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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Topps Card Numbers - 1955-1959

We'll do the numbers in groups of five years from now on. Topps was very consistent with their numbering in the early years. They found a winning formula and they mostly stuck with it for a couple of decades.

1955 Topps

This here is the standard card number Topps used in the early days. A baseball with the Topps logo on the top of the ball and the card number in between the seams. 1955 has a black number inside red seams. The green TOPPS logo is in an italic font instead of the old timey logo they used in '53 and '54. This is a pretty awesome number, it's large and very easy to read.

Topps also was very consistent about putting the number on the top left corner. Normally it is exactly in the corner but Topps put it underneath the player name in this set.

1956 Topps

Not much to say, baseball, old time Topps logo, number between the seams. The black number between the red seams is very readable.

Card numbers are almost always easier to read on the lighter card stock, but you can still see the number fine on the gray stock.

The card number is slightly smaller than the 1955 numbers but is all the way up in that left corner.

1956 is the first set that had specialty cards including the two league president cards. The back design is vertical instead of horizontal, but the number is exactly the same and in the same left corner.

Team cards also make their debut and they are noted as such just in case you couldn't tell.

1957 Topps

1957 has red numbers inside a blue ball. The entire set is on gray card stock, so the red pops out a little better than black numbers would. The ball is as large as the 1955 set's numbers to make it that much easier to read.

Top left corner again (you'll get sick of me saying this after a while) and the number caps the end of the bar with all the biographical information for the player.

Team cards are marked again, a practice that would unfortunately not be brought back in 1958.

1958 Topps

This probably isn't the best number Topps came up with - the number is kind of small and gets lost inside the busy logo - but it sure is the most fun number they ever made. The smilin' Charlie Brown baseball head numbering system made 1958 Topps one of my favorites ever since I was a little kid.

I thought about saving some typing and just shortening the number location to TLC, but most people would think that was either a female R&B pop group or a formerly educational channel that has devolved into fluff.

'58 Topps also changed the numbering for several of their specialty subsets. The combo cards are essentially the same except the background is solid and the cap's bill is half tone which is opposite the base cards.

All Star cards make their debut and get a star for their numbers. you can't get better contrast than white numbers on a black background.

The team cards don't get similar treatment. Topps used a black number on a red background which is a little tough to read. Dark number on dark background is bad. Since the team cards doubles as checklists, there wasn't a lot of room for a big number but Topps could have done better. Luckily there's only 16 of them to deal with.

1959 Topps

For the first time, Topps completely abandons the baseball motif and goes with a bold white number inside a green box right up in that corner. This is a great number for blind bats like me.

The number is still easily seen on the gray stock. It might actually have more contrast since the green looks darker.

Topps used the tiny number on red again for the team cards. It's actually green ink on red, not black. Of course green and red ink pretty much makes black.

The high numbered cards used actual black ink. You can't get any more readable this side of '53 Topps.

The high series All-Star cards got an elaborate police badge for their card numbers.

Since they are also on the top left corner of the vertically oriented card, they end up being on the bottom left corner when you shuffle through them. Since it's a subset with an extremely different design as the base cards (and is in the scarce high series as well) it's not a big deal.

I'm not sure which one of these I'd consider to be the best. 1958 is my favorite. The '59's are stout. The 1955 number is an archetype. The '59 All-Star number is a work of art. I know one thing though, the '58 and '59 team card numbers are the pits.

Up next: 1960-1964. Bold, boring, and blinding.


PunkRockPaint said...

I have always loved the '58 numbers. Awesom-tacular!

dinged corners said...

Ok, this is mesmerizing.

The police badge is excellent. The 1958 numbers with the ball cap baseball head are both disturbing and awesom-tacular, as PRP said.

Those 1957s with the blue ink may be our favorite in this lot.

deal said...

yeah the team card numbers are weak in 58 and 59 - and they come in the middle of the sit. All the All-Stars are bunched together in 59 so that makes them stand out. I would like to see the Star make a comeback for all-star cards.