If you walked the floor of the National Sports Collectors Convention this summer, you heard virtually every dealer of post-World War II cards lamenting the lack of 1966 Topps high number short prints. It's a case of the demand being far greater than the supply. Topps' 7th series sheets were configured in such a way that more than two dozen cards weren't printed in the same quantities as their brethren. The toughest of all, they say, is #591. Sometimes it seems like you're asking about a T206 Wagner. The 1966 Topps Grant Jackson rookie card was not just scarce, it was almost non-existent. There may have been a couple ungraded examples in the room when the show started but not by Sunday.
There is some legitimacy to the idea that the Jackson-Bart Shirley NL Rookies card is the scarcest of all 1966 Topps short prints. If everyone needs one and no one has them, that's a hard fact to ignore.
We know, however, where some of them are--well, sort of. We were told of one National show dealer who buys all he can find--and keeps them.
"He's creating an artificial market," said another dealer at a recent show we attended. "He's trying to control it."
We don't know how many he's holding onto but the question might be...why?
A simple check of the PSA Population Report reveals the Jackson-Shirley rookie card to be scarce in ultra high grade. There are only 5 9's and no tens. Yet there are 211 total graded, not anywhere near the lowest number among the 598 cards in the set. There are 62 8's--not the fewest of any 1966 Topps short prints. In fact, there are several cards from the 1966 set that would seem to actually be as tough or tougher to locate in high grade. #539 Astros Rookies, #544 Cardinals Rookies, #555 Ron Perranoski, plus Dave Nicholson, Tony Taylor, Mel Queen and Felix Mantilla are all in short supply. #547 Horace Clarke has been tough for many collectors, partly because he's being gobbled up by set collectors and the legion of Yankee collectors too. I suppose you could buy them all and create a severe shortage but at some point, it would seem collectors would see through the plan and back off.
For now, though, collectors must fight over what's left. A total of 27 of them were listed on eBay in July and August. All but two sold. Just six are available now, ranging from a $550 PSA 8.5 to a $50 G-VG. More will no doubt surface as collectors surrender their sets to dealers and auction houses in exchange for cash. It won't be enough to satisfy everyone who wants to put together a nice set, but patience might be the best play for now.