1963 Topps Astronauts Trading Cards

1963 Topps Astronauts Trading Cards

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1963 Topps Astronauts is a historical look at the beginning of the space travel in the United States. Long a topic of fantasy, the 1960s saw it become a reality. While the set focuses most prominently on the historical background of the space program, it also blends in elements of fantasy through illustrations used on the 3-D card backs.

The 55-card set looks at the Project Mercury program, which was the American side of the space race with the USSR. Running from 1959 to 1963, it saw the first Americans reach outer space and orbit the earth. Cards go relatively in depth, at least as far as a small set of trading cards can, into the key astronauts in the program, their training and the gear they used. In particular, Alan Shepard, John Glenn and Virgil Grissom figure prominently in the set. Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Walter Schirra and Donald Slayton are other astronauts to appear on the checklist. President John F. Kennedy is also on a card.

1963 Topps Astronauts card fronts are dominated by a photo. Most showing training exercises, although machines and astronaut portraits are also included in the artwork. The bottom of the card has a yellow box that holds a red headline caption and a short description. The corner of the box has a moon icon with the card number inside.

Card backs are very different. They have a 3-D illustration. They aren't focused so much on Project Mercury. Instead, they imagine some of the feats humans might be able to accomplish through space travel. It's a sci-fi turn for a set that is otherwise based in reality. A pair of 3-D glasses comes in every 1963 Topps Astronauts wax pack.

1963 Topps Astronauts Popsicle Backs are a rare variation on the set. Instead of a 3-D image, the cards have a blue back with several space-themed illustrations like stars, planets and a rocket. The middle of the card includes an ad for Popsicles from the Joe Lowe Corporation. Popsicle Backs are more difficult to find than the 3-D backs and command a premium on the secondary market.

1963 Topps Astronauts 31 Back 260x182 Image 1963 Topps Astronauts 15 Popsicle Back 260x182 Image

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Set Checklist

1963 Topps Astronauts Checklist

55 cards.

1 Picking the Astronaut Team
2 Floating Astronauts
3 Testing the Chimps
4 In Orbit
5 Recovery Training
6 Space Explorers
7 The Seven Astronauts
8 Takeoff Inspection
9 Training the Astronaut
10 Astronaut Alan Shepard
11 The First US Astronaut
12 Awaiting the Take-Off
13 Shepard in Space
14 Picking Up Shepard
15 Successful Recovery
16 Carrying the Capsule
17 Back from Space
18 Astronaut Virgil Grissom
19 Reporting New Information
20 Spacesuit Checkup
21 Grissom in Space
22 Putting on a Space Helmet
23 Putting on His Parachute
24 Grissom in a Pressure Suit
25 Final Checkup
26 Grissom Awaits Countdown
27 Grissom Gets Ready
28 2nd US Spaceman
29 Grissom Blasts Off
30 Grissom in Space
31 Mercury Atlas 4
32 Astronaut John Glenn
33 Glenn and the F-106
34 Space hero
35 Glenn & Grissom
36 Taking a Break
37 Rest Day for Glenn
38 Getting Into the Suit
39 Checking His Suit
40 Inside the Test Chamber
41 Glenn in Training
42 Posing for Photographers
43 Studying His Maps
44 Before Glenn's Take-Off
45 Glenn in Space
46 1st Man in Orbit
47 Glenn Meets the President
48 Our 1st Spacemen
49 Astronaut Carpenter
50 Carpenter Checks His Suit
51 Astronaut Donald Slayton
52 Astronaut Gordon Cooper
53 Astronaut Walter Schirra
54 Astronauts in Flight Suits
55 Checklist
1963 Topps Astronauts 54 Image


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Ryan's collecting origins began with winter bike rides to the corner store, tossing a couple of quarters onto the counter and peddling home with a couple packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey in his pocket. Today, he continues to build sets, go after inserts with cool technologies, chase Montreal Expos and finish off his John Jaha master collection. Ryan can be found on Twitter @tradercracks and Google+.

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