If you’ve been investing in cards at any point, you are aware of the axiom. Buy the best condition of the best cards you can afford. If, unlike the rest of us collectors, you are disciplined enough to actually just buy and sell these cards and do nothing more, then you are aware that certain cards and sets are more difficult to acquire in high-grade than other sets. But did you know there is only one major Topps issue from the past that does offer the chance to collect each card graded PSA 10?
In 1978, the hobby was just beginning to become organized and we were only one year away from the first Beckett price guides. We were even about a year away from the beginning of Baseball Hobby News and less than two years away from the gold and silver boom which brought up all prices of collectibles as part of the same boat. Yes, that included cards as many coin dealers and metal buyers used the profits, which were considerable, to fund purchases of vending and wax cases. Many of those coin dealers found card dealing was a lot of fun on several levels including a wider audience. Cards also had a major advantage in offering the chance to follow a young player’s progress through television, newspapers and magazines.
There is also little doubt Topps printed significantly more 1978 cards than they did in 1977. While some of the most popular cards in the set, especially the Paul Molitor/Alan Trammell rookie card, have been known to have production issues, there were enough of them produced that many do not. And unlike the Ozzie Smith rookie in 1979, which is notorious for terrible centering, no such issues are known for every copy of a 1978 card. Plus, 1978 is far enough away that submitters are willing to take chances if they believe a card is in superb condition but not so far away that there is still a passable amount of unopened and vending available. And of course, that combination has helped to make the mid to late 1970’s unopened market red hot in terms of prices in the secondary market.
While many can only dream of owning a “perfect set”, one member of the PSA Set Registry has achieved the goal, completing an entire 1978 set in ‘10’ holders. I know collectors who have kept their sets in “raw” condition and believe they have perfect sets as well, but generally it’s not going to work out that way. You’ll work hard and spend a lot of money in the effort to track down the best of the best, but even if you can come close on a vintage set (even if “vintage” means the disco era), you’ll have done something pretty special. So yes, keep searching and we’ll see if more “perfect’ sets are created in the future.