Looking at the overall value of the set or the prices paid for Mickey Mantle rookie cards can scare some people off, but it’s possible to collect 1952 Topps baseball cards and not dip into your retirement account.
No matter if you decide to piece together as much of the set as you possibly can or just certain elements, there’s no need to avoid chasing what may be one of the most satisfying and challenging experiences you’ll have.
If you look at cards that have been professionally graded as VG-EX (4) or EX (5), you’ll note that many are very pleasing to the eye. If I were starting to collect the set and had a limited budget, that’s the condition range I’d probably pursue. Yes, it’s possible to acquire the set much faster by going after lower grade cards, but I still prefer to not have my cards full of creases, badly rounded corners or other issues. It’s such an attractive set that it seems a shame not to be at least a little particular—at least with the commons and minor stars.
1952 Topps cards are oversized and prone to condition issues, but by shopping around carefully, and focusing on graded cards, you can eliminate some of the guesswork and build a collection worth collecting and displaying. Some collectors shy away from mid-grade cards and “4”, “5” and even “6” graded examples often sell for well below the established price guide value. You may not find huge bargains among the high numbers because of competition, but start with the first three series and you’ll build a nice grouping.
Buying graded or ungraded in lots via auction is a smart way to build too. Just be sure you ask questions about the grade of the cards if it’s a concern to you. Many collectors try to build a set and give up, figuring it’s a lost cause. Jump on those lots (you can find some here) and you’ll often get a good deal.
If collecting the complete set just isn’t in the cards (sorry), you can always decide to just enjoy building a team set, a collection of affordable Hall of Famers like Richie Ashburn or Monte Irvin or you can get a little more creative and use the set to tell the story of the season.
Cards of the MVPs of the 1952 season are pretty reasonable. Bobby Shantz was the AL MVP and Hank Sauer of the Cubs won the NL award for a great year at the plate. Both can be found in EX to NM condition for under $100. Carl Erskine and Virgil Trucks threw no-hitters in ’52 and their cards are also reasonably priced. Robin Roberts was the Player of the Year and Ferris Fain led the AL in hitting. Bob Feller’s ’52 Topps card is very reasonably priced. The Hall of Famer threw a 1-hitter in 1952—and lost 1-0 to Bob Cain who did the same. Click here to see their cards on eBay.
1952 Topps cards really mark the dawn of modern baseball card collecting history and just holding a few in your hand is a lot of fun when you think about what they represent. The set is a landmark but it doesn’t have to be strictly for guys with a lot of discretionary income.