The Lost Topps Cards

This year, one of the insert sets in the regular Topps issue is the “Lost Cards” series, which creates a few of the cards that Topps didn’t produce, for one reason or another, during the years 1953-1957. Just six names encompass the 10-card set: Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Duke Snider, Bob Feller and Roy Campanella. Not surprisingly, all but two of the omissions resulted from the contract wars between Topps and Bowman up through their 1955 sets. The other two card resulted from Musial’s non-appearance in the ’56 and ’57 sets — in fact, four of the cards in the set are Musial cards, which makes me wonder just what exactly Topps did wrong in its handling of Musial over 50 years ago.

Sadly, in its effort to rectify the Musial error and suck up to collectors of New York’s Golden Age of baseball (of the other six cards, five are Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers), Topps missed out on plenty of other oversights they made during the ’50s. Most notably, at least as far as this blog is concerned, the missing Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts cards from 1953-1955. (There are plenty of other Phillies who would be worthy of having a Lost Card created should Topps ever decide to do a true set including many of the players they’ve missed over the years, but I’ll just focus on the Hall of Famers from the period covered by this particular insert set). To be fair, Topps did produce an Ashburn card in 1954, and when they issued their Archives 1953 set in 1991, they included Curt Simmons and manager Steve O’Neill along with Ashburn (see above) and Roberts in the “The Cards That Never Were” series they tacked onto the end of the original set.

Yet, Topps being Topps, they couldn’t bring themselves to properly execute the cards in the Never Were series. They were hideous and looked only marginally like the cards originally issued in ’53. The fonts were all wrong and instead of using artwork based on photos, they just slapped a black and white photo of the player on the card. Looking at the cards makes you almost wish Topps didn’t bother at all. In fact, it makes you wonder why they had bothered at all.

So, maybe one of these days Topps will decide to properly execute a “missing cards” set, if for no other reason than they love to reuse their old designs and issue new cards of stars that have been retired for decades. I would actually like to see how some proper Lost Cards of Ashburn and Roberts would look (not to mention a proper Lost Card for Schmidt in 1973 — Topps has already issued a couple different monstrosities for that particular card without getting it right), but I’m afraid that Topps’s proclivity for focusing only on superstars would mean that those would most likely be the only Phillies cards in such a set, even though I could give Topps a nice list of Phillies cards that would be nice to see in such a set, should someone actually want my opinion on it.

Not that I ever expect to be asked, mind you.

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2 responses to “The Lost Topps Cards

  1. Hi, I am a fan & collector of the ’53 Topps set. There was original artwork for an Ashburn (and at least 7 others) that was never used. It was made into a card image by Bob Lemke who used to work for Sports Collectors Digest. I do not have Bob’s url but the card was featured once on PunkRockPaint. If you want i would send it as an attachment – I have front & back. It would have been so much better than the crummy Ashburn used in the Archives. -Phil Erwin

    • Thank you for the info — I had no idea that this “card” was out there. Once I read your response, I did some online searches and found the front and back mockup of the card that Lemke created. I downloaded them and will be inserting them into the virtual pages I have created of the 1953 Topps Phillies cards.

      Thank you, again, for sharing the information.

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