The Evolution of Topps Baseball Cards: 1952-2011

The Evolution of Topps Baseball Cards: 1952-2011

From 1952 Topps to 2011 Topps, we take a look at 60 years of Topps Baseball card designs. When you've produced cards for as long as Topps has, you wind up with a mix of good years, bad years, so-so years, off years, on years, downright ugly years, amazingly attractive years, futuristic years, simple years and everything in between.

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2004 Topps Series 2 Hobby Box Free Shipping!
$45.00
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2013 Topps Baseball Hobby box
$34.95
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2014 TOPPS HERITAGE HOBBY BASEBALL 12 BOX CASE
$770.00
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2011 TOPPS ALLEN & GINTER HOBBY BASEBALL - 2 BOX LOT 3 HITS PER BOX
$139.00
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2014 TOPPS ALLEN & GINTER BASEBALL HOBBY SEALED BOX
$104.95
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2 Box Lot of 2006 Topps Series 2 Baseball Cards Hobby
$72.00
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2001 TOPPS BASEBALL FACTORY SEALED "HOBBY " SET 790 CARDS SERIES 1
$29.99
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2014 TOPPS SERIES 1 BASEBALL HOBBY BOX
$71.95



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Brett Lewis

E-Mail Author |  http://www.cardboardconnection.com
Brett is a former contributor to The Cardboard Connection.

User Comments

  1. I am personally partial to the 1991 set. It wasn’t particularly attractive or futuristic, but that was the year as a 9 year-old boy I fell in love with baseball and began collecting cards. Topps was always the best brand to get, for the wonderfully stale bubble gum that came in each pack, and the hopes of landing a Jose Canseco card. I still have those cards today.

  2. I think my favorite is the 1987 set. I loved the wood panel look and it is also when my Twins won their first World Series. All my friends were collecting at the time and it was a fun year to trade along with some good rookies. Least favorite is probably the 1990. Never like the design, colors, etc. Just my 2 cents.

  3. My favorite would be 2010. The reason being is this is the year that my two sons became interested in card collecting and it has been a true joy collecting with them and watching their excitement in opening packs to get thier favorite player, refractor, auto or other neat insert.
    My least favorite is the year that I started collecting, 1976. I cant explain…a close second is 1979.

  4. Very cool…fun to see all the different years of designs. I like the new 2011’s…those look sweet!
    2000 and 2002 would be favorites as well cause I remember getting some sweet Twins base cards of Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones! LOL

    Some of the older ones like 1991 and 92 are sweet too…

    Least favorite…I don’t know some of the older ones are real ugly LOL but I think 1994…just really never been a fan.

    Nice work…this is sweet

  5. My favorite is the 1973 Set. The design seems well before it’s time, sans all the ugly color combos, and with a few tweaks and come better stock could be mistaken for a modern card. My least favorite is the 1997 set. Sometimes simplicity is a good thing, but in this case it isn’t. Bad color combos and the outline/bold nameplate at the bottom just looks weird.

  6. I’ve always been a fan of the 1980 design. It’s simple, but adds just enough with the banner-style design.

    On the other hand, the 1990 set is truly one of the worst I’ve ever seen.

    Thanks for the contest!

  7. 1969. Clean. Nice shots nearly maximum photo size.

  8. I would have to say my personal favorite is the 1982 the year the cardinals won it all or the 84 edition it just looks great and the double pic is one my favorite feature, but the the top two worst got to be the 87 and 90 I guess im not for wood panel or “comic” cards you cards that look like they should be in a comic not on a topps major league baseball card. thanks and hope the future of card collecting never dies!

  9. Personally my favorite is a toss up between 1953 and 1965, lease favorite is most of the 90’s really with 1994 the worst, just hurts the eyes to look at

  10. Best – 1987 because thats the first cards I remember opening and collecting

    Worst – 1994 the cursive hand writing for the names was just hard to read, and the design was just plain ugly

  11. Sentimental favorite is 1977, I was 7 and it was my first year collecting. I still love those cards. Favorite design, leaving sentiment out of it, would be 1953. Least favorite, the 1990 set was hideous. What were they thinking?

  12. My favorite set would have to be 1987. I love the wood grain borders and it included a great rookie crop.

    Least favorite would be 1990. I’m still unsure if Topps produced this set or if it was Crayola!

  13. Favorite would be the 1960, i just like the way they have the names of the players
    1995 would be a close secound i rember getting packs of these as a gift for doing good in school. always a favorite year of mine.
    Least would be the 2002 even though its Mauers Rookie i cant stand the gold boarder, clsoe secound would be the 87 wood paneling

  14. The Best is 2010 hands down. The refractor autos are beautiful and the colors capativating to buyers. It does Justice to baseball card collectors. The least would be 1972 topps. The card looks wayyyy to disco with the letterhead. They took a wrong turn there.

