A Son's Gift - 1954 Topps Set with Banks and Aaron

Amazing How Much the Aaron Card Has Increased in Just 5 years!
  • August 30, 2016

Ted Williams 1954 Topps

We get phone calls all of the time from people telling us about cards that they've found or asking about collections that have been given from grandparents, parents and siblings. Rare is the call where someone has a collection that they've received from their children, but that was exactly the case when a local New Jersey man called us about a set that his son had given him nearly a decade earlier.

The gentleman called and mentioned that he had been gifted a complete 1954 Topps Baseball Set from his son and that he was interested in getting a free appraisal and might consider selling it. He explained that the set contained several of the cards had been PSA graded, including several of the keys including the rookie cards of Hank Aaron, Al Kaline and Ernie Banks and that he would be interested in a ballpark figure before coming to the office for an in-person evaluation. We asked about the overall condition as well as the PSA grades and he said the cards appeared to be similar to the graded cards which were mostly PSA 6 from the cards that he mentioned. We were pleased when he noted that the Aaron was a PSA 6 and we were surprised when he mentioned that the Banks was a PSA 8 and he did believe there were any qualifiers. An appointment was scheduled for the gentleman to meet in our Somerset, NJ office to review the set and provide him with a detailed appraisal and assessment.

He was timely and we met and discussed the set and the fact that his son had given it to him as a present in the early 2000's. He was now retiring and was trying to find out what sort of value the collection might hold and might consider selling it as he wasn't really a collector.


We spent time going through the entire set, which has been neatly organized in 8-pocket pages and was in numerical order.  We reviewed the condition of the cards, especially those of value, and prepared a spreadsheet with the value of the key cards, the graded cards and the value of the entire set.  The cards that had been graded (most were PSA, but there were a few that were from other grading companies), were represented in the pages by a picture of the graded card.  Many of the keys were graded including one of the Ted Williams #250 (PSA 6), Al Kaline (PSA 6), Willie Mays (GAI 6) and a handful of common cards in PSA 6 and PSA 7.


Ernie Banks PSA 1954 Topps rookie cardThe Banks rookie, which had been noted as a PSA 8 and would have been valued between $10,000-12,000, was actually off center and noted with a qualifier (visit our "How to Grade Your Sports Cards" page to learn more about grading and qualifiers). A qualifier is a notation (centering, miscut, mark, stain, etc.) identifying a flaw or detrimental characteristic to the card although it may otherwise appear in the grade assigned. In this case, the Banks was graded a PSA 8 OC. This means that the card has all of the characteristics of a NM/MT card, but that the centering is not acceptable for the grade. Qualifiers typically reduce the value of the card at least two grade lower than the qualified grade. So, the Ernie Banks card in a PSA 8 OC would be valued at $1000-1300 or nearly 10% of the unqualified PSA 8 card. This differential isn't always as drastic, but in the current marketplace for vintage, high grade Hall of Famers, it is not uncommon.  Obviously, there was a big disappointment from the initial discussion when we estimated that the set, with a PSA 8 Banks would be worth $12,000-15,000, but after explaining the qualifier, reviewing the sales history of the cards in PSA 8 OC and PSA 6, the seller understood the difference.  

Hank Aaron 1954 Topps rookie cardHank Aaron's rookie card is also in the 1954 Set and the example in this collection was a nice PSA 6 card with no qualifiers and is currently worth about $2500-3000. The card has steadily continued to increase in value in all grades. Aaron has seen a renewed interest, especially in his earlier cards, as people realize that he hit 755 career home runs and that in the eyes of those that ignore the steroid –era records, he is still the all-time home run king. In fact, Aaron's 1954 Topps rookie card has seen some incredible appreciation over the past 5 years. In 2012, one could've purchased a 1954 #128 PSA 8 Hank Aaron rookie card for under $5000. Today, that very same PSA 8 card has been selling in excess of $40,000! That's a pretty healthy appreciation for someone that has been underappreciated for years!


After we completed the entire evaluation, we again reviewed the set and the valuation with the gentleman and presented our offer. While not nearly the value that had been anticipated, the gentleman concluded that it was very fair and he accepted the offer.


Just Collect is always buying vintage sports cards as well as select modern issues.  If you have a collection and would like a free appraisal or would like a purchase offer, please contact us today.



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