The summer of 1960 brought with it the third and last series of Armour Coins. The 1960 MLB season was the final year of 16 clubs and the end of the 154-game schedule. In the American League, Mickey Mantle was in the process of hitting 40 homers while Roger Maris driving in 112 runs and becoming MVP. In the NL, Ernie Banks would hit 41 dingers and Hank Aaron would drive in 126. In the world around us, Kennedy would be taking on Nixon in the Presidential elections, gasoline cost 25 cents a gallon and the highest-priced ticket in Yankee Stadium were the $3.50 box seats.
1960 Armour coins were once again divided into two groups. The so-called “Aaron group” contained two variations of his coin. The common variation showed Aaron’s team as simply the “Braves” and the rarer one was the “Milwaukee Braves” variation. The Aaron group also contained Ernie Banks, Del Crandall, Mickey Mantle, Gus Triandos and two variations of Frank Malzone (“Red Sox” and “Boston Red Sox”.
The Allison group contained 13 players. The Drysdale coin is the only variation found so far having L.A. with or without a gap between the L and the A.
As in all Armour coins, colors are also very important in the 1960 set. The seven common colors for the Aaron group include: red, red/orange, yellow, lime green, dark green, pale blue, royal blue. So far, all but red and royal blue have been found in both translucent and near transparent variations.
Common colors for the Allison group include only yellow and red/orange and all appear to be translucent.
Rare colors for the Aaron group include: light yellow, navy blue, medium green, slate blue
Rare colors for the Allison group include medium dark yellow, mustard yellow
Very rare colors for the Aaron group include: bright orange, salmon, grey blue, south fla blue, aqua
Examples of these colors are shown below.
The Daley Mystery
Since the very first listings of Armour coins were developed, it has been widely accepted that the Bud Daley coin was, for reasons unknown, the rarest of all Armour coins. That is actually not true. The 1955 Mantle “corrected version” is the rarest and most valuable coin.
Daley coins have shown up in the common red/orange and yellow colors as well as the rarer dark yellow and mustard yellow color variations.
Another group of Daleys has turned up in a variety of colors as shown below. The rumor is that these were “test colors” that someone put away and found years later. Anyway there are no more than a few of each of these colors circulating. I actually own the PSA 10 clear one since I thought it was so unique. These are available every now and then on eBay for less than $500.
The Mastro Auction of 1960 Armour Coins
Most of our statistical knowledge on the hot dog company’s final set comes from a 2007 Mastro Auctions catalog. This lot of 703 1960 Armour coins contained all but the Bud Daley coin. The story was that a worker in the Armour plant filled up the “a popcorn tub” with the coins and put them away in his home only to be found 45 years later. Mastro actually listed every coin by color, condition and quantity.
Partial Back Rims
Anyone looking at the Aaron group in the 1960 Armour coins set have come across the accursed “back rim problem.” It looks like it was caused by a mold offset which produced coins that had part of the back rim hanging off the back of the coin. These were broken off during handling producing coins with partial back rims (see pic below). For some reason (probably just luck) this was most pronounced for Mantle coins. The Mastro lot showed that 67% of the mantle coins were defective along with 29% of the Aaron –Braves and 26% of the Banks.
BEWARE – early on PSA considered this partial rim issue “cosmetic” and graded these coins as high as PSA 8. The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, hearing our case, published that any partial rim coin should not be considered higher than VG. So be sure to check out any 1960 PSA Mantles you buy for back rim issues!
At the end of the season there were once again offers in the hot dog packs to order ten free coins. All indications are that these free lots of ten once again only contained only common color coins.
While the common players/colors are still plentiful and can be bought on eBay for reasonable prices, rare colors, especially of premier players are expensive and hard to locate (you can see all 1960 Armour coins on eBay here).
PSA shows more than 3200 of these 1960 coins have been graded with Mantle and Banks leading at 527 and 495 respectively and Bob Allison the least at 36. The SMR lists PSA 8 Mantle and Aaron (Milwaukee Braves) at $125 each. A Mantle PSA 10 in medium green recently sold for $394.
1961 came and went with no new Armour Coin set, leaving a three-year legacy for collectors to chase more than five decades later.