  15. I’m partial to 1971. The black border adds another dimension to the card.

  16. My favorite has to be 1981 b/c that is when I first really got into collecting. My older brother worked at a 7-11 and would bring me packs home after each shift that he worked.

    Worst? Anything produced during the strike years of the 90’s.

    Thanks for running this contest!!

  17. My favorite by far has to be the 1952 set. My Daddy would tell me story after story about those cards and how my Grandmother trashed them. I used to love trading cards at a local shop every sat. from open to close. Nothing comes close to opening up a pack of cards and not knowing what might be pulled out. I just now started collecting again and know now why I started in the first place. God bless Topps! You have given me so many memories to pass on to my own kids and hopefully their kids as well. Again, Thank you all so much. It’s been a blast. Oh yeah, as far as my least favorite year, I can’t think of a single one. They all played a part of my favorite past time. Your cards are as american as apple pie and the game itself!

  18. My favorite “vintage” 1956, 1960 and 1969. I love the design of 56 and 60. I also really like the photography from 69.

    My favorite “modern” 1989 simple classic design. Mixes vintage design with a bit of a modern twist.
    I also really like the 2011 The photography looks great and its a nice classic design in my opinion.

    My least favorites would be 1975 that green and purple border is awful. 1990 same as 75 terrible border. 1998 is pretty bad. 1954 looks like they tried to cram too much on the card but its decent. 1959 I’m not a fan of the overall design.

    Thanks for the contests you guys do. Keep up the good work.

  19. My favorite year is 1956. They’re unique in sevaral ways that make them stand out as a one of a kind design. Slightly larger in size, horizontal, close-up and action shot of each player with autograph. The “halo” around each head shot. And, who doesn’t like to read tha cartoons on the back?!
    Least favorite is 1973. That generic looking ball player in the lower corner has always bugged me

  20. I would have to say ’85 it was a fairly basic design with green backs but that was the year I started collecting baseball cards. Nice to see all the years of different designs. Hard to say which design is best…I think they mean something different to everyone who collected/collects cards.

  21. Aesthetic favorite: 1970 or 1966
    Sentimental favorite: 1986

  22. I love 1952 because it was the first year baseball cards went from plain small photos to large color photos. My least favorite year is 1988, very plain and ugley.

  23. My favorite set is 1959. When I was a kid I had the complete set.

    Least favorite would have to be the 1970, 74, and 78 set.

    The 2011 set looks promissing.

  24. Favorite is 1969 – Miracle Mets !!!!

    Least favorite is 1957 – Dodgers and Giants leave NY. and cards were terrible to look at that year.

  25. Any of the 1952 Topps (Mickey) set through 1972 (Nolan) sets are amazing ~ I could sit and stare at them all day, ha! I do appreciate the 1971 set around this time because of the fragile edges of the design. Topps 1973 seemed to introduce a more modern template but I will always cherish any set from 1976 – 1987, when life was simple–and I was still collecting! Some sets were worse than the Old White Sox uniforms, while others seemed as though we were collecting gold and silver rather than baseball cards. We have all been through the “steroid” and “mass production” era’s (as we have watched Fleer and Donruss fade away), but Topps will always be the best to me–I didn’t collect to sell them anyway. I still buy a set of Topps every year and have kept the “old” cherished collection.
    Thank you for the memories Topps…

  26. My favorite Topps design is 1959. Very colorful and vivid photography. I like the multiple player cards as well. This is the year I started collecting as a young sandlot player in Toronto Canada.

  27. The 1956 set was the last of the original size and incorporated an artsy and unique background instead of just a solid color, the tiny player in action, a signiture and an up close picture…all in one fantastic looking card The 1990 set seemed juvenile in appearance.

  28. 1969 had superior photography.
    1959 had great color and imagination.
    1965,1966,1967 were solid years as well. All years after 1975 are quite bad in production quality and investment value, altho if you enjoy them then its fine for you.

  29. My all-time favorite is the 95: It was the set that got me hooked when I was young. There’s just something about the design that caught my eye and I’ve been a fan since. Other good ones: 87, 95, 05, 09, 11

    Besides the other early 90 ones, I’m not a fan of the 2010 version. The colors just seemed way too saturated and the photos look overly Photoshopped. I’m happy to say that the past two sets have been much better. Also now a fan of the 2007 set, the imperfections show up way too easily.

  30. All the Topps cards from the 70’s are my favorites.

    90-95 are all pretty bad.

    1982 might be the worst, while 1980, 1983, 1985 and 1986 are terrific.

    I always thought 1987 was overrated. Some people see beautiful, real hardwood in the background. I see cheap paneling from a double-wide.

  31. 1955 is the coolest for me. I just decided I’m going to collect them all from that year, and it was the year my dad was born.

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