In the early 1990s, Topps was still an industry giant but facing stiff competition from other brands. In 1991, Topps capitalized on its 40th anniversary, promoting that fact on all of its cards with a special logo. That year, Topps also printed the Desert Storm issue, a parallel set of its regular cards distributed in packs to members of the military and introduced its glossy Stadium Club brand.
The next year saw the manufacturer add a new wrinkle to the sports card industry with the hobby’s first real parallel set: 1992 Topps Gold.
A Changing Landscape
To get a better idea of why Topps introduced gold cards, one simply has to look growing number of baseball cards available. First, there was the introduction of some new brands. Topps, Fleer, and Donruss remained the three primary manufacturers, but things changed in 1988 with the introduction of Score. 1989 brought Upper Deck’s revolutionary “high-end” touch with a hologram on the back.
They were far from the only company making changes, though. Fleer introduced its new ‘Ultra’ line in 1991, a thinner, sleeker version of its standard cards. Donruss introduced its ultra rare Elite inserts in 1991 with a unique look. Topps even previously got in on the act, reintroducing the Bowman line in 1989 with an oversized retro-looking card and creating the super-glossy Stadium Club brand a couple of years later in 1991. There weren’t only new cards, but they started to look and feel differently.
Introduction of Gold Parallels
Topps didn’t shy away from the changes to the card industry. The 1992 baseball set featured a new parallel of gold cards. Because gold cards were only randomly inserted, it meant assembling a complete set (particularly in the pre-eBay days) extremely difficult since there were 792 cards in the set.
The cards were exactly the same as the regular cards. The only difference was that the name plate at the bottom was embossed in gold instead of being colored with one of the team’s colors.
The cards weren’t only for baseball, either. Gold cards were found in the company’s football, basketball, and hockey packs, too.
In addition to the standard gold cards found in packs and those factory sets, Topps also offered collectors another chance to obtain gold cards as part of a game. Collectors could mail in special game cards found in packs in exchange for gold cards. Those cards, however, were stamped with the word ‘Winner’, also in gold. The cards hold some value, but are generally considered not as collectible as the ‘regular’ gold cards.
A collector could open an entire case of Topps baseball cards and would still come away with only a very small portion of the gold card set. For that reason, the company produced 12,000 complete gold factory sets.
The sets were steep in price at the time, but also had a special prize inside. In addition to the 792 gold inserts, the factory sets included a limited Brien Taylor autographed rookie card. Taylor was a ‘can’t miss’ prospect going No. 1 overall in the Major League Baseball Draft and the fact that he was selected by the New York Yankees only hyped up his career even more. Unfortunately, Taylor never even reached the major leagues after years of struggles as a pitcher. That once famous Taylor card is more of a novelty these days, selling for $5-$10.
You can own a complete, sealed 1992 Topps Gold factory set today for around $35.
The 1992 Topps set didn’t just include gold cards. Topps also made a major change by not including its trademark rectangular pieces of gum with the cards. Some collectors no doubt missed it but others had to be pleased. The gum didn’t taste that great and it also meant an end to gum-stained cards that were potentially valuable.
1992 Topps Gold Prices
While a big hit back in the day, 1992 Topps Gold cards simply aren’t worth too much these days. Commons can be found for $1 or less and even stars cost very little. The most expensive card in the set is generally the Manny Ramirez rookie card and even that can be had for $10 or even less.
You can see 1992 Topps Gold on eBay by clicking here.