Baseball card collectors have had a love affair with Wheaties since the 1930s. A Babe Ruth flip book in 1932 preceded a card set the following year. By the 1960s, Wheaties had carved out its own niche among collectors.
The 1964 Wheaties baseball stamp set continued the tradition of offering stars. The 1964 mail-in promotion by General Mills consisted of 50 stamps, measuring 2 ½ inches-by-2¾ inches. The collection is chock full of Hall of Famers, with 18 men with Cooperstown plaques included in the set. Players like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline, Duke Snider and Harmon Killebrew are some of the big names in the set. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris are missing–perhaps a result of promotional deals with Post Cereal that had begun a few years earlier. Sandy Koufax is also absent.
The Wheaties stamps were released before the 1964 All-Star Game at Shea Stadium in New York, and the roster included the players who competed in the 1963 Midsummer Classic. The stamp design is very basic, with a full-color photo of players framed by a white border. A black-and-white facsimile autograph is also part of the stamp front. The backs are blank.
In addition to the stamps, a 48-page album was part of the mail-in offer. All a collector needed to do was send 50 cents and a certificate that was printed on specially marked Wheaties boxes. The orange-colored album, which measured 8 3/8 inches-by-11 inches, includes write-ups about every player, plus details about the All-Star Game and several major-league ballparks.
Finding stamps in high condition can be a challenge. Ideally, a collector would like to find uncut sheets; they were produced in five sheets of nine cards, plus one sheet of five. Many collectors in 1964 would separate the stamps and paste them into the album. Plus, stamp paper is flimsier than cardboard and is more susceptible to damage. If the stamps are exposed to any moisture, that could result in damage.
A total of 1,161 stamps have been sent to PSA for grading. Of those stamps, 137 have come back graded gem mint, while 270 earned PSA 9 grades.
Only 40 stamps have been sent to SGC for grading. Just two of those have graded as high as 96 — Roberto Clemente and Brooks Robinson.
There are also scores of eBay auctions offering stamps for sale in various conditions. There is a generous amount of gem mints on the eBay block.
The promotion continued into the fall with the 1964 Wheaties football stamps keeping kids occupied during the first half of the new school year.
Both sets offer star power and easy accessibility. If high grade is not an issue, then both can be assembled rather easily.