Recently, I Tweeted out a picture of a vintage hockey checklist that sold for well over $1k. A collector commented, asking me what my pick for the checklist that was most worthy of a high dollar value. And while I was about 2.5 hours into a 4-hour indoor bike ride on my turbo trainer, the cards that came to mind were the two versions of the 1957 Topps Football checklist, Twin Blony and Bazooka. As the cards appear on The Checklist Bucket List, I thought a deeper dive into these checklists was warranted.
Saying a checklist is the true gem may be a little tough to understand when you consider the 154-card 1957 Topps Football set (released via an 88-card first series, then a smaller 66-card high series) has the rookie cards of Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, and Paul Hornung (all three big rookies were in the high series), among the likes of George Blanda, Frank Gifford, Bobby Layne, and Y.A. Little. But the checklists are far rarer and significant contributors to what became a new hobby segment.
Topps had checklists in their baseball and football sets in 1956, but Topps seemed like they still didn’t know what to do with them in 1957. The checklists are unnumbered short-prints that came in two different versions randomly and sparingly inserted in packs. The front of the two versions are the same; the difference is that one checklist has Bazooka advertising, while the other has Twin Blony advertising on the back.
Even with monster rookie cards, high numbers, and short prints, the checklists are significantly rarer, especially in high grades; finding a clean 1957 Topps Football challenge is quite a challenge.
The PSA population report shows that both cards have more grades with qualifiers than without them. Additionally, most of the cards are in the PSA 4/5 range. Conventional hobby wisdom has been that the Twin Blony variation is slightly more challenging to find than the Bazooka version. The Pop Report confirms; there are 19 fewer Twin Blony than Bazooka checklists.
From a cost perspective, you have to consider how illiquid these cards are due to scarcity and that the 92 current 1957 Topps Football PSA Set Registry participants who have one or manage to get their hands on one probably aren’t selling. But here are the non-qualifier, most recent sales for both the Bazooka and Twin Blony variants:
- PSA 7 – $8000 (In October 2018)
- PSA 6 – $1600 (In February 2018)
- PSA 5 – $1700 (In November 2019)
- PSA 4.5 – $2358 (In February 2022)
- PSA 4 – $1681 (In April 2021)
- PSA 3 – $550 (In August 2019)
- PSA 2 – $340 (In February 2021)
- PSA 1 – $55 (in June 2018)
- PSA 7 – $6137 (In October 2018)
- PSA 6 – $4500 (In November 2019)
- PSA 5 – $1684 (In October 2017)
- PSA 4 – $899 (In April 2020)
- PSA 3 – $650 (In January 2018)
- PSA 2 – $626 (In July 2021)
- PSA 1.5 – $250 (In August 2021)
- PSA 1 – $112 (in July 2017)
PSA’s price guide doesn’t list prices for the high-grade examples; it’s far too difficult to know what one would go for at auction today. But you can see in the Bazooka series above a PSA 4.5 sold for $750 more in February 2022 than the last PSA 6 sold for in 2018.
I mentioned earlier that Topps included checklists in 1956 too. In 1958, Topps put checklists on the back of team cards before later inserting them as standard cards within numbered sets. So you have to think that Topps was influenced in making that move by being asked for dedicated checklists again, like these 1957 ones, by set collectors. And voila, a new hobby segment, checklists, is matured!
The 1957 Topps Football checklists were paramount in developing dedicated checklists in the post-war hobby, and they are the scarcest, toughest get for collectors of the set. They were short prints that quickly got marked up by kids, so finding a nice one is a trial of patience. So in those two ways, they are the true gem of the 1957 Topps Football set. But, all that said, I wouldn’t turn down the chance at any of the nice rookies either; happy collecting!