The 1958 Topps football set can be defined by one player — Jim Brown.
Brown’s rookie card (No. 62) is one of the top football cards of all-time and the key piece of this 132-card set. The rookie out of Syracuse would become a force in the National Football League, leading the league in rushing in eight of his nine seasons. He rushed for 12,312 yards on the ground and also gained 2,499 yards in receptions. In his 118 regular-season games, Brown averaged 104.3 yards rushing per contest.
His rookie card can be found online for anywhere from $150-$200 for a low grade example to over $10,000 for NM/MT copies.
The Brown card certainly is the highlight, but the set itself is worth examining. This was a big improvement over the clunky, double-photo design of the 1957 Topps set. The player was featured inside an oval-shaped picture, framed by a solid-color background. His name, position and team appeared below the photo. The cards measured 2½ inches by 3½ inches, and packs cost a nickel.
The card backs have a design similar to the 1957 Topps format. Each player has a short biography, and players who have generated statistics have a stat line, too. The right side of the card has a trivia question that can be answered by scratching off the answer box with the edge of a coin.
As far as distribution goes, the 1958 Topps set was released in a single series. Subsequently, there are no short prints in the set. Team cards returned after Topps chose to omit them in 1957. The set also has an unnumbered checklist.
While Brown is the headliner, the ’58 set also has a few other stars. Rookies include Sonny Jurgensen (No. 90), Willie Galimore (No. 114), Milt Plum (No. 5), Gene Filipski (No. 1) and Jon Arnett (No. 20).
Brown was not the only future Hall of Famer in this set. Future residents of Canton include Johnny Unitas (No. 22), Bobby Layne (No. 2), Bart Starr (No. 66) and Hugh McElhenny (No. 122).
More than 28,000 cards from the 1958 set have been submitted to PSA for grading, but only six have earned a gem mint designation. Two of those are cards of Starr and Gino Marchetti; the others belong to Duane Putnam, Ray Mathews, Bobby Walston and Tom Scott. There are 498 cards that grade out at PSA 9. Collectors have sent in 2,702 cards of Brown; the highest grade is PSA 9, and there are five of them. Heritage Auctions sold two in 2016–for over $300,000 each.
There have been 3,812 cards sent to SGC for grading, and none have graded out at 98. There are 76 that have graded at 96.
Complete sets are valued depending largely on the grade of the Brown card but a set of reasonably good quality can usually be found for a little under $1,000.
It’s not surprising that Brown is the leading attraction. After all, he was the top attraction during his playing career, too.
A quick look at eBay shows that there are more than 10,000 listings for cards from the 1958 Topps football set (see them here).