Topps entered baseball card market with first set in 1951
So it’s hard to believe that the company’s first foray into the industry was considered somewhat of a failure.
Seventy years ago, in 1951, Topps released its first set of baseball cards. The company, which originated as a Brooklyn-based chewing gum business, had previously produced a number of other trading card sets, including popular culture card sets and Magic Photo Cards that featured baseball players, among other sports stars. But Topps had never released a full baseball set, and Bowman had dominated the baseball card trading market of those years up to that point.
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The Hall of Fame’s collection contains more than 200,000 baseball cards, many of which are on display in the Museum’s Shoebox Treasures exhibit – including several cards from the 1951 Topps set that started it all.
Compared with the more popular sets that came after it, the 1951 set holds little monetary value nowadays. But the true value behind the set is in the revolution it sparked at Topps in the years to come, laying the groundwork to help shape the company into the industry giant it is today.
Janey Murray was the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum