As the 1950s came to a close, the NFL was a one league sport. The pro football landscape was a year away from the change brought about by the American Football League. Vince Lombardi had just taken over the woeful Packers.
One maker of football cards.
The 1959 Topps football set would be the company’s biggest to date. 176 cards–44 more than they cranked out the season before.
It’s not jam-packed with Hall of Fame rookie cards, but there are 30 Canton enshrinees in the set, which makes it a bit of a bargain considering the selling prices of sets. Modern era finds of untouched cards have kept the market supplied well enough to keep prices down. As of this writing there are 14 complete sets with a weighted average grade of ‘8’ or better are listed on PSA’s Set Registry.
The set might be best known for the Jim Taylor rookie card that doesn’t actually picture the Packers running back. Number 155 in the set actually pictures a Chicago Cardinals’ linebacker of the same name. Apparently the bright red jersey wasn’t enough for a light to go on at quality control. In fact, Topps made the same mistake with Taylor the next year. Finally, after Green Bay made the NFL title game in 1960, the “real” Taylor showed up the following season.
Despite a lack of great rookie cards, the set features a second-year Jim Brown than can often be found for around $100 in very nice shape. Third year cards of Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr and Paul Hornung are here, too. The #1 card in the set is Johnny Unitas, fresh from the incredible 1958 title game that made him a national star. Expect to shell out $100-150 for Johnny U.
The backs of the ’59 Topps football issue included a quiz on the back that asked youngsters to scratch off the answer with a coin. Unscratched cards are the only ones that wind up in high-grade holders but the set is one of the easiest to complete without looking at a lot of dog-eared fillers. The set also includes team cards and a team pennant subset.
You can see 1959 Topps football cards on eBay by clicking here.