Friday, March 25, 2011

Card back countdown: #10 - 1954 Topps

We have reached the top 10 of the Card Back Countdown, and I'll start the final 10 with a set that I really can't explain why it's here.

But I'll figure it out.

I have a natural affinity and respect for 1950s cards. A lot of what we see now in cards was started in the '50s, including card backs.

You could tell that Topps was experimenting with the backs of its cards during its first few major releases. The back of the 1952 set looks nothing like the back of the 1953 set, which looks nothing like the back of the 1954 set.

But the '54 set seemed to give Topps an indication of what it wanted. A template for future sets.

For the first time, Topps featured what could truly be called a cartoon on the back of its set. The card back for the '53 set did feature a cartoonish drawing, but that was merely a picture to go along with a quiz question. The '54 set actually featured a strip cartoon with a story to it -- a comic -- which you rarely see on baseball cards.

I would love it if more card sets had a comic strip on the back of their cards. That would be an instant selling point.

Outside of the ground-breaking cartoon, Topps returned to the horizontal card back format, which it would use from 1954 to 1966.

But the part of the card that really makes it a '50s card, and of the '50s for me, is the green background for the statistics. That screams the '50s to me, as much as Saturday Evening Post, Earth Angel and cars with fins.

So that is why this card back is at No. 10 in the countdown. It's a classic Topps design, with a groundbreaking artistic element, and a color scheme that makes it unique for its time. Plus you've got all the information that you could want at the time (complete career stats were still three years away).

See? I knew I would figure out why I ranked this so highly.

Best of the set:

I have three cards from this set. We'll skip this.

(previous card back countdown selections):

50. 1978 SSPC Yankee Yearbook
49. 1993 Score
48. 1999 Skybox Thunder
47. 2000 Upper Deck
46. 1999 Skybox Premium
45. 1953 Johnston Cookies Braves
44. 1995 Topps
43. 1997 Fleer
42. 1992 Pinnacle
41. 1989 Bowman
40. 1977 Kellogg's
39. 2004 Topps
38. 2004 Topps Total
37. 1992 Topps
36. 1992 Donruss
35. 2008 Upper Deck Documentary
34. 1963 Fleer
33. 1955 Bowman
32. 2006 Topps
31. 1961 Topps
30. 1955 Topps
29. 1967 Topps
28. 1970 Topps
27. 1969 Topps
26. 1966 Topps
25. 1963 Topps
24. 1911 T205
23. 1962 Topps
22. 1981 Topps

21. 1981 Donruss
20. 1958 Topps
19. 1977 Topps
18. 1974 Topps
17. 1957 Topps
16. 1988 Score
15. 1993 Upper Deck
14. 2004 Upper Deck Timeless Teams
13. 1971 Topps
12. 1965 Topps
11. 1991 Studio


  1. The thing I have against the 54 back is that they are not all the same direction. When you put them in pages some of the backs are upside down from the rest.

  2. I don't have any 1954 Topps, but I like the fielding stats on there. You rarely see them.