1952 Topps black backs typically command a slight premium in the market. These cards occur on the first print runs of cards numbered 1-80 only. Cards #1-80, as well as #81-407, were subsequently printed with both black and red backs. While it is assumed that Topps printed equal numbers of black and black/red backs of the lower series, black backs are now more desired by collectors.
Records of Topps printing runs are not detailed for the 1952 series; Topps did not generally release records of printing in the 1950s. Some sources indicate that Topps officials thought that the all-black backs affected the quality of the card fronts, leading to the printing color change in the first series.
Black backs also play a prominent role in the major error of the 1952 Topps set. The errors of #48 Joe Page (with Johnny Sain’s writeup on the back) and #49 Johnny Sain (with Joe Page’s writeup on the back) both have black backs. The error was corrected in subsequent print runs that included black/red backs.
The 1952 Topps black backs provide a snapshot into the nature of baseball card production in the 1950s, as Topps had to constantly make adjustments during card production. Today, the black backs remain highly collectible and the more desired of the tough low numbers in the 1952 Topps set. You can see what’s available on eBay here.