1952 Topps Color Process Proof Cards

The other day, I published a piece about the 1952 Topps baseball progressive proof uncut sheets. I shared that, after buying all seven of them from Sotheby’s in 1992, it looked like the owner trimmed the full-color process proof sheet before reselling the full series of seven sheets at REA in 2006 (they very well could have changed hands a few more times over the years, I have no idea). The next owner saved the final color-process proof sheet but cut up the other six progressive proof sheets and slabbed each card with SGC before reselling them all with REA again in 2009.

The final color-process proof sheet sold for $18,800 in that 2009 REA auction. In the description, REA wrote “The final sheet was originally accompanied by six color process proof sheets, which have since been perfectly cut and organized by player, and are represented by the twenty lots that follow this one.”

Each of the twenty 1952 Topps proof card groups included the following color processes: 1) Red, yellow, and blue printing. A card which is very close in appearance to a final process card, but with the black printing missing. 2) Yellow and red printing.  3) Yellow printing. 4) Red printing. 5) Blue printing. 6) Black printing.

The two priciest groups of six color-process proof cards sold belonged to Andy Pafko ($3,819) and Warren Spahn ($2,644).

The other 18 lots of six cards sold for between $470 and $1,763.

If you search other auction house archives, you’ll find that many have been resold over the years. For example, MHCC sold the Runnels cards for $840 in March 2019, Brockelman sold the DiMaggio cards for $2,085 in June 2018, and REA re-sold the Pafko cards for $3,120 in their 2023 spring auction.

1952 Topps Progressive Proofs Uncut Sheets

Sotheby’s offered an incredible series of 7 1952 Topps Progressive Proof Uncut Sheets in their 1992 Important Baseball Cards and Sports Memorabilia Auction…But I have a bad feeling the buyer trimmed this one.

First, here’s the lot’s description from the ’92 catalog. They mentioned the series of sheet colors and conditions and that it was the only known series of progressive sheets of this series.

Things get interesting in 2006 when REA auctioned off a lot, which sold for $16,240, of “1952 Topps Series 1A Uncut Color Process Proof Sheets (7), The First 1952 Topps Ever Printed!” They included photos of each sheet; here are a few of them:

But do you notice anything about the full-color one? The more extensive borders from the one pictured in the Sotheby’s auction are missing!

REA re-sold the final color process sheet in May 2009 for $18,800, however they noted that, “The final sheet was originally accompanied by six color process proof sheets, which have since been perfectly cut and organized by player, and are represented by the twenty lots that follow this one.”

In both auctions, REA wrote, “The offered sheets are the only 1952 Topps color process sheets known to exist.”

I reached out to The Topps Archives (my favorite hobby blog) since he wrote a great piece inspired by the second REA auction, sharing my concerns. He wrote that the line between Pesky and Groth is on all the examples, so they could be the same. He also hoped there was no cut-down but acknowledged it seemed like there was.

Considering that it was unlikely Topps would need multiple printings of these proofs, the visual similarities, and auction descriptions, it seems likely someone trimmed (and cut up individual cards from) a true hobby one-of-one.

Please let me know if you have any more intel on this one.