1968 Topps Football Uncut Sheet And A Great Looking Subset

Here’s a 1968 Topps Football uncut sheet of 132 cards that Mastro auctioned off in May 2008. They described it as being in approximately Ex condition.

The big names on the sheet include Starr, Meredith, Namath, Sayers, Unitas, and Butkus. I think the 1968 Topps Packers and Raiders cards are among the best-looking football card “subsets” of all time.

I had written about the subset in one of my old newsletters, #57, so here’s that text (its preceding mini article was about ‘Beautiful Two Player Baseball Cards’:

While we are on the subject of beautiful cards, there’s a solid case to be made for the 1968 Topps Packers and Raiders cards as the best-looking football card “subset” of all time. Those teams played in Super Bowl II (Lombardi’s last game as a coach) and have cards that are oriented horizontally, while the rest of the cards in the set are oriented vertically (and look rather bland)

The eight 1968 Topps Green Bay Packers cards were the key players from the 1967 Packers Super Bowl champs (they won 33-14): Bart Starr, Carroll Dale, Bob Jeter, Elijah Pitts, Boyd Dowler, Herb Adderley, Ray Nitschke, Jim Grabowski, and Donny Anderson.

The eight 1968 Topps Oakland Raiders cards (the 1967 AFL Champions) included: Kent McCloughan, Billy Cannon, Hewritt Dixon, Clem Daniels, Tomo Keating, George Blanda, Fred Biletnikoff, Daryle Lamonica.

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.

Uncut Sheet of Unissued R327 Diamond Stars

Sotheby’s offered this circa 1935 uncut sheet of Diamond Stars when they sold Copeland’s collection in 1991. The cards were meant to be the high numbers for the R327 set issued by National Chicle Gum Co.

In the lot’s description, Sotheby’s wrote, “This sheet turned up in a discovery of material from the relative of a printer for The National Chicle Gum Co. which included a few uncut sheets and several pieces of original artwork (issued and unissued). The offered sheet is the only known copy.”

When SCP auctions resold the sheet in April 2016 for $62,256, they included the following photos for the lot, including the back (Sotheby’s sold the sheet framed).

Here’s the full description from the 2016 SCP Auction:

The 1934-36 R327 Diamond Stars Baseball set is one of the most beautiful ever produced. Its unique art deco renderings, player selection, and other eclectic nuances have captivated generations of collectors. Although the final checklist for the multi-year set reaches as high as #108, apparently there were plans to take it higher. The proof lies in this lone surviving copy of a 1936 R327 Diamond Stars Baseball uncut sheet showing 12 more cards that made it to the drawing board and beyond.

This spectacular uncut sheet turned up in a discovery of material back in the 1980’s from a relative of a printer for the National Chicle Company, producers of the Diamond Stars series. Also included in the find were a few regular issue uncut sheets and some baseball original artwork (both issued and unissued). The magnificent piece offers 12 art deco images of 13 players, including one featuring Hall of Fame St. Louis Browns teammates Rogers Hornsby and Jim Bottomley, one of the first multi-player cards produced in a major card issue in the 1900’s. Also included on the sheet are Hall of Famers Vernon “Lefty” Gomez and Goose Goslin plus Phil Cavaretta, Lon Warneke, Mel Harder, Benny Frey, Pete Fox, Linus Frey, Rip Collins, Roger Cramer, and Gene Moore. All have crystal clear images with outstanding color and detail. This is the only Diamond Stars high series sheet and cards known to exist. Sheet has full production front with printer’s marks and a blank back. One very slight crease crosses the lower right corner in the white outside of the card images. This unique sheet was originally offered in the 1991 Sotheby’s Copeland Collection Auction. A few years later it sold for an amazing $75,000. In 1997 it was displayed at the National Sports Gallery in Washington, DC. One of the finest known uncut baseball card sheets in the hobby in beautiful high grade condition.

Absent from the hobby for almost 20 years the time has come for another collector to become the steward for this extraordinary one-of-a-kind rarity. In an era of collecting where the hunger for rarity, “low-pops” and 1 of 1’s is ever increasing, this historic pre-war “cardifact” is sure to whet some appetites. SCP Auctions is honored to present the one and only 1936 R327 Diamond Star uncut sheet of never issued high numbers.

1950 Uncut Sheet Full Menko Card Set With Babe Ruth

The 1950 Japanese Menko baseball card set features 52 leading Japanese players printed as playing cards, plus a joker featuring Babe Ruth. This uncut sheet was offered for sale in August 2003.

It’s one of the few times that Babe Ruth appeared on a Japanese card. The sheet was described as being 15” x 10-1/4”, off-center left, printed on both sides with a slight darkening on the back at the bottom, and with minor soiling at the lower right on the front that doesn’t affect any cards; EX/MT overall.

I don’t know much about Japanese baseball cards, but I did pick up a few books for the Hobby Library by noted niche expert Gary Engel. 

Also, these sheets seem relatively common (Engel confirms this in the 6th Edition of his Japanese Baseball Card Checklist and Price Guide, mentioning that this set is generally found as an uncut sheet), with recent prices averaging a few hundred dollars but trending up; there are a few outliers over $1k.

You can download a digital version of Engel’s guide here.

1940/41 O-Pee-Chee Hockey Double-Sided Uncut Sheet

There are some incredibly unique collectibles out there, like this 1940/41 O-Pee-Chee double-sided “uncut sheet” I found in a 2005 Mastro auction catalog.

Here’s the lots full description:

In 1940, O-Pee-Chee continued the production of their oversized 5″ x 7″ cards from the year before. The offered uncut sheet contains images of all 50 cards in the 1940 set. Card #’s 101-125 are printed on one side of the sheet while cards #’s 126-150 appear on the other side. Card #’s 101-125 are printed in black and white while the remaining cards are in sepia. A plethora of stars are present, including #’s 102 Sands, 108 Broda, 116 Reardon, 118 Apps, 125 Lach, 130 Broda, 131 Bentley, 132 Schmidt, 136 Patrick and 146 Apps. The sheet measures an imposing 25-1/2″ × 36″. Due to its size, it is host to a plethora of condition problems, including multiple creases, edge tears, surface scrapes, etc. Despite these flaws, we cannot overstate its importance, and the piece may well be the only one of its type in the hobby. With proper framing and matting, this rarity would make a spectacular display piece and nicely complement the finest advanced hockey collection.

However, I think Heritage Auctions got it right when they sold an incredibly similar item in October 2021 for $810 and described it as an advertising poster.

They wrote, “This is a two-sided poster printed on thin paper. Was it meant to hang in retail stores? Did O-Pee-Chee consider making dual-sided cards on paper to accommodate the war effort like ’41 Play Ball baseball cards on paper in the states? Either way, it is very rare. There is some obvious edge damage, surface damage and creasing. Every card is affected by creasing. Overall size is approx 25” x 35″ on paper.”

1969/70 Topps Basketball Uncut Sheets

When this 1969/70 Topps basketball uncut sheet was auctioned off in April/May 2008, it was one of only two known examples to the hobby. 

The sheet is approximately 28” x 42” and features the entire 99-card set in a 9 x 11 arrangement. The sheet’s overall quality was described as ~Ex because of wrinkles affecting many of the single subjects (like Alcindor), creases, tears, and other faults. This consignor originally acquired the sheet from the Topps Vault.

From his archives, I know that Christopher Sanchirico once, or still, owns this example of a 1969 Topps basketball uncut sheet.

And then, just a few months ago, in February 2024, Heritage auctioned off this example of a 1969 Topps basketball uncut sheet, which sold for $216k despite a few pinholes and wrinkles from being rolled up for most of its existence.