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List of the Top Baseball Cards of All Time

I have been wanting to do a list of the Top Baseball Cards of All Time for a while and have finally made the time.  It would be impossible to pick between a T206 Wagner and a 1952 Topps Mantle, so I have decided to compile lists of the most iconic cards (in my opinion) of all time by decade or so. The lists are complied primarily of attainable cards, as well as, popularity (for the most part.) I realize we could debate these rankings all day long but it's a start. Here we go.

Top 20 Baseball Cards from 1869-1889
N172 Old Judge Cap Anson, especially Uniform variation
N162 Goodwin Cap Anson
1869 Peck & Snyder Cincinnati Red Stocking
N162 Goodwin Mike King Kelly
N172 Old Judge King Kelly Portrait
N172 Old Judge Ed Delahanty Rookie
N172 Old Judge Hoss Radbourn Portrait
N300 Mayo Cap Anson
N28 Allen & Ginter Cap Anson
N172 Old Judge Charles Comiskey Browns Champions
N28 Allen & Ginter King Kelly
N29 Allen & Ginter Buck Ewing
N300 Mayo Buck Ewing
N172 Old Judge Connie Mack
N300 Mayo Kid Nichols
N172 Old Judge Pud Galvin
N172 Old Judge Harry Wright
N162 Goodwin Tim Keefe
N172 Old Judges Hall of Famers
N28 and N162 Hall of Famers

1900-1909 - Top 20 Baseball Cards from 1900-1909

(A very tough list to make.)

T206 Honus Wagner
T206 Eddie Plank + Joe Doyle variation
E90 American Caramel Joe Jackson Rookie
T204 Ramly Walter Johnson Rookie
T206 Ty Cobb Green Portrait
T206 Sherry Magie Portrait Error
T206 Ray Demmitt St. Louis + Bill O'Hara St. Louis
1907 Dietsche, Wolverine + Novelty Cutlery Postcards Ty Cobb Rookie
T206 Ty Cobb, Red Portrait, Bat on and Bat off
T204 Ramly Jesse Burkett + Eddie Plank
T206 Christy Mathewson Portrait
T206 Cy Young Portrait
T206 Walter Johnson Portrait
T206 Tris Speaker
E94 Close Candy Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner
E92 Issues Christy Mathewson, Ty Cobb + Honus Wagner
E95 Philadelphia Caramel Honus Wagner + Ty Cobb
E90 American Caramel Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner and Cy Young
1906 Fan Craze Honus Wagner
T206 Variations and Tough Advertising Backs

Top 25 Baseball Cards from 1910-1929
1916 M101 Sporting News Babe Ruth
1914 + 1915 Cracker Jack Joe Jackson #103
1914 + 1915 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb #30
1914 Cracker Jack Christy Mathewson #88
1911-1914 D304 Brunners Bread Ty Cobb
1911 T3 Turkey Red Ty Cobb
1911 T205 Richard Hoblitzell No Stats on Back
1910 E90-2 American Caramel Honus Wagner
1912 T227 Honest Long Cut Ty Cobb
1911 T205 Gold Border Ty Cobb
1925 Exhibits Lou Gehrig
1914 T222 Fatima Grover Alexander
1911 M116 Sporting Life Honus Wagner
1911 E106 Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner
1914 + 1915 Cracker Jack Honus Wagner
1911 T202 Hassan Triple Folder Ty Cobb Steals Third
1921 E121 + E120 American Caramel Babe Ruth
1914 + 1915 Cracker Jack Grover Alexander, Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker and Walter Johnson
1911 T205 Addie Joss
1921 W514 Joe Jackson
1912 T207 Buck Weaver
1911 T3 Turkey Red Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson and Cy Young
1911 T202 Hassan Triple Folder Tinker/Chance/Evers
1913 T200 Fatima Cleveland Americans
1911 T201 Mecca Double Folders Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and Ty Cobb

