It was a moment that made collectors of vintage cards a little weak in the knees. That 2006 episode of Antiques Road Show is buried somewhere in the broadcasting archives–or maybe lost to time–but the story lives on. A woman had come to the show (it had been videotaped in 2005) with 312 1958 Topps football cello packs that had somehow been salvaged from her father’s old grocery store.
They were glorious. A Unitas on top of one. A Starr perched atop another. With well over 3,000 cards in the find, surely there were 20 or more Jim Brown rookie cards hiding inside. Eventually they wound up in a few auctions and have scattered to the wind.
In this week’s edition of Vintage Pack Facts from VintageBreaks.com , we delve into that series, issued 60 years ago this fall.
- After a wacky sort of dual photo horizontal design in ’57, Topps went more traditional the next year. The 1958 Topps football set was standard size, designed vertically and limited to 132 cards in a single series.
- Nearly one out of every four cards in the set is a Hall of Famer.
- In addition to Jim Brown, the set also includes Sonny Jurgensen’s rookie and second-year cards of Unitas and Starr. Paul Hornung, featured as a rookie in ’57, wasn’t included in the 1958 set with his career off to a difficult start in Green Bay.
- Because of their dark coloring which reveals small flaws such as scuffing, common centering issues and overall age, 1958 Topps football cards are a bit hard to find in high-grade. Less than two percent of all graded cards have rated 9 or 10.
- The cards were sold in penny packs, nickel packs and 12-card cello packs. There was no printing on the front of the cellos, which had their own type of box that included pricing information.
- 1958 Topps nickel pack wax cases held 24 boxes. There were 24 packs per box.
- In 2015, a 1958 Topps cello pack with Jim Brown on the front, graded 7 by PSA, sold for $4,302. That same year, a pack with Unitas on the front graded 6, sold for $475 via Huggins and Scott.
- Some packs from the find shown on Antiques Roadshow wound up being sold through Heritage Auctions. A group of 60 sold for $14,340 in 2007; a group of 47 more went for $22,705 two years later and a third group of 36 sold in 2011 for $10,755.
- In 2017, an unopened wax box was found in Oklahoma, one saved from an old candy business and stored inside the original Topps shipping carton. The box sold for $156,000. That discovery led to a second box being consigned to the company’s recently completed auction. It went for $132,000. The empty case went for $1,800.
- Only five Jim Brown rookie cards have ever been graded 9 by PSA and none by SGC. There have been two sales of PSA 9 Brown cards in the last two years–one at $336,000 and another at $358,500. In 2010, a 9 sold for $29,257. Not a bad investment. Could one of those packs that remain unopened hold the first 10?
Check out Wednesday night’s ’59 cello break –and one done at the National a few years back.