If you grew up in the 1970s and 80s, last week’s news hit you like a ton of bricks. George Brett has turned 60. That sentence doesn’t even look right but the star of those great Kansas City Royals teams of the late 1970s and early 80s first saw big league action 40 years ago this coming August. Collectors have always appreciated him but some of the more obscure and high grade George Brett rookie cards have been growing in stature on the open market.
He doesn’t have dozens of different rookies like today’s stars but there’s more to the pile than just 1975 Topps #228 and it seems as if some of those harder to find first year Brett cards are capturing the attention of those looking for vintage value.
You can start with Topps’ Canadian colleagues at O-Pee-Chee. A PSA 9 OPC Brett sold last September for $1,426, reflecting a price rise of more than 100% over the last six years. A PSA 8 sold for a record price of $421 just over a week ago. That still seems like a bargain when you consider this chart comparing the quantity of each grade:
|1975 Topps||1975 OPC|
|PSA 10 8||PSA 10 3|
|PSA 9 177||PSA 9 15|
|PSA 8 1874||PSA 8 27|
Obviously, the 1975 OPC cards were printed in far fewer numbers and while they’re not as popular as the traditional Topps issue, it’s fairly easy to see why investing on the rare occasions when they come up for sale may not be a bad idea.
The 1975 Topps minis, issued only in a couple of different areas of the country, are not rare, but PSA 9 Brett rookies have nearly doubled in sales prices over the last year, from about $450 on average to well over $800, a price that puts them almost on par with the regular card. As of late last week, there were 126 mini Bretts on the PSA Population Report compared to 177 of the Topps version.
Then there’s the somewhat controversial 1975 SSPC ‘Pure Card’ set. Not sold in packs and quietly left to history after Topps challenged the legality, vintage collectors still have some respect for the issue. While it’s categorized as a ’75 set on PSA’s Set Registry, the actual date these were issued is a point of some controversy with many indicating it should be classified as a ’76. Nonetheless, Brett’s SSPC rookie card has shown surprising strength lately.
Make that “cards”. Brett appears twice: on a regular issue card (#167) and a checklist card which features a goofy image of a wild-eyed young George mugging for the photographer while teammate Al Cowens grins. The regular issue Brett card in a ‘10’ has doubled and sometimes tripled in value over the last three years, yet still trades at under $40 most of the time. PSA 9s are less than $10.
The checklist card with that crazy image (and Al Cowens’ name misspelled) is rarely graded. The Registry shows only 27 PSA 10s and 38 9s with 9s often available at under $15.
As for the regular issue 1975 Topps #228, PSA 10s are rarely sold while 9s will vary greatly, selling for anywhere from $525 to $825 in the last few years. The best strategy may be to bargain hunt on this one, which one could conceivably expect to rise above $1,000 in the not too distant future considering fewer than 200 exist.
The 1975 Brett and 1973 Mike Schmidt are on the 1970s rookie card Mt. Rushmore but sometimes it’s best to look for value on the cards that orbit around the mainstream issue.