“Biggest Series Ever” screamed the packaging. Topps wasn’t lying.
While they’d pumped out a unique, three-series set in 1972–one that kept collectors hunting for high numbers well into the next four decades–the 528-card 1973 Topps football set was an unprecedented whopper. No, it wasn’t as big as the company’s last several baseball sets, but NFL fans had never seen one quite that big. It would take a lot of dimes to build a set, one that featured new guys like Ken Stabler and Franco Harris.
The latest edition of Vintage Pack Facts takes us back to the fall of ’73.
- The 1973 football set marked Topps’ final move away from dropping multiple series, spread over the course of a sports season. From here on out, everything came out at once.
- Most wax packs were still offering ten cards for a dime, but Topps also tested a 15-cent pack that had 15 cards in it. The latter packs are very scarce today. One of them, graded PSA 8, sold for over $2,000 through Mile High Card Company in May. The front of the dime packs advertised “Biggest Series Ever” while the 15-cent packs touted ’15 cards for 15 cents.’
- Standard wax boxes held 36 packs and the design had a definite 1970s flavor. The front panel promised a “team checklist in every pack” (they weren’t inside cello or rack packs) as well as the “Biggest Series Ever” campaign. We haven’t seen a box of 15-cent packs.
- The backs of the team checklists inside each wax pack doubled as puzzle pieces.
- There were four different wrapper designs, featuring illustrations of a quarterback, running back, receiver and linebacker. The side panels had offers for the Topps sports card locker or a 24×36 poster.
- More Pack Facts after the gallery…
- Topps also pushed out 25-cent cello packs with 24 cards per pack and 24 packs to a box. They’re very rare today.
- We haven’t seen a full rack pack box either, but there are numerous unopened rack packs in private collections and they do sometimes come up for auction. Rack packs held 54 cards and cost 39 cents, by far the best bargain for young collectors who could scrape up the dough. One pack, with no duplicates, held more than 10 percent of a full set.
- According to Mark Murphy’s 1990s book on vintage unopened packs, Topps also produced “tray packs” holding three 10-cent wax packs. These, too, are exceptionally scarce today.
- As usual, there were vending boxes distributed to the small number of dealers who existed at the time along with those who filled the five-cent sports card vending machines around the country. Several 500-card boxes have sold over the last ten years or so, the most recent selling for $5,251 in an August auction–more than double what they typically sold for 4-5 years ago and about four times the price you might have paid about eight years ago.
- While full boxes are tough to come by, graded packs, empty display boxes and wrappers can be found on eBay.
- Want more Vintage Pack Facts? Sit back, relax and enjoy them all here.
You can participate in a pack, box, or set break anytime at VintageBreaks.com which offers a variety of options across all years and sports.