It’s been said the 1952 Topps Baseball set changed the hobby landscape forever. The first baseball card issue ever produced by the bubble gum maker wowed collectors upon its arrival with its larger format (2-5/8″ wide by 3-3/4″ tall), bright colors and outstanding player selection. It also features a New York Yankees upstart named Mickey Mantle whose card (#311) has arguably surpassed the fabled 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner as the hobby’s most recognizable piece of cardboard.
To pay homage to the set and its impact on generations of baseball fans and card collectors, Collectors Universe President and CEO Joe Orlando has teamed once again with authors Tom and Ellen Zappala to produce a 248-page salute to Topps’ inaugural unveiling. Entitled Baseball & Bubble Gum: The 1952 Topps Collection, the book details the most iconic postwar baseball card set in history. Complimented by colorful MLB player narratives throughout the pages, it paints a picture of what life was like for the athletes during and after WWII and how their love of baseball kept the country moving forward.
Perhaps more importantly to card aficionados, in the book’s fourth and final chapter, Orlando takes an in-depth look at the set – from its composition and variations, to its design, to its breakdown in six distinct series, to its place in America’s cultural history.
“Over the past decade, Tom and Ellen Zappala have afforded me the opportunity to work with them on a number of book projects and each one has been enjoyable for different reasons,” said Orlando. “This most recent project was extra fun to work on, in part, because they allocated more space in the book for me to dig into the vast detail of this iconic issue. When you are talking about the premier postwar baseball card set, having the appropriate amount of room to explore all of its great attributes, including its rich history, is crucial. From its key components to its variations to its place in pop culture, the 1952 Topps is cemented as one of the hobby’s true staples.”
Boasting colorful, glossy pages throughout, the book is beautifully presented and showcases each of the 407 cards that are featured in the set. It’s organized by chapters spotlighting the commons, the uncommons and the eventual Hall of Famers. Every single card front is represented and accompanied by a mini bio of the player along with his career stats. It even includes a beautiful tribute by Glenn Berger to his late father, Sy Berger, the former Topps executive who was the man behind the set’s creation.
“This book was certainly a labor of love for us because this wonderful collection brought back memories of our childhood,” added Tom Zappala. “Unlike the T206 Collection and Cracker Jack Collection, the 1952 Topps set was part of the fabric of our youth. That is what made writing the book so appealing.”
Former MLB All-Star pitcher Carl Erskine of the 1955 World Series Champion Brooklyn Dodgers had this to say about the book: “The popularity of Topps baseball cards kept the careers of player like me alive for decades after our retirement. As a player featured in the ’52 Topps set, I enjoyed reading Baseball & Bubble Gum. The stories about the players brought back memories of a great time in my life and a great time in the game of baseball.”
Zappala added: “We also owe a debt of gratitude to John Branca, the nephew of the pitching great Ralph Branca. John allowed us to use images of his complete 1952 Topps set. As many serious collectors know, his collection is one of the finest in existence, and it was very kind of him to share it in our book for the enjoyment of our readers.”
Published by Peter E. Randall, Baseball & Bubble Gum: The 1952 Topps Collectionretails for $35 and will be available for purchase starting July 1, 2020 at www.Amazon.com. It also comes as a free gift with the purchase or renewal of a PSA Collectors Club Membership (Platinum or Gold levels only) at the PSAcard.com/Store.
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