Skip to main content

C.A.: 1951 Topps blue back Bruce Edwards

(Happy National Left-Handers Day from the resident lefty owl! I've often dedicated this day to a blog about baseball lefties and baseball lefty topics. But every time I do, I get the feeling I bore all the righties who are used to everything going their way. So just a simple wish this time: Give a lefty a hug! Or a distant wave. Whatever . It's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 295th in a series):

As I get closer to completing all the Dodgers team sets from the main issues of the 1960s, with only a few pricey or elusive left on the list, I'm thinking more and more about the 1950s and the Dodgers I need to round up there.

I'm feeling a bit intimidated.

Unlike gathering Dodgers from sets from the 1970s forward -- even the '60s haven't been all that brutal -- the '50s are filled with known difficult acquisitions wearing Dodger blue. You know that high-number series in 1952 Topps where the cards are almost impossible to get? There 16 Dodgers in that series, more than any other team (the Giants have the second-most with 12. Meanwhile, the Tigers have two).

I can't even envision a world in which I get all of those cards. Jackie and Pee Wee and Campy? Yeah, no way.

There are several sets like that, particularly in the first half of the 1950s. The second half is somewhat easier. In fact, I have just about all of the Topps Dodgers from between 1956-59.

Another obstacle -- and this is going to seem like blasphemy to '50s vintage lovers -- is I'm not crazy about many of the sets from the early '50s. That includes 1952 Topps, but also 1954 and 1955 Topps and to a lesser degree, 1953 Topps. They just don't do it for me. (Meanwhile, the Bowman sets from that time period, I like quite a bit).

Here's where I veer away from my fellow collectors again: one of my favorite '50s Topps sets is the much-ignored and maligned 1951 Topps set.

This set is so ostracized that it isn't even consider the beginning of Topps' reign by many a collector. They point to the '52 set as if nothing was ever issued by Topps the previous year. "That was just a game card," is the general point of view among the sniffy sniffers.

Well, I like the '51 set. I always have. I don't know if I can put the reasons into words. It's probably because it's a tidy, little set, mini-sized, and the design is delightfully mid-20th century. I also like how there are "red backs" and "blue backs."

I was taught from an early age that the blue backs were more difficult to acquire than the red backs. I saw it in the first Beckett Price Guide ever issued in 1979.

There's the page, some crazy prices, and that warning from 41 years ago: "Blue Backs are more difficult to obtain than the Red Backs, kid."

Accordingly, a complete Blue Backs set in 1979 was valued at $250.00 in mint condition, while the Red Backs complete set was just $90. (I tried to look up what the sets are going for now but just ran into what the sets go for graded and I lost all interest).

So, that was that. You didn't need to hit me over the head. Stay away from the Blue Backs.

For years, the only '51 Topps Dodger cards I owned were red backs. Duke Snider came into my possession first during a high school trade. Preacher Roe and Gene Hermanski followed.

But the other day, I started looking around at blue back prices for Dodgers. They weren't too bad. And that's another bonus of the '51 set. You don't have to put down a mortgage for these cards, because, I guess, people just don't like it.

This is my first '51 blue back. It's Bruce Edwards, the Dodgers' catching back up to Roy Campanella. The blue really stands out when you're used to looking at red backs for years. It does seem exclusive.

No, I didn't pay $4.50 for this card. It isn't 1979 anymore. But it was quite affordable. The Edwards card contains a few creases but they're not too bad. The '51 set seems to avoid some of the absolutely murdered looks of other '50s cards and I think some of that is due to its diminutive size (and also probably it wasn't as popular with the kids).

I've been nosing around the remaining '51 Dodger blue backs on my list, Ralph Branca and Billy Cox. And I still need one more red back, Gil Hodges.

I expect to get them much sooner than some of the other '50s Dodgers that I need. They simply appeal to me a little more.

One more '50s Dodger card down. So many more expensive ones to go.