Top 25 Baseball Card from 1930-1939

1933 Goudey Babe Ruth - All 4 Cards #53, 144, 149, 181
1933 Goudey Nap Lajoie #106
1935 Zeenut PCL Joe Dimaggio
1939 Play Ball Ted Williams Rookie #92
1932 US Caramel Babe Ruth #32
1932 US Caramel Lou Gehrig #26
1934 Goudey Lou Gehrig - 2 Cards
1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig - 2 Cards
1936 World Wide Gum Joe Dimaggio #51
1936 World Wide Gum Lou Gehrig
1938 Goudey Joe Dimaggio - 2 Cards
1933 Delong Lou Gehrig #7
1933 Sport Kings Babe Ruth #2
1933 Sport Kings Ty Cobb #1
1934 Diamond Stars Lefty Grove #1
1933 Goudey Benny Bengough #1
1934 Goudey Hank Greenberg
1936 R312 Joe Dimaggio Rookie
1938 Goudey Bob Feller Rookie - 2 Cards
1933 Goudey Dizzy Dean #223
1939 Play Ball Joe Dimaggio #26
1934 Goudey Jimmie Foxx #1
1933 Goudey Rogers Hornsby #119
1933 Goudey Jimmie Foxx - 2 Cards
1935 Goudey 4 in 1 Babe Ruth - 4 Cards

Top 25 Baseball Cards from 1940-1949

1948 Leaf Satchell Paige #8
1948 Bowman Stan Musial Rookie #36
1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson Rookie #79
1941 Play Ball Joe Dimaggio #71
1940 Play Ball Joe Dimaggio #1
1941 Play Ball Ted Williams #14
1949 Bowman Satchell Paige #224
1949 Bowman Jackie Robinson #50
1949 Bowman Roy Campanella Rookie #84
1949 Bowman Duke Snider Rookie #226
1940 Play Ball Joe Jackson #225
1940 Play Ball Ted Williams #27
1941 Play Ball Pee Wee Reese Rookie #54
1948 Leaf Joe Dimaggio #1
1948 Leaf Bob Feller #93
1948 Leaf Babe Ruth #3
1948 Bowman Yogi Berra Rookie #5
1948 Leaf Larry Doby Rookie #138
1949 Bowman Richie Ashburn #214
1948 Leaf Warren Spahn Rookie #32
1948 Bowman Warren Spahn Rookie #18
1948 Leaf Ted Williams #76
1941 Double Play Joe Dimaggio/Keller #63
1941 Play Ball Jimmie Foxx #13
1949 Bowman Robin Roberts Rookie #46

Top 25 Baseball Cards from 1950-1959
1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #312
1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle Rookie #253
1951 Bowman Willie Mays Rookie #305
1954 Topps Hank Aaron Rookie #128
1955 Topps Roberto Clemente Rookie #164
1955 Topps Sandy Koufax Rookie #123
1952 Topps Ed Mathews Rookie #407
1950 Toleteros Joshua Gibson
1954 Bowman Ted Williams #66
1953 Bowman Color Pee Wee Reese #33
1953 Topps Mickey Mantle #82
1954 Topps Ernie Banks Rookie #94
1952 Topps Andy Pafko #1
1951 Bowman Whitey Ford Rookie #1
1954 Wilson Franks Ted Williams
1954 Dan Dee Mickey Mantle
1959 Topps Bob Gibson Rookie #514
1957 Topps Brooks Robinson Rookie #328
1957 Topps Frank Robinson Rookie #35
1958 Topps Roger Maris Rookie #47
1959 Fleer Ted Signs #68
1952 Topps Jackie Robinson #312
1952 Bowman Mickey Mantle #101
1954 Topps Al Kaline Rookie #201
1955 Topps Harmon Killebrew Rookie #124

Top 20 Baseball Cards from 1960-1969
1963 Topps Pete Rose Rookie #537
1968 Topps Nolan Ryan Rookie #177
1967 Topps Tom Seaver Rookie #581
1968 Topps Johnny Bench Rookie #247
1969 Topps Mickey Mantle White Letter #500
1962 Topps Roger Maris #1
1960 Topps Carl Yastrzemski Rookie #148
1965 Topps Steve Carlton Rookie #477
1969 Topps Reggie Jackson Rookie #260
1967 Topps Rod Carew Rookie #569
1962 Topps Lou Brock Rookie #387
1966 Topps Jim Palmer Rookie #126
1960 Topps Willie McCovey Rookie #316
1963 Fleer Sandy Koufax #42
1964 Topps Stand-Up Mickey Mantle #45
1969 Topps Super Mickey Mantle #24
1964 Topps Pete Rose All Star Rookie #125
1963 Topps Roberto Clemente #540
1965 Topps Joe Morgan Rookie #16
1966 Topps Willie Mays #1

