A Look Back at SCP’s Record-Setting 1961 Topps Set Break

SCP Auctions set well over two dozen new world records in its 2021 Fall Premier, which ended Oct. 30, and many of these remarkable results came from our 1961 Topps baseball complete set break. The primo set was made up almost entirely of PSA Mint 9s and PSA Gem Mint 10s, drawing baseball collectors near and far to the sale.

The 1961 set is a very large set, with 587 cards and numerous subsets. These include league leaders (cards 41-50), managers (cards 133-139 and 219-226), highlights from the 1960 World Series (cards 306-313), baseball highlights (cards 401-410), AL & NL Most Valuable Players from 1950 – 1960 (cards 471-486), and All-Star players (cards 566-589). The set often faced the issue of miscut and off-center cards. It is easy to find a higher-grade card that is off-centered, but extremely difficult to find one properly printed and cut. The chance you have of finding high-grade cards gets even slimmer with the high-number series.

The set starts off with the #1 card honoring 1960 NL MVP Dick Groat. This set included one of only two PSA 10 Groats in the population. The #2 card features Roger Maris in a PSA 9. Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record that season with 61 in 1961. Some of the most coveted cards in the break were all record-breakers, including a #141 Billy Williams rookie graded PSA Gem Mint 10 that took home $92,086, a #170 Frank Robinson All Star graded PSA Gem Mint 10 that went for $89,934, a #290 Stan Musial graded PSA Gem Mint 10 that brought $79,709, and a Juan Marichal rookie that garnered $75,205.

An interesting fact about this set is that it came out the year the Washington Senators and Los Angeles Angels came into the league as expansion teams. When Topps was shooting pictures of the players for the set, they didn’t know which players would be taken in the upcoming expansion draft. Because of this, many of the players appear in capless, head-and-shoulder photos with no visible team logos. Many of these photos ended up appearing on cards in the 1961 Topps set, including stars like Willie Mays and Harmon Killebrew. The reasons as to why the stars were portrayed like this, despite the fact they’d never wind up on an expansion team, are unknown today.

Complete results from SCP Auctions’ $5.6 million Fall Premier can be found here.

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