In contrast. My Braves have 4 blue backs and I have all 4. The Braves had 3 red backs plus 1 of them has a variation. I need the variation Holmes (Hartfield) and Sid Gordon red backs.
I may have 1 or both in my pending comc order. I'll find out next month I guess.
Old Cards said…
Interesting story on the 51 set. I agree on the 52 thru 55 sets. 56 is as far back as my collection goes.
gcrl said…
Good to see someone has that Edwards card! I still need two blue backs (including Edwards) to complete my 1951 topps dodger team set. Maybe I'll start looking for them. I've no plans to try for any more 1952 high numbers but will likely someday pony up for a johnny podres rookie and the couple other 1953 cards I need.
Mark Hoyle said…
The Red &Blue backs were pretty painless for Redsox collector. The tough cards from 51 were the Topps team cards ,the Connie Mack AllStars and the Current allstars. Only 9 Redsox in the 52 high numbers . Took me a while. Did one card a month.
Fuji said…
1951 Topps are fantastic. I remember reading about one of the backs being more rare than the other as a kid too. Now I know it's the blue. I always wondered why these cards weren't appreciated by collectors more.

P.S. Although I do appreciate early 50's Topps sets, the 1951 Bowman set is one of my all-time favorite sets... right up there with the 1956 Topps set.
Nick Vossbrink said…
No blue back Giants but I'm complicated by Monte Irvin and Rookie Card BS. I like how different the 1951s are buthave a hard time cosidering a release this small a "set." Definitely in agreement about Bowman being better than Topps in those early years.

Popular posts from this blog

BIG numbers

This is one of those milestone things that used to mean a lot more.Back in my first year or two of blogging, I'd note the milestones that passed and really celebrate them as if they were a big deal. And they really did seem like a big deal at the time:300th post. Wooo!400th post. Weee!500th post. Well that was kind of lame.900th post. You could tell I was already getting sick of coming up with milestone post ideas.But I still like celebrating milestones, no matter what form they take. Not only does it satisfy my compulsion to categorize with numbers, but a nice, big, round number is proof that you've been doing something for awhile -- and if it's worth keeping track of, then probably that thing you've been doing for awhile is enjoyable.So even though I don't flip out quite as much over blog milestones, I've reached yet another one and here I am mentioning it.
I've surpassed 3 million views, you guys.Just once I'd like to witness the odometer turning over…

Card stuff I discovered on the internet

This post was originally going to be called "stuff I discovered on the internet," but I figured that would leave too much to the imagination.Before the internet came along, I discovered cards and card sets mostly through advertisements in the Sporting News or Baseball Digest, or through hobby catalogs that came to my house, like TCMA or Fritsch Cards. Later, I subscribed to Baseball Cards Magazine and found new-to-me sets in articles in that magazine.But I missed so much through those methods. Outside of what was selling in wax or cello packs at the drug or grocery store, that was all I knew.It wasn't until years and years later, when I ended up online like everyone else, that I discovered how much that I had missed.Once I became aware of card blogs, the door was open wider than ever. There were so many sets -- so many sets and cards that often had been issued right under my nose -- that I never knew existed.For example:
I had no idea there were so many box sets from Flee…

Overwhelmed then underwhelmed

Well, welcome back card aisle, you're looking rather ... uh ... disorderly.This was the sight at my neighborhood Target yesterday. As disorganized and scattered as it appears, I can count three different baseball card products (four, if you add the MLB stickers) in just this small crop of the card aisle.This is as many different kinds of baseball card products that I've seen on area store shelves since March. With Covid quarantining and the inexplicable ransacking of card shelves across the country, I've purchased almost no cards in person for the last six months. (On Twitter I mentioned these were the first 2020 baseball cards I had seen on shelves since March, which isn't quite true. I forgot I picked up a couple of scattered packs of Series two a couple of months ago. That's how forgettable Topps flagship is this year).Within that frame are a couple of hanger boxes of 2020 Topps Fire, a half-filled gravity feeder of 2020 Stadium Club and, up at the top, a gravit…