Welcome to the fourth and final installment of the Topps File Set series. In the previous articles, I explored the history of Topps’ file sets, delved into notable resales of the albums, and shared some of the file copy binder pages that Topps authenticated and sold to collectors. Now, I’ll focus on individually graded Topps vault file copies of baseball, football, and hockey cards. As you’ll see, some of these cards are one-of-ones, while others came in pairs. At a certain point, Topps only kept one stain-free copy of each card in a presentation binder (I believe inserting its original file copy cards onto special die-cut pages); these cards are labeled as 1-of-1, while cards pasted in albums and removed were slabbed and labeled as 1-of-2 or 2-of-2. Let’s look at some of these unique and sought-after cards.
Topps Vault File Copies – Baseball
It doesn’t look like Guernsey’s sold any 1954 Topps baseball files in the 1989 Topps Auction, and I haven’t seen any slabbed sheets sold either. But they must have been kept in bound volumes because Beckett has slabbed a few examples, including the following Yogi Berra, Monte Irvin, and Phil Rizzuto cards. All three of these copies are labeled 2-of-2 and had the front of the cards glued down to show the back in the album, hence the stains on the front.
Guernsey’s auctioned off Topps series files for the 1953, 1955, and 1956 sets.
Topps sold a lot of vintage file copy cards in May/June 2007, notably 1957 Topps cards, fifty years after they were first released. Sports Collectors Daily shared that the Bob Lemon card sold for $68, Gil McDougald’s sold for $67, and Carl Erskine’s went for $63, but many others sold for the opening bid of $9.95. Here are examples from the 1957 set, the Enos Slaughter has a stained back, and Jim Bolger has a stained front. Topps did auction the 1957 Topps First Series File in Guernsey’s auction.
Guernsey’s auctioned off some Topps series files for the 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, and 1966 sets.
The next Topps Vault File Copy card I found, chronologically, was a Sandy Koufax 1964 Topps Stand-Ups card.
Topps must have transitioned to those die-cut pages for their 1967 baseball archives because you can see that the Twins Team and NL ERA Leaders cards were both slabbed 1-of-1.
The same storage methods continued in the following years, as cards from 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1975 are all labeled as 1-of-1s.
I haven’t seen any Topps Fault File Copy items from the 1960 or 1971 sets. That’s not to say the 1971 or 1960 Topps File Copy cards don’t exist; I’ve just never seen any.
Topps Vault File Copies – Football
The oldest individually slabbed Topps football cards I have found are from the 1956 set. They were glued onto sheets, as the following Cleveland Browns team card is a 2-of-2 with a stained back.
Topps also slabbed individual football cards from their 1957 and 1958 sets.
Things get interesting after that. You can see in the Part 3 article that BGS slabbed individual pages from the 1959, 1961, and 1968 Topps football sets with two of each card pasted on them. But then we have the following example of Scott Appleton’s 1967 card labeled as a 1-of-1, and it’s unstained.
The 1-of-1 theme continued in 1969, 1970, 1972, and 1973 (I haven’t found any cards from 1971).
Topps Vault File Copies – Hockey
Guernsey’s auctioned off the 1958, 1962, 1963, 1965, and 1967 hockey bound volumes, and I haven’t seen any other full albums or individual sheets sold since (some others may exist, of course). But a few individual hockey file copies exist from the 1968 Topps, 1969 OPC, 1970 OPC, 1971 Topps, and 1972 Topps sets.
Topps Vault File Copies – Non-Sport
Topps did keep file copies for at least some of their non-sport cards, as I came across this 1958 Topps Zorro file copy card as a 2-of-2 with a stained front.
The only Topps Basketball file copies I have come across in my research were the complete files for the 1957 and 1969 sets, which were first sold in Guernsey’s auction before being re-sold years later.
As I wrap up Part 4 of the Topps File Set series, it’s clear that Topps’ archival material continues to captivate collectors and enthusiasts alike. From the individually graded cards to the uniquely slabbed pages and the complete sound volumes, there’s something special about these Topps File Copy cards that sets them apart. While Topps may have moved on from the practice of pasting cards onto binder pages, the legacy of these file sets lives on. Thank you for joining me in this exploration of hobby history, and don’t forget to stay tuned for future articles and updates on the world of collecting. You can stay up to date by subscribing to The Post War Cards Newsletter and following me on Twitter; happy collecting!