Friday, May 31, 2013

Same Basic Design, Same Pictures??

To many, the 1950s were the golden age of baseball cards.  The cards were on actual, thick cardboard.  They had colorful designs.  For much of the decade, the cards were big.

But for a three year span, from 1954 - 1956, the Topps cards had the same basic design.  The card featured a large head shot of the player in the foreground, while an action shot was in the background.  The names all had the same font, as did the positions and team names.

If Topps were to repeat major design elements for three consecutive years now, they would be massacred in the blogs and forums.

But not in the '50s.  The market for the cards was kids, not adult collectors.  And the kids in the '50s didn't seem to care.

The kids didn't seem to care that not only were the designs similar, but many cards used the same pictures, two and even all three years.

I'm a kid of the '60s.  I care!

I went through my Cubs cards to see just how many players had repeat pictures.

There are six players that had cards in two or all three sets.  Of the six, only one had different pictures...Ernie Banks

Well, he had two different pictures, but the '55 was repeated in '56

Hank Sauer was in all three sets also, and he had the same picture... all three.

Howie Pollet was in '54 and '55..

...and its Howie2

Paul Minner showed up in '54 and '56.

The year off didn't mean Topps was taking its time to find a new picture.  Sorry, Paul, you get the repeat treatment.

Jim Davis and Bill Tremel were repeated in...

'55 and '56.  I've got the cards arranged so the heads are next to each other, giving a good look at the repeating going on.

The repeating stopped in 1957, when Topps when a drastically different route by using actual photographs while shrinking the card size to the now familiar 2½" x 3½" format.

Well, the repeating kinda stopped.


  1. Chris Stufflestreet did a little research into the repeats between 1968 and 1969. Apparently one of the actions of the players' association was to stop all players from signing contracts with Topps. Every card they printed in 1969 used a picture taken in 1968 or earlier.

  2. I kind of feel like Topps has had similar designs from 2009 to 2012...

  3. Between the players association thing and expansion, Topps must have really struggled to get a set out there in 1969.

  4. Remember that Topps repeated several Cubs team pictures in the late 50s and into the 60s...