Cracking the Code: 1974 Topps Baseball Cello Packs

When it comes to 1970s Topps baseball cello packs, some of the scarcest and priciest are those from 1974. They’re also particularly popular with the vintage unopened community for being the last of the jumbo cello packs. However, quite a few fakes exist. One way to identify legitimate packs is through the pack’s product code, and 1974 Topps baseball cello packs have two variations. So, in this article, I’ll set the stage for the 1974 discussion by talking about 1970s Topps baseball cello packs as a whole, then discussing the two 1974 cello product codes before closing with a few recent sales.

1970s Topps Baseball Cello Packs

First, to understand cost and scarcity, it makes sense to share the PSA population count of 1970s Topps baseball cello packs. There are really three categories of availability; the easiest to track down are 1975 (1049 graded), 1979 (896 graded), 1978 (829 graded), and 1970 (453 graded). The middle tier packs, in terms of population, are 1977 (313 graded), 1976 (299 graded), and 1973 (239 graded). Then you have the toughest packs; there are just 54 1974 Topps baseball cello packs, 50 1972 Topps baseball cello packs, and a minuscule 22 1971 Topps baseball cello packs in PSA’s Pop Report.

When identifying legitimate packs, an important thing to know is the number of cards included in cello packs each year. Here are the cello pack card counts for each year of Topps baseball cards in the ‘70s:

  • 1970: 33
  • 1971: 30
  • 1972: 30
  • 1973: 27
  • 1974: 22
  • 1975: 18
  • 1976: 18
  • 1977: 18
  • 1978: 21
  • 1979: 18

1974 Topps Baseball Cello Pack Product Codes

I must emphasize that some fake 1974 Topps cello packs exist in PSA and GAI holders; one of the fakes has Mike Schmidt on top. And second, there’s a lot more to authenticating a legitimate cello pack than the product code. But, in this article, I’ll only be looking at that. Do your due diligence (wrapping, collation, gum placement, etc.); it’s hard to tell without having them in hand. The product code is just the low-hanging fruit in authentication. Also, If I’ve made any mistakes in this article, please e-mail me so I can correct them.

There are two product code versions that you’ll find on 1974 Topps baseball cello packs. The first ends in 2 and are leftover wrappers from 1973 cellos—the more common version ends in 4, which Topps used through part of 1975 as well. Some unopened hobby experts on the Facebook Vintage Wax and Packs group have shared that the -2 wrappers were the earlier product run. 

In 1975, Topps changed the wrappers to a version that ended in 5, which they used through 1977. Then in 1978, the code changed again to finish in 8. Notice that these changes happened parallel to a change in the pack’s card count.

Here’s an example of a 1973 Topps baseball cello pack (from Robert Edward Auctions) with the product code 0-368-58-01-2.

1973 Topps Baseball Cello Pack – 0-368-58-01-2

And here are a pair of 1974 Topps baseball cello packs with the same 0-368-58-01-2 product code (both from the Facebook Vintage Wax and Packs group).

1974 Topps Baseball Cello Pack – 0-368-58-01-2
1974 Topps Baseball Cello Pack – 0-368-58-01-2

And here’s an example of a 1974 Topps baseball cello pack (from Memory Lane Inc.) with the more common 0-461-54-01-4 code.

1974 Topps Baseball Cello Pack

1974 Topps Baseball Cello Pack Sales

Remember, there are only 54 PSA-encapsulated 1974 Topps baseball cello packs; there are probably a handful of GAI ones too. They’re all selling for well over $1k these days. In June 2019, a 1974 Topps baseball cello pack with Don Wilson on top sold for $1540; in January 2021, a Steve Brye on-top cello sold for $1146; and in April 2021, this 1974 Topps cello with Hank Aaron on top sold for $1740

Memory Lane Inc. sold the 1974 Topps baseball cello pack with Dave Winfield on top, pictured above, for $2761 in December 2021. The owner appears to have flipped it after purchasing it from PWCC for $1359 in June 2019

With Reggie Jackson and Willie Stargell’s RBI Leaders card on top, Robert Edward Auctions sold this cello pack for $1860 in December 2022.

1974 Topps Baseball Cello Pack

A handful of 1974 cellos have also changed hands on the Facebook Vintage Wax and Packs group, all for well over $1k.

Final Thoughts and Further Reading

Hopefully, now you have a better idea about product codes on 1974 Topps baseball cello packs and how Topps changed their codes throughout the 70s.

I share a lot of information about unopened products in the Post War Cards Newsletter, but I’ve also written a few articles dedicated to cello packs here on the blog:

Happy collecting!

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