing remaining inventories
The thing is, no one will ever know Topps printing processes from 1966, and hobby dynamics (in pricing) often defy logic. It seems obvious that the Grant Jackson card is a short print, but not rarer than any other short print. I’m encouraged by the work of the forum members and wish them luck in the future. If you know anything else about these 1966 Topps cards, head over to the forum and help the community out.