Top 15 Baseball Cards from 1970-1979
1975 Topps George Brett Rookie #228
1973 Topps Mike Schmidt Rookie #615
1979 Topps Ozzie Smith Rookie #116
1970 Topps Thurman Munson Rookie #189
1978 Topps Eddie Murray Rookie #36
1975 Topps Robin Yount Rookie #223
1972 Topps Carlton Fisk Rookie #79
1977 Topps Andre Dawson Rookie #473
1971 Topps Nolan Ryan #513
1974 Topps Dave Winfield Rookie #456
1973 Topps Roberto Clemente #50
1971 Topps Greatest Moments Reggie Jackson #47
1973 Topps Ruth/Aaron/Mays #1
1976 Topps Dennis Eckersley Rookie #98
1971 Topps Greatest Moments Thurman Munson #1

Top 15 Baseball Cards from 1980-1989
1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr Rookie #1
1980 Topps Rickey Henderson Rookie #482
1984 Donruss Don Mattingly Rookie #248
1982 Topps Traded Cal Ripken Jr Rookie #98T
1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds Rookie #11T
1983 Topps Tony Gwynn Rookie #482
1984 Fleer Update Roger Clemens Rookie #27
1982 Topps Cal Ripken Jr Rookie #21
1985 Topps Mark McGwire Rookie #401
1984 Fleer Update Kirby Puckett Rookie #93
1983 Topps Ryne Sandberg Rookie #83
1989 Fleer Billy Ripken FF Error #616
1987 Fleer Barry Bonds Rookie #604
1983 Topps Wade Boggs Rookie #498
1987 Donruss Greg Maddux Rookie #36

The Monster - Collecting the T206 Baseball Card Set

The T206 set gets is name from hobby pioneer Jefferson Burdick, catalogued in his book The American Card Catalog. The T206 set, informally is known as the “White Border Set” or “The Monster”. I feel “The Monster” best describes the set due to the amount of cards and their variations. Many people outside of the card collecting community know of the T206 set as it contains one of baseball's most valuable cards; the T206 Honus Wagner. The finest know example brought $2.8 million at auction in 2007 and other Wanger's still command $200,000+ in much lesser condition. So you may ask why all the hype for just one card? It is estimated that there are approximately 50 T206 Honus Wagner cards in exsistence, so the most simple answer is basic supply and demand. While there is a lot of speculation around why the card is so rare, the most common thought is that Wagner did not want his image being used to promote the sale of tobacco, specifically to children.  

The set cT206 Cy Youngonsists of 524 different cards, including over 100 minor leaguers and 48 southern leaguers. Some of the stars of the day had multiple cards in different poses and uniforms. Due to rudimentary printing techniques and cutting methods the T206 cards can vary in sizes although the hobby has a standard measurement of 1-7/16” x 2-5/8”.

There are various ways of collecting the T206 "Monster"; some collectors seek only the Hall of Famer players, while others attempt to collect all the players on their favorite team. Many collectors simply want to own a piece of history so they purchase a single T206 for a type collection.

Then there are those collectors that desire to own the entire set and there are mutilple options to compiling the entire set as well. Most commonly, collectors compile all the different poses/variations minus the"Big Four"; Wagner, Magie (Magee Error card), Doyle, and Plank, for a total of 520 cards. While others compile the set with only rare backs. But the most challenging way to complie the T206 set is to build a Master Set.  According to the PSA set registry a T206 master set requires 2897 cards with all known player and back advertisement combinations. (See below for know backs and difficulty) Whether you are a causual collector or getting ready to dive into building the "Monster" yourself, the following information will give you a jump start.   

