A few weeks ago I dropped by my local card store (Triple Cards in Plano TX) and discussed the new Topps Heritage ’51 set. The store had pre-sold its entire order and would be sold out upon delivery.
Now, any time you have a guaranteed sell out as a dealer that is always a good problem to have. A successful release helps to make up for some of bad products every dealer gets stuck with during the year. And that does not mean that those products are necessarily bad. It might be a case of something released at a bad time and getting lost in a shuffle just like during the December 2014 situation when more than a dozen new releases arrived in a span of just a few weeks.
Heritage ’51 is a throwback to the dawn of Topps as a card manufacturer, when it produced the “Red Back” and “Blue Back” series that were sold in packs and via packaged sets. Even the box aims to duplicate the original.
The legendary 1952 set came out the very next year and collectors have been clamoring for those cards ever since but while high-grade examples of the ’51 originals sell well, the sets never really have been a huge collector favorite. Whether that was because of the odd size, the game design or the lack of a Mantle or Mays, it’s hard to say. The Red Backs were reasonably easy while the Blue Back set has always been a little tougher.
Topps didn’t exactly stay true to those 64-year-old sets with Heritage 51 Collection, though. The base set was created in the size of modern era cards rather than the smaller originals. Each box has one autographed card and 21 mini parallels that are in the size of the original Red and Blue Backs. There are also some parallel versions with different color backs.
Currently, unopened boxes of Heritage 51 Collection are available for $75-80 online.
The box we received from Topps did include all 104 base cards, plus these:
Red Back Mini Parallel: Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Correa, Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Harvey, Jon Lester, Starling Marte, David Oritz, Michael Pineda, James Shields, Devon Travis
Blue Back: Mini Parallel: Jose Bautista, Carlos Correa, Clayton Kershaw, Taijuan Walker, Christian Yelich
Green Back Mini Parallel: Byron Buxton, Andrew McCutchen, Joc Pederson
Black Back Mini Parallel: Starlin Castro, Hanley Ramirez
Gold Back: Aroldis Chapman
Autograph (#d to 250): Jake Lamb
As someone who likes these tributes to early sets, I liked the fact that Topps actually chose to make it. I do wish they’d have stayed completely true to the original size and dimensions but it’s a simple, clean product. Note that the base set is nicely set up like the original 1951 sets and then the parallels and the autograph card give it a crossover appeal for today’s buyers.
It was nice to pull two Correa cards (I’m a little surprised to see these aren’t selling for more than a couple bucks on eBay). Jake Lamb is not one of the better autographs to pull but the checklist is only 25 players so your odds of pulling a better player are hopefully better than mine. Overall, Heritage 51 may be on the pricey side overall if you’re chasing hits but I’ll give Topps points for creating a tribute to an important set in hobby history.
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