Saturday, July 9, 2011

Topps Traded Sets, The Early Years

A post last Sunday on Adam Dunn's 1999 traded set card got me thinking about all of my traded sets. I don't think I've said too much about them. Might as well start now!

As a concept, I like the traded sets idea. I'd much rather have a card of a player in the correct uniform, but a little later in the year, than an airbrushed card. I've got all of the traded sets, starting with the first. All together, there have been 5381 traded cards in the separate traded sets issued over 29 different years they were made, plus seven more that were a part of the1972 set.

Topps rolled out the traded idea all the way back in 1972, with seven specially marked cards in the 6th series. One of the seven was a Cub.

....Jose Cardenal.

Two years later, in 1974, Topps had a separate traded card for 43 players and included a traded checklist too. These cards were included in regular packs and featured some really bad airbrushing. That was the big difference between the '72 and '74 cards. The '72s all had pictures taken in spring training, while the '74s were all airbrushed.

These three Cubs were in the '74 set.

Topps took 1975 off, but brought back the traded set in 1976. It was done just like the '74 set, with airbrushed cards included in regular packs. The Cubs were quiet during during the offseason and didn't have a single player in the 43 player (plus a checklist) set. The only "name" deal they made was trading Don Kessinger to the Cardinals for Mike Garmen. The trade was made in late October, so Topps had time to make a regular airbrushed card for Garmen.

Since there weren't any Cubs, I'll show a couple ex-Cubs.

(I just couldn't pass up the chance to show the Oscar Gamble super-fro card!)

It would be another five season before Topps brought back the traded card. I would think that the new competition from Fleer and Donruss may have had something to do with that decision. The cards were not included in regular packs, but were sold later in the summer as a complete 132 card set. They were also numbered as a continuation of the base set, using #727-858. Unlike their previous traded cards, these had no traded marking on them. The cards looked just like the base set. Topps also did something they never did before, placing the players in alphabetical order. That made Danny Ainge the first card in the set and Richie Zisk the last.

Most of the cards had spring training pictures....

....though the airbrush hadn't been retired yet....

.... and a few really ugly cards were made. The 1981 traded set was the first of what we know today as the Update series (or whatever Topps is calling it this year). You can pick up a complete set for around $10.

In future posts, I'll look at more of the traded sets.


  1. There was one non-airbrushed card in the 1974 Tradeds...Bob Locker.

    And the 1981 Coke-Topps Cubs had a few pictures different from the 1981 regular and traded sets, I think both Bonds and Durham have different pictures.

  2. The only reason Topps got to use the Locker picture is because the Cubs traded him back to the A' Topps just used a picture from 1972.

    In this post I've got the Coke and Traded cards side by side.

  3. Then the Cubs got Locker right back after he sat out a year with an injury.

    I was able to get the entire Coke sets from all the teams in one eBay shot. The Sutter airbrush into the Cards hat was interesting.

    Did you see that Billy Williams stamp on eBay I e-mailed you?

  4. Yes, I got it, thanks. Right now I'm laying off of the things that aren't baseball cards; stamps, coins, etc. I just don't want to open that can of worms......yet!

  5. WW,

    I heard that Topps rushed their 1981 set out earlier than usual, to beat upstarts Fleer and Donruss to the marketplace. As a result, there was plenty of fodder for a traded set. naturally, Fleer and Donruss jumped on the bandwagon with their "Update" and "Rookies" sets.

    Topps actually put out updates prior to the 1972 set, if you consider the 2 different versions of the Clay Dalrymple and Donn Clendenon cards in the 1969 set. (Both versions of each player's card uses the same number.) Clendenon's 2nd card has a different team name and colored circle, while Dalrymple's 2nd card uses an entirely different photo. There's a significant enough change on these cards that I don't consider them "variations" of the same card, such as "Billy Ripken's bat has/hasn't got writing in it".