Click Here to Purchase T206 Cards


All known T206 Backs in Alphabetical Order


 T206 Backs in order of Difficulty. (In my opinion)

1. American Beauty 350 - Frame – *

2. American Beauty 350 - No Frame
3. American Beauty 460
4. Blank Back
5. Broad Leaf 350
6. Broad Leaf 460
Carolina Brights
8. Cycle 350
9. Cycle 460
10. Drum 350 - Once were much tougher. There was a relatively large find recently
11. El Principe De Gales
12. Hindu - Brown
13. Hindu - Red
14. Lenox – Black
15. Lenox - Brown
16. Old Mill – Black - Base Ball Subjects
17. Old Mill – Black - Southern Leagues
18. Old Mill – Brown - Southern Leagues
19. Piedmont 150
20. Piedmont 350
21. Piedmont 350-460 No.25
22. Piedmont 350-460 No.42
23. Polar Bear - Only brand that is not cigarettes; loose tobacco, also known as scrap
24. Sovereign 150
25. Sovereign 350 – Dark Green
26. Sovereign 350 - Apple Green
27. Sovereign 460
28. Sweet Caporal 150 No.25
29. Sweet Caporal 150 No.30
30. Sweet Caporal 150 No.649 OP
31. Sweet Caporal 350 No.25
32. Sweet Caporal 350 No.30
33. Sweet Caporal 350-460 No.25
34. Sweet Caporal 350-460 No.30
35. Sweet Caporal 350-460 No.42
36. Sweet Caporal 350-460 No.42 OP
37. Tolstoi
38. Ty Cobb - Heavily debated, may or may not be apart of the T206 set
39. Uzit

* All American Beauty cards are more narrow than other brands, is is speculated this is due to the narrower size of the cigarette packs.
1.Ty Cobb - almost impossible and debated if the card is even apart of the T206 set
2. Old Mill brown text on reverse.. As tough as the Lenox brown
3. Lenox brown text on reverse.. As tough as the Old Mill brown
4. Broad Leaf 460 subjects
5. Uzit
6. Drum  
7. Hindu red text
8. Lenox black
9. Blank Back
10. Broad Leaf 350 subjects
Carolina Bright
12. American Beauty 460 subjects
13. Piedmont 350-460 subjects factory 42
14. American Beauty 350 subjects with no frame
15. Hindu brown text
16. Sovereign 460 subjects
17. Cycle 460 subjects
18. Tolstoi
19. EPDG
20. Sweet Caporal 350-460 subjects factory 25
21. American Beauty 350 subjects with frame
22. Sovereign 350 apple green -350-460 series cards only (66 cards)
23. Sweet Caporal 350-460 factory 42
24. Cycle 350
25. Old Mill southern leaguers
26. Sovereign 150 subjects
27. Sweet Caporal 150 subjects factory 649 overprint
28. Sweet Caporal 350-460 subjects factory 42
29. Old Mill
30. Polar Bear
31. Sovereign 350 subjects dark green text
32. Sweet Caporal 150 subjects factory 25
33. Sweet Caporal 350-460 subjects factory 30
34. Sweet Caporal 150 subjects factory 30
35. Piedmont 150 subjects factory 25
36. Piedmont 350-460 subjects factory 25
37. Sweet Caporal 350 subjects factory 25
38. Sweet Caporal 350 subjects factory 30
39. Piedmont 350 subjects factory 25


Super Prints: (The most commonly found T206 all of which can possibly have as many as 20+ different advertising backs.)

Ty Cobb Red Portrait
Christy Mathewson Dark Cap
Frank Chance Portrait - Yellow Background
Johnny Evers Bat on Shoulder
Hal Chase Blue Portrait
Hal Chase Throwing


T206 Rarities

Honus Wagner - It is speculated Wagner did not want his image being used to promote the sale of tobacco, specifically to children.

Eddie Plank – It is believed the printing plate was broken early in the printing process.

