1975 Topps Mini Baseball Cards; Flawed, Scarce...& Enamored by Collectors
Today, we are going to take a fun ride together back to 1975, no bell-bottoms or disco ball required! To that, I promise!
What started out as a test across a few states, grew into a cult-like following, with popularity among investors that has spiked of late.
It was literally a carbon copy of the main set, but the cards were approximately 20% the size of the mother/base set.
What cards am talking about? The 1975 Topps Mini Baseball Card Set, of course!!
Some notable cards stand out on the lips of any baseball card collector when they hear the words "1975 Topps Mini" uttered, and their thoughts sway to the mini George Brett and Robin Yount Rookie Cards. That's followed with a chaser of Jim Rice, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, and the Hank Aaron cards that start and end the set, in light of his major Home Run milestone accomplishment of passing Babe Ruth on the All-Time Home Run Leaders list in 1974.
These scarce cards are tough finds to begin with, and even more-so in mint condition, because, similar to the 1971 Topps solid Black border that chipped and showed cardboard easily, the rainbow of colors that form the borders of the 1975 Topps Minis suffer the same existence. Add to that some bad color mixes and smudging, and also, the imprecise sheet-cutting of the time (making for off-center and diamond-cut cards), and you have a tough find if you are looking for Gem Mint Cards.
Talk about a test run...you would think Topps would have been more careful, but a lot of these cards left the factory disheveled, in terms of cut and other factory flaws usually weeded out via the old "Inspector #5" method. I believe there was a certain color combination that was more likely to have issues, such as size, but I was not sure of which combo. I believe it was one of the combos with Yellow in it. If you know, please chime in with your comments below.
One example, per PSACard.com, is the #647 card of Claudell Washington, which at the time they wrote their article, only one PSA 9 was found, and no PSA 10's. Another card is the #16 card of Frank Tanana, of which there are just two in PSA 9 or better. We have an amazing Tanana card, ungraded, and we have made that card available on CardboardandCoins.com
Some other cards, per PSA, that have been scant in the high-level grades are the George Brett Rookie Card (#228), and also the last card, Hank Aaron (#660), the latter of which shows up often as diamond cut.
Prices run somewhat higher than the standard size cards from 1975, yet, there are a few players that flip flop between being more expensive as a mini and more expensive as a base set card.
Overall, there is an inverse relationship, because as more folks are investing in these, the scarcity increases.
On a personal level, I love the 1975 Topps Minis, and they are truly an Epic part of the baseball card collecting landscape. Within a few more years, I am positive that these cards will be viewed in the category of "Elite" cards, in the company of the 1952 Topps Set and other such pillars of our hobby. Mini cards are issued each year now, but the imitations always pale in comparison to the real father of Minis, the 1975 Topps Mini cards.
Per PSA's price guide, you can notice some of the more expensive commons, and we have listed a few NM & close to NM rare cards for your review, including:
#16 Frank Tanana (Rookie Card)
#246 St. Louis Cardinals Team Card with Red Schoendienst (Deceased)
#253 Jesus Alou
#306 1974 Batting Leaders (Carew/Garr)
#545 Billy Williams, a HOF'er
What are your thoughts on the 1975 Topps Mini set?
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