Anyone who has collected set usually sails along through most of the first six series. It’s those 1967 Topps baseball high numbers that cause many to pull out their wallets—and their hair—with exasperation.
Several were short printed. Today, a handful of certain ’67 Topps high numbers have proven to be next to impossible to find in mint or even near mint condition.
Recent sales have included a PSA 9 #580 Rocky Colavito for $537, a #558 Mark Belanger rookie card at over $349 and a dizzying array of the premier rookie cards in the set that wound up in the last series—Rod Carew and Tom Seaver—bringing hundreds. Many of the toughest cards in the set are a challenge to find even amid the hundreds of thousands of listings on eBay. Single printed cards with centering issue are the bane of collectors trying to piece together high grade sets. Dealers simply can’t keep enough of them in stock to meet the demand.
The toughest cards aren't always stars
Texas native Craig Parker is working on every Topps set from 1952 on and is currently ten cards short of completing the ’67 set.
“For me, the toughest 1967 Topps high number card to obtain is #592, the Shellenback / Willis rookie card,” he told Sports Collectors Daily. “Although this particular card books at $25 in Beckett, you would be hard pressed to find one in EX condition at that price,” he said. “It is my experience that you should be able to buy most vintage cards in EX condition for around half of Beckett price. I just bought a 1964 Topps Roger Maris card in graded EX condition that books at $60 for $30. However, I have seen EX examples of #592 sell for well over $50. I am not sure of the answer but that card is one I need to get. The cheapest one I see on eBay right now in PSA 5 condition is $43.49 delivered and that is for a card that supposedly has a full book value of $25.”
Collectors hoping for a mint 9 Don Demeter card (#572) haven't been successful with only six ever reaching that level because of centering and other issues. Mickey Stanley (#607) and Wally Bunker (#585) come next, followed by Mike Shannon (#605), Maury Wills (#570) and Jim Owens (#582).
The chase for some cards is not always reflected in price guides. “The Red Sox cards and some Tigers cards are very tough to find in PSA 8 and higher because of centering issues,” said Leighton Sheldon of Just Collect, whose company is eBay’s largest seller of vintage cards.
Seaver, Carew, Robinson and Colavito
On the other hand, some high profile cards in the 1967 Topps high number series may be worth shopping around for. While the Seaver rookie card may be the signature card in the set, its not that difficult to locate despite Tom Teriffic’s high profile in the dedicated east coast collector base.
“I think the Tom Seaver rookie is much easier to find in nice condition as compared the Rod Carew Rookie,” said Sheldon. “A Carew PSA 9 Rookie is worth more than a Seaver PSA 9 Rookie because of centering issues but a Carew RC PSA 7 or PSA 8 is worth less than a Seaver RC PSA 7 or PSA 8 because Seaver is generally more in demand.”
Sheldon also noted that the 1967 Topps #600 Brooks Robinson is also notorious for being off center. It, too, brings $375-425 in NM/MT condition—far more than any other Robinson card of similar vintage. As noted above, the very attractive Rocky Colavito is another short printed star card that's usually on collector want lists as well as higher grade copies of the Red Sox team card.
1966 Wasn't Much Easier
1966 and ’67 are perhaps the toughest ‘60s sets to complete today and it had to have been a frustrating couple of years for youth and adult collectors at the time. The ‘66 set has its own share of challenges. The Grant Jackson/Bart Shirley rookie card (#591) drives high grade collectors crazy. Near mint, graded examples sell for $200 and up.
Yup, that’s for a “common”.
Some dealers have been known to hoard them. Not to flip right away but to hold them for years, driving up prices as collectors get desperate. Even non-graded examples are snapped up rapidly at shows. Last summer’s National Sports Collectors Convention was like a feeding frenzy for ’66 highs. Still, it doesn’t mean more ’66 Topps are sold.
1967 Topps fans were diving into rare high numbers with equal abandon. By show’s end, only extremely high grade, high priced examples or double prints remained on dealer tables.
“In my opinion the 67 set is much more popular than the 66 set,” said Sheldon. “There are two great rookies that headline the set and lots of great leader cards and multi-player cards. The photography is exceptional on the ‘67 set as the photos seems to be large and very crisp. The set and specifically the 1967 Topps high numbers are highly collected and tough to find in high grade. I do not think people hoard the highs but dealers try to stock them because it’s a popular set to complete.”