So many of us overlook card backs in this day of hard plastic card encapsulation and grading, so I was super happy to have run across an article dedicated to them while perusing the September 1991 issue of Baseball Cards Magazine.
Jim McLauchlin penned an article titled “Card Backs” in which he celebrated the reverse side of cards kicking it off starting that he likes card backs more than he lies card fronts! Here are the first two pages of the article.
He talks about the plethora of data that have been including on them, chats about some growing pains in card back design in our hobby’s history, before digging into the real story, the specific card backs highlights over the past 50 years of sports cards that he jokingly called “the first quasi annual Sy Berger Awards for Card Back Excellence (or Lack Thereof).”
I thought the Set Awards were so well researched and accurate that they deserved to be shared with folks who don’t have junk-wax era card magazine back issues, so I’ll share a highlight card from many of the categories before sharing the article in total below.
Best Cartoons: 1977-78 Topps Basketball
He noted their incredible variety.
I’ll also note that a lot of original card cartoon art was sold in The Topps Auction by Guernsey’s back in 1989.
Best Cartoon Theme: 1974 Topps Football
Best Back Photography
Anything by Upper Deck
1955 Bowman Baseball
Best Non-Use of the Word “Defenseman”
1990-91 Pro Set Hockey for using terms like rugged blue liners, crafty blue liners, veteran blue liners, and bruising blue liners.
1961 Fleer Football
Word Card Back Idea
Worst Use of Stats
1990 Score Football Johnny Johnson
1975 Topps Carlton Fisk
1958 Topps Sandy Koufax
1971 Topps Football Spider Lockhart
Best Overused Bio Material
He challenged readers to find a Joe Nuxhall card that didn’t say he was the youngest palyer in the majors.
Best Obscure Information
1990 Pro Set Football Chris Singleton
Worst Use of Stats
1971 Topps Football Charlie Krueger
1958 Topps Stan Lopata
Best Expansion of Standard Height, Weight
1963 Topps Dick Radatz
Best Culinary Card
1974-75 Topps Basketball Louis Dampier
Best We’ll Find Something Nice To Say About This Spud If It Kills Us
1965 Topps Mike De La Hoz
Greatest Card Back of Them All
1951 Bowman Leo Nomellini
Final Pages of the Article
If you enjoyed this article about card backs, I’ve covered a few related topics you might be interested in.
- First, I covered what I felt are the best card back in the hobby, 1954 Topps Hockey, a while back.
- Next, one of the more popular posts here on PostWarCards is this one about Mickey Mantle and the 1956 Topps White and Gray Backs.
- And finally, you need to know a lot about card backs in order to identify Venezuela Topps cards.
Happy collecting, and don’t forget to check out The Post War Cards Newsletter for more!