Looking to lick a vintage set that includes a roster full of Hall of Famers but doesn’t stick you with a hefty bill? You might consider the 1974 Topps Stamps issue.
Lightly regarded for, well, being stamps, the 240-player set otherwise has everything collectors generally like.
Packaging and Distribution
The ’74 set wasn’t Topps’ first stamp rodeo. They had produced them as inserts in 1962 wax packs and a standalone set in 1969. Distributed in 10-cent wax packs, the 1 x 1 1/2″ stamps were issued on a perforated 12-player sheet folded to fit inside the pack. There were albums issued for each team, but they are very hard to find today.
There were 24 different sheets in a set. Each team was represented by 10 stamps, a very fair representation of the better players on each major league team and a very diplomatic move by Topps.
Some refer to it as a “test issue” and that’s fairly accurate. The 1974 Topps Stamps weren’t available everywhere.
1974 Topps Stamps Design
They are very colorful but with limited space, there wasn’t much Topps could do with the design. Most of the images are head shots. Below the player photo is an oval that contained the player’s name, team and his position. The different colors of the ovals along with the color photos create a very sharp look. The backs are blank.
Production woes hampered the project. The perforations are often misaligned, sometimes encroaching on the photo and the edges were sometimes cropped poorly.
The albums offer player photos and information inside and a collection of facsimile player autographs on the back. If you were a youngster in ’74, they provided a fun little project that didn’t take up much space in your room.
Here’s where collectors get their money’s worth. The 1974 Topps Stamps set is loaded with stars. Of the 240 players in the set, 32 are now in the Hall of Fame. Hank Aaron? Check. Nolan Ryan? Check. Johnny Bench? Check. It’s a long list. Even Dave Winfield and Dave Parker, whose rookie cards are in the ’74 card set, each have a “rookie stamp.”
The list of notable big leaguers who aren’t in the set isn’t a long one. There’s no Mike Schmidt, but to be fair, the Phils’ third baseman was still a very young player whose career had yet to blossom. Steve Garvey is a curious omission.
Interestingly, the set lists some players with the teams they had joined in the off-season but not others. Willie McCovey, traded by the Giants to the Padres on Oct. 25, 1973, is shown with his new team (albeit with a horribly airbrushed cap as in the Topps card set. As reader Eric Loy pointed out, it also has the Reggie Smith updated to show his joining the Cardinals on Oct. 26, 1973, but Jerry Reuss is still listed as an Astro despite the fact he’d been traded to the Pirates on Oct. 31.
“Given that the Reuss deal was reflected in an airbrush in the regular (card) set, this suggests that the stamps were made before the cards were,” he told us.
Collectors can choose to chase the ’74 Stamps in a couple of different ways. Uncut sheets of 12 are harder to find than individual stamps because most youngsters tore them apart as they were intended but they make for a nicer display. Complete sets on full sheets can usually be found for $100-$150; often less.
Individual stamps are usually sold inexpensively by single or lot. Graded single stamps can sell for strong prices to collectors piecing together player collections or complete sets in slabs.
You can see 1974 Topps Stamps for sale and auction on eBay by clicking here.