Top 10 Joe Montana Cards for Any Budget

Top 10 Joe Montana Cards for Any Budget

While many may debate the order, Joe Montana is clearly among the top quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. Joe Montana ended his career with the Kansas City Chiefs, but the former great is most remembered for his days with the San Francisco 49ers. Despite retiring in the mid-1990s, Joe Montana cards remain very popular with collectors.

Joe Montana's immense popularity stems from several things that combine to make him of the greatest and most collectable football players of all-time. First, his individual and team accolades put him in a special class of players. Montana finished his career with eight Pro Bowl selections and two regular season AP MVP awards, along with four Super Bowl titles and three Super Bowl MVPs. He is also helped by his association with the 49ers and Notre Dame fan bases. Lastly, Joe Montana developed a reputation as a player who came up big in the most important games.  This was very evident based on his dominant play in multiple Super Bowl wins.

Like many top players from the 1980's and 90's, Joe Montana's cardboard life is split into two different periods. His playing days were limited to mostly base and plain insert cards, while his modern cards follow the current trends, and are heavy on autographs. The earliest Joe Montana cards and modern autographs are some of the most popular cards for collectors.

Top Joe Montana Cards

1981 Topps Joe Montana RC #216

Continuing the Topps pattern of airbrushed logos, 1981 Topps received a tremendous boost from the Joe Montana rookie card. As the sole rookie for the Hall of Fame QB, this is easily one of the most popular rookie cards of the decade. The thin green border clashes with the red and yellow text box, but the design works despite being from  a 40-year-old product. Gem Mint copies carry an incredible premium.

1981 Topps Joe Montana RC 213x300 Image

1982 Topps Joe Montana #488

Already looking like a seasoned veteran in his second season, "Joe Cool" stands on the sidelines, taking a call with a coach in the booth. The card features a more ambitious design, including a helmet noting the team and a banner text box. Joe Montana actually has three cards in 1982 Topps, including a dual Passing Leaders card with Ken Anderson, as well as a card in the In Action subset.

1982 Topps Joe Montana 488  213x300 Image

1983 Topps Joe Montana #169

Marking a significant change in design, the 1983 Topps Joe Montana card cuts down considerably on the information provided on the card front. The team city, San Francisco, is nowhere to be found and the Topps logo even sat this year out. An oversized 49ers text covers the top of the card and a bright yellow text box occupies the bottom. Rounding out the card, an open-mouthed image of Montana fills in the middle. Regardless of the questionable design choices, the card is a great budget option from early in Joe Montana' career.

1983 Topps Joe Montana 169 212x300 Image

1984 Topps Joe Montana #358

Although 1984 Topps is more notable for two rookie quarterbacks who made their card debut, Joe Montana adds to the legendary checklist centered around Dan Marino and John Elway. Diagonal lines frame the card in a off-center manner and pertinent information is presented in an upward angle, from left to right.

1984 Topps Joe Montana 358 212x300 Image

1985 Topps Joe Montana #157

1985 Topps card for Joe Montana immediately stands out because of the horizontal layout and black border. The intense warmup image of Montana works well with his reputation and the large text combines with the overall look to create a lasting impression.

1985 Topps Joe Montana 157 Image

1986 Topps Joe Montana #156

While the rookie card for Jerry Rice is is most commonly associated with 1986 Topps, the man who threw many of those touchdowns to Rice over the years still remains an appealing option. The diagonal green and white border may not work for everyone, but the distinct look has a legion of fans. The only disappointing thing is the image choice for Montana. It is hard to believe that the "upset stomach" look was the best photo they had.

1986 Topps Joe Montana 156 213x300 Image

1991 Upper Deck Heroes Joe Montana #9 Autograph #/2,500

Part of a ten-card insert set that honored Joe Montana, 2,500 cards from 1991 Upper Deck Heroes carry the gunslinger's signature. The card shown below is the checklist from the set, and includes four different images of Montana in a portrait by Vernon Wells..

1991 Upper Deck Heroes Joe Montana 9 Autograph Image

1996 Upper Deck Game Jersey Joe Montana #GJ3

As one of the very first relic cards, 1996 Upper Deck Game Jerseys have already carved a place in collecting history. But when you include the jersey card for the recently-retired Joe Montana, it takes it to another level. The value is furthered by the tough 1:2,500 pack odds for the ten-card set.

1996 Upper Deck Game Jerseys Joe Montana 212x300 Image

2013 Topps Triple Threads Triple Relic Autograph Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice #/27

Certainly not the first card to combine the signatures for the three San Francisco greats, 2013 Topps Triple Threads is among the most recent. The three Hall of Fame signatures are paired with small circular jersey piece and limited print run.

2013 Topps Triple Threads Triple Relic Autograph Joe Montana Steve Young Jerry Rice Image

2013 Topps Museum Collection Joe Montana Autographs

Rounding out the list, two Joe Montana autographs in 2013 Topp Museum Collection are getting plenty of attention from collectors. Signature Series Autographs feature an on-card signature and multiple parallels, including gold and silver ink. Even more popular, Framed Silver Ink Autographs apply a quality design and more limited print run along with a thick silver signature.

2013 Topps Museum Collection Joe Montana Signature Series Autographs 216x300 Image2013 Topps Museum Collection Joe Montana Framed Autographs 214x300 Image

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1984 Topps Joe Montana #358 and #359 mint
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1993 Oddball "Glory Days" Joe Montana B64394
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1995 Upper Deck Silver Signature Electric Silver #135 Joe Montana CPC B64404
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1987 Topps Joe Montana #112 Graded an 8.5 by BGS!
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1987 Topps Joe Montana #112 Graded a 9 by BGS!
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1981 Topps Joe Montana RC #216 MINT OC
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1990 Topps Football Unopened Box - Dan Marino, John Elway, Joe Montana
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1982 topps #488 JOE MONTANA 2nd year BGS 9 9 8.5 9.5
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1982 topps #488 JOE MONTANA 2nd year BGS 8.5 9 9.5 9
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Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, Pieces of NFL Jerseys, 44 250
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1982 TOPPS #488 JOE MONTANA NM *760475
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1994 Pro Line Live Joe Montana auto autograph #D831 920 *25949
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1999 SP Signature Montana Signature Performances #J9A Joe Montana Auto
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1994 SP Holoviews #PB17 Joe Montana Chiefs B64446
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2002 Upper Deck Super Bowl Card Show #18 Peyton Manning Auto 150 500
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2004 SP Authentic Sign of the Times #SOTPM Peyton Manning Auto
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Trey Treutel

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Trey Treutel is an Ole Miss grad and a lifelong sports fanatic. He is a huge fan of the NBA and NFL, as well as soccer, college basketball and college football. As a kid, he collected football and basketball cards. As an adult, he started collecting basketball cards again on a whim, and has since expanded to other sports and entertainment options. Find Trey on Twitter at @datreute.

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