Sherry Magee error - Spelled Magie

Bill O’Hara St. Louis Team

Joe Doyle N.Y. Nat’l – Very few known examples

Ray Demmitt St. Louis Team

Kid Elberfeld Portrait Washington Team

George Brown Washington Team

Carl Lundgren Chicago Team

Frank Smith with both Chicago, Boston Team designations

Red Kleinow Boston Team

Bill Dahlen Brooklyn Team


T206 Hall Of Famers

Home Run Baker, Jack Beckley, Chief Bender, Roger Bresnahan, Mordecai Brown, Frank Chance, Jack Chesbro, Ty Cobb, Fred Clarke, Eddie Collins, Jimmy Collins, Sam Crawford, George Davis, Hugh Duffy, Johnny Evers, Elmer Flick, Clark Griffith, Miller Huggins, Hughie Jennings, Walter Johnson, Addie Joss, Willie Keeler, Joe Kelly, Nap Lajoie, Rube Marquard, Christy Mathewson, Iron Man McGinnity, John McGraw, Eddie Plank, Tris Speaker, Joe Tinker, Rube Waddell, Honus Wagner, Bobby Wallace, Ed Walsh, Zack Wheat, Vic Willis and Cy Young.

Most Important Baseball Card Set?

Its highly debated which set ranks as the most important baseball card set of all time. I think everyone can agree there are three fairly equal candidates, the T206 set, 1933 Goudey and 1952 Topps. I personally would rank the T206 set as number one followed by the 1952 Topps set and finally the 1933 Goudey set. The T206 set has so many amazing aspects, mysteries and a daunting checklist that has scared away most set builders forever. The set is filled with Hall of Famers, multiple poses of players and an array of different advertising backs, subject numbers and factory numbers. Considering the set is over 100 years old now, it’s absolutely amazing how many are still readily available. Thinking about the distribution of the T206 cards in 1909 to 1911 is mind boggling. Most people back then smoked and Piedmont and Sweet Caporal were among the most popular cigarettes of choice. Each and every pack these smokers choked down included one T206 baseball card. It is speculated there may have been as many as 250 million T206 cards originally printed. Thinking about all the variables in place for us to have an estimated 1.5 million left in today’s circulation is amazing. Probably half the cards were immediately thrown out by non-interested smokers, then you have those collectors who lose interest, paper drives of WWI and WWII, people died, moms threw out the cards, fire, water, time, etc. This set really has it all for a collector. It’s even a set within a set, with the 16 different ad backs. You can collect certain players, teams, portraits, ad backs and much more. More information on these sets to come...

My Love for Cards - How it all began

With the first official post on the Buckler Blog, I thought I would introduce myself. I am Chris Buckler, I own and operate Buckler Cards with my awesome wife Kristin. I have been collecting cards since I was a kid. I remember going to the Upper Deck shows in the late 1980s with my father begging him to buy me a vintage card or packs. I still have my favorite card and will never trade it or sell. In 1988, I was 8 years old, behind the grandstands at the Louisville fair grounds, home of the Red Birds. An exhibition game between the Orioles and Cardinals had just ended and I was watching all the players leave the locker room and head to the team buses. Out of nowhere, I look down and there is a 1982 Topps Cal Ripken rookie card lying on the ground. At the time the card was selling around $80 and I had never had one in my collection nor could afford one. I reached down and grabbed the card as fast as possible and began to celebrate. Then out of sheer luck Cal Ripken walks out of the locker room. I ran up to him along with many other kids and had him autograph my rookie card. I left that game the happiest I can ever remember leaving any baseball game, I can not tell you who won the game but I will always remember that day.

I continued to collect throughout my childhood and into my teens; I gained a lot of knowledge of various eras and issues. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I started to narrow my collecting focus. I now specifically buy what I like and I buy the card not the holder.

A Brief History of Baseball Cards

During the 1850’s America was changing; both photography and baseball were becoming m ore popular and teams began posing for photographs. As baseball grew in popularity and became a professional sport in the 1860’s, advertising companies took notice and began producing trade cards and individual player portraits on small cards. These cards were produced by a variety of companies and manufacturers.

Peck and Snyder, a Cincinnati based baseball equipment manufacturer, began producing some of the earliest known baseball cards. By the mid 1880’s tobacco companies took notice of the new sport’s popularity and they began advertising the first tobacco baseball cards.

