Until recently, I was unfamiliar with the 1968 Topps Plaks checklist cards, despite being a passionate checklist collector and the individual behind Checklist Central and the Twitter account @ChecklistGuy. It wasn’t until I came across some posts in the Vintage Wax and Packs Facebook group featuring the Plaks box and wrappers that I became intrigued and began to research the set for the Unopened Archive. After discovering that the set featured two impressive checklists, I felt compelled to study them.
First, though, here are some basics about the set. The 1968 Topps Plaks are one of the rarer sets Topps ever produced. There is some debate about whether they were officially a test issue and released to the public, but either way, they are really scarce. The set has 24 Plaks, essentially miniature plastic busts of the players (though a few listed on the checklists have never been found). A trio of players came in a pack that would need to be snapped apart (like model airplanes on a plastic sheet) along with two pieces of gum and a checklist for 10 cents.
Topps printed two checklists, one for Plaks 1-12 (American League) and another for Plaks 13-24 (National League). They are 2-1/8″ by 4″, featuring six players on each side. The fronts have a red banner along the top, and the backs have a red banner along the bottom. The black borders are susceptible to chipping, like 1971 Topps Baseball cards.
The checklists are relatively easy to find, compared to the Plaks at least, and the story I have heard about why is that around 1980, there was an uncut sheet of checklists that was cup up, and most of the copies that exist in the hobby today were from that sheet. That’s why most checklists are slabbed authentic and not given a numerical grade from PSA or SGC. There was a find of Plaks in 2008 from a retired Topps employee, but that find wasn’t reported to have included any checklists.
The story of uncut sheets makes sense, though, since in 2020, Huggins and Scott sold two pairs of uncut checklist sheets in a pair of their auctions. In May 2020, they sold two double-sided 11 checklist sheets for $13222.50
And in October 2020, they sold two more double-sided 11 checklist sheets for $11070.
A few of the checklists on both sheets showed some creasing/wrinkling. Both sheets came from Pennsylvania, just like the 2008 Plaks find, but it’s unknown if they were from the same ex-Topps employee. We also can’t be sure if these were proofs or discern any other printing properties.
As shown in the Unopened Archive, packs of 1968 Topps Plaks exist, and some collectors opened one at the 2012 Toronto Sports Card Expo. Here are a few photos from that rip showing there will be copies on the market that aren’t sheet cut.
The pictured checklist from the pack rip was Checklist #1, and in all likelihood, that card would get a numerical grade from a third-party grader. Unfortunately, we have no idea how many packs may have trickled out since there is some debate if they ever got released. Still, many have received numerical grades (not that the third-party graders are perfect at identifying hand-cut cards).
PSA has encapsulated 67 Checklist #1s, with 39 labeled as “authentic”; some even say “Trimmed” on the label. The highest graded Checklist #1 is a seven (pop 1). PSA has also graded 54 Checklist #2s, with 31 being given an authentic grade; the highest graded National League checklist is also a seven (pop 3).
SGC has encapsulated 28 American League checklists, with 21 as authentic and 15 National League checklists, with 7 of those not getting a numerical grade.
Given the condition sensitivity, and history of sheet cut checklists, it’s a bit tough to compare prices per grade for these cards, but prices seem to cluster around $1k for authentic/trimmed copies and upwards of $4k for numerically graded copies.
I think the 1968 Topps Plaks checklists are a pair of the most interesting, attractive, and desirable of any checklists that Topps produced. They’re definitely going on my Checklist Bucket List. But do you think a master checklist collection would need copies both deemed pack ripped and sheet cut?
Happy collecting, and don’t forget to check out the Post War Cards Newsletter.