Officially, Hank Aaron is number two on the all-time career home run list. However, many still consider the Braves legend to be baseball's home run king. Hank Aaron cards remain a staple both on the vintage side of the hobby as well as in modern releases with a steady flow of autographs and other premium inserts.
Hank Aaron's major league career lasted 23 years, virtually all of which was with the Braves organization. He started in Milwaukee and went with the team when they moved to Atlanta in 1966. "Hammerin' Hank's" 755 career home runs rank second only to Barry Bonds. Aaron's 2,297 RBIs and 6,856 total bases are records that still stand today.
Since his rookie card in 1954 Topps Baseball, there have been thousands of different Hank Aaron cards to chase. While cards from his playing days hold a particular appeal, there's something to be said for the cards that have come out in the years that followed. Autographs, memorabilia cards and rare inserts are among the coveted modern Hank Aaron cards.
Below is a list of the ten most important Hank Aaron cards produced. While value is a key factor, it wasn't the only thing we considered. All have a certain X-factor that give them their own importance.
Top 10 Hank Aaron Cards
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Following hunts for Reggie Jackson and Nolan Ryan autographs, 1991 Upper Deck High Series Baseball challenged collectors to "Find the Aaron." The first certified Hank Aaron autograph card, it's done on the checklist from the Baseball Heroes insert set. The 1991 Upper Deck Hank Aaron autograph is hand-numbered to 2,500 copies. That may seem like a lot by today's standards, but they were extremely tough to pull and supply is still relatively sparse.
Aaron's third Topps card marks the third year in a row that the card maker used the same portrait painting. Recycling images was a common practice back then too. But it's tough to argue against the 1956 Topps Baseball design. What's intriguing about this card is the background. It's made to look like that's Aaron sliding in the background. It's actually Willie Mays.
Topps used to print cards for the South American market, which have been dubbed Topps Venezuelan. Rare to begin with compared to their American counterparts, they're extremely scarce today due to the fact that few still exist. It was common in the region for cards to get glued into albums. As a result, Topps Venezuelan cards were printed on card stock that was flimsy and not very good quality. Not many have survived and those that have are usually in rough shape. The card pictured below, which is in far from top condition, sold on eBay for $1,621 on February 17, 2015.
The 2003 Topps Stadium Club Co-Signers Hank Aaron and Willie Mays dual autograph is the first time the two legends signed the same card. At the time it came out, they were first and third in career home runs. Both autographs are on-card. They both had stronger penmanship than later cards where their age has made it tougher. Factor all these together and you've got one of the greatest Hank Aaron cards ever.
The 1954 Topps Hank Aaron may get the credit as being his rookie card, but this food-issue release is from the same year. And it's much more affordable. The 1954 Johnston Cookies Hank Aaron is smaller than normal, measuring 2" x 3 7/8". The set, which made locally, only has Milwaukee Braves players.
Issued in his second year, the 1955 Topps Double Headers Hank Aaron is a throwback of sorts to T201 Mecca Double Folders released more than 40 years earlier. The perforated card can be folded to create a second card of Ray Herbert. This is a tough card to find today and high-end professionally graded copies move very well on the secondary market.
Upper Deck created a hobby monster with the introduction of the Piece of History 500 Club cards in 1999. At the time, memorabilia cards were still a novelty. Featuring only players with 500 or more home runs, this cross-brand set included many of the hobby's biggest stars on individual player cards. This particular card has bat swatches of all three of the top home run hitters at the time.
While memorabilia cards of all three players -- even Babe Ruth -- are a lot cheaper now due to a larger supply, this one can still sell for four figures thanks to the set's popularity and the legends it features.
As great as it would be to own a Hank Aaron rookie card, it's simply not affordable to a lot of collectors. His second-year 1955 Topps card is still pricey but not nearly as high. But that's no slight against the card itself. While the main portrait is the same as the one used for his rookie, the horizontal design is a big change.
As we mentioned, the 1999 Upper Deck Piece of History 500 Club cards are extremely popular. While the majority of focus went to the basic memorabilia cards -- largely because there's more of them -- players also have signed versions. The 1999 Upper Deck Piece of History 500 Club Hank Aaron Autograph is numbered to 44, his jersey number. Hank Aaron collectors have to compete with those working on the set as well as more general 500 Club autograph collectors.
The 1954 Topps Hank Aaron rookie card isn't just his most important card, but it's one of the greatest post-War cards period. Expect to pay close to five figures for a copy landing a grade of 8 from PSA, BVG or SGC. Any grade a 5 or higher is likely to start at $1,200. High-end raw copies sell in same territory.