Goodwin and Company, a New York tobacco manufacturer, began nationally distributing Old Judge and Gypsy Queen cards. The Old Judge set was the first ever large scale baseball card set produced. The complete number of cards and variations is still undetermined and new examples are still emerging.


In 1909 the American Tobacco Company introduced their take on advertising cards, producing one of the largest sets of cards ever made, the infamous T206 white borders. This set was amazing and full of pose variations, different advertising backs, errors, short prints and not only major league players but also minor and southern league players. Over the next few years many different companies like Imperial Tobacco, Cabanas, Mecca, Hassan, and many more began their own advertising cards. Soon other companies other than tobacco companies took notice of the new marketing tactic and began producing their own sets and distributing them differently. The American Caramel “Candy” Company produced their first set, the E90-1. The Sporting News magazine sponsored card issues and the Zee Nut cards were first manufactured by Collins-McCarthy in California.Honus Wagner In 1914, Rueckheim Bros. and Eckstein, a caramel company, began producing the first candy insert cards in their product, Cracker Jack. The Cracker Jack cards were very popular and were produced for 2 years, 1914 and 1915. The 1914 issue is very difficult to find in high grade and commands a major premium for set builders and collectors.

Card manufacturing remained steady until the start of World War I. Once the war began the card industry did not come back around until after the war and the Great Depression. In the 1920’s the American Caramel Company began distributing strip-cards, which were strips of cards with many different player portraits on each strip. Also in the early 1920’s, the Exhibit Supply Company of Chicago began to release the famous Exhibit card which resembled a post card in size. In the mid 1920’s several non-sport Canadian and International companies began to produce baseball cards which are not as heavily desired today but still carry collectible value.

Things started to change in the early 1930’s. With the emergence of Gum Inc, US Caramel, National Chicle, Delong and others, production escalated and the hobby grew. In 1933 Gum Inc. produced the Goudey set; with 4 cards of the great Babe Ruth included, the cards were an immediate hit and every kid in the country wanted one. With the depression over, Baseball was in its prime and then World War II started. Baseball card production once again was stopped and would not reemerge until the 1940’s. Although Play Ball cards produced by Gum Inc. were manufactured and distributed in 3 sets from 1939-1941. Baseball cards would not truly “bounce back” until the late 1940’s. 1948 saw the arrival of 3 new companies; Topps with their magic photo set, Bowman Gum and Leaf Candy.

Bowman was the major player in cards for 4 years until 1952 when 1948 Leaf Jackie RobinsonTopps began producing larger cards. Bowman and Topps competed heavily over player contracts and collectors for 4 years. Topps ultimately won in 1956 when they bought their only competitor Bowman Gum. Topps went virtually unchallenged for 20+ years until the arrival of Donruss and Fleer in the early 1980’s. Although in 1959 Fleer did emerge with 3 sets. Topps had a majority of players under contract so Fleer could not compete and produced their last set in 1963 and would not reemerge until 1981. 

Many other companies like Kelloggs, Post Cereal, Jell-O, Leaf, Kahn’s Hot Dogs, Red Heart Dog Food and Dan Dee Potato Chips produced regional sets throughout the 1950’s to the 1970’s but were no threat or competition to Topps. In 1965 Topps sold distribution and manufacturing rights to O-Pee-Chee, a Canadian candy company. In 1975 Fleer sued the card giant in an attempt to break up Topps monopoly in the baseball card market. Fleer won the lawsuit and in 1981 Fleer and Donruss began producing their own sets of cards.

In the mid 1980’s baseball cards re-entered their prime and it seems that everyone was buying them. As a result the Score Company and Upper Deck emerged into the market with their sets of cards. With all these different companies producing cards and the hobby at its peak, card manufacturers began mass producing cards. This brought about a flooding of the market which has inevitably caused all these “so called investment cards” to be almost worthless. Not all of the cards produced during this era are of no value, they are simply easy to find. As card enthusiasts we should develop an appreciation for these mass produced cards because they are what essentially introduced millions of people to the hobby and helped turn the hobby into what it is today.