It seems unfathomable, but not every pack of decades-old baseball cards has been opened. 1952 Topps baseball wax packs are out there–and among the most sought after nostalgia items in the baseball card market.
Topps’ first issue changed the world of baseball cards forever. Once confined to small square or rectangular sizes, Topps blew up their high quality cards into a size that impressed kids. In fact, the front of the ’52 Topps wrapper advertises “Giant Size” cards inside.
The 1952 Topps packs are red, green and white with the word “baseball” in the middle of a baseball image. The waxy paper wrapper conceals either one card and a stick of gum in the penny packs or five cards and gum in the nickel packs. The 1-cent packs are tougher to find than the nickel packs.
There was a 1980s find of early 1950s wax and that’s where most of today’s stock likely comes from. A few have survived in collections and by now, most have been graded.
In 2008, a PSA 5 nickel pack sold for $4406 at auction and you should have bought one then. In 2009, another, higher grade nickel pack went for $14,406. In the summer of 2010, a PSA 8 example brought $21,404 for Memory Lane Auctions. The company also sold a GAI 8.5 graded pack in May of 2013 for $15,432. Prices for GAI graded packs have varied quite a bit,but $10,000-$15,000 would seem to be the landing spot for a higher grade pack while $6,000-$10,000 would net something in the 6-6.5 range.
In 2013, Heritage Auctions sold a high number pack which could conceivably contain a Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Jackie Robinson or other cards from the scarce series. Graded 6, it sold for $17,925.
There is at least one empty case that once held 1952 Topps high number boxes. It was originally part of a Mr. Mint purchase many years ago.
We do know of a few stashes of unopened packs that survive today. Here’s one.
At the National Sports Collectors Convention a few years ago, a 1952 Topps pack was opened and became the talk of the show.
The Christmas rack packs you often see online are not original to 1952, but rather an after-market product that while possibly containing legitimate cards from the era–perhaps even a star or two– is best served with a healthy dose of buyer beware.
Display boxes are hard to find but do come up for bid once in awhile and we’ve spotted some 1952 Topps wrappers on eBay for less than $200. They make a great addition to an advanced collection.
There’s one unopened 1952 Topps pack on eBay as of this writing.