The 1970s were a quirky time for baseball card collectors.
There were so many oddball choices: scratch-off s, 3-D, comics, posters, cloth stickers, Supers, Pin-Ups, stamps and puzzles and magazine panels.
Perhaps one of the more unusual offerings is the 1973 Topps Candy Lids. This oddball set was part of a tub of bubble gum that weighed .095 of an ounce. Known officially as “Baseball Stars Bubble Gum,” this product had collectors literally flipping their lids, and at 10 cents per tub it was a pretty good deal.
The 55-lid set included a whopping 25 future Hall of Famers, plus Pete Rose. The lids measured 1 7/8 inches in diameter, and the player’s image was on the underside of the lid. The player’s name is at the bottom of the lid, along with his position and team, enclosed in a ribbon-like banner. Team logos were airbrushed off the players’ caps, and the photos were ringed by different colors to try and spice up the visual appeal.
Some of the other Hall of Famers in the set besides Ryan are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Johnny Bench, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, Tom Seaver and Carl Yastrzemski. Other stars include Thurman Munson, Mickey Lolich, Bobby Bonds, Lou Piniella and Manny Sanguillen.
Centering has always been a problem with the lids, and those that are centered well command a higher premium. Mid-grade examples of the Hall of Famers usually start at $100 and that’s about the best grade one can reasonably expect. The key lid in the series is Angels pitcher Nolan Ryan. The highest graded Ryan is a PSA 7.
Of the 1,388 lids submitted to PSA for grading, only one — of White Sox pitcher Wilbur Wood — was returned as a gem mint specimen. In fact, only 16 have been graded PSA 9, including a Wood that is currently being offered on eBay.
Collectors can also find lids that were produced without borders, perhaps a a test run that dates to a few months earlier. A similar run took place in 1970 as Topps dabbled in the concept that eventually hit the market in 1973, albeit on a very limited basis.
1973 Topps Candy Lids can be found in decent shape and for a decent price if you’re willing to shp around for ungraded examples or those in the 3-5 range.
As of this writing, there are more than 150 lids currently available eBay.