Like Major League Baseball itself, Topps was in an expansion mode in the early 1970s. The company went from producing a 720 card set in 1970 to 752 in 1971 and then really put the onus on young set builders by cranking out a whopping 787 different cards in 1972.
It all started with a late winter release of Series 1 and wouldn’t end until the fall when the 7th Series finally made its way into five and dime shops, drug stores, grocery stores and anywhere else the company’s salesmen could place them.
This week’s edition of Vintage Pack Facts from VintageBreaks.com focuses on the mod-looking ’72 Topps packs with a special emphasis on that first series.
- Pack prices remained steady in 1972 with wax packs at 10 cents, the third and final year of boxed cello packs (30 cards in each) costing a quarter and 54-card rack packs available in some places for 39 cents.
- Wax and cello boxes held 24 packs.
- After years of putting inserts into packs as a bonus, Topps did away with the concept in ’72, focusing, perhaps on the size of the main set and some fresh elements like ‘In Action’ and ‘Boyhood Photos of the Stars.’
- Topps tried to match the popular lettering styles of the era, both in its packaging and on the card designs themselves. Some collectors no doubt thought they were ‘groovy.’
- While the high numbers tend to captivate set builders today, the first series had to grab kids’ attention at the time. It’s loaded. There are seven Hall of Famers among the 132 cards and that’s not counting the ‘In Action’ cards. Opening a pack gives you a pretty fair shot at one with the Carlton Fisk/Cecil Cooper rookie the biggest prize. A PSA 10 is valued at over $12,000 with 9s at $750. Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Joe Morgan, Harmon Killebrew and Bob Gibson are the other Cooperstown enshrinees. The first series also boasts the leader cards that also have some star power.
- Price guide values on unopened 1972 Topps wax packs are fairly similar, regardless of series, ranging from $75 for a ‘5’ grade to $475 for a 9.
- You can see wrappers, packs and display boxes for sale on eBay here.