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1971 Baseball Cards

By Patrick Mondout

The year nineteen-seventy-one was a great one for baseball card collectors. Topps released one of its classic sets ('71 Topps) and a highly-collectible test issue, the Topps Greatest Moments, and pair of insert issues that kids found groovy in the Topps Coins and Topps Tattoos (see below).

1971 Cards at a Glance

Bazooka (a Topps brand) produced a 36 card set as a series of 12 panels, one of which could be found on each 25 count boxes of their 1 packs of gum. These 2" x 2 5/8" cards have no numbers identifying them and are very similar to the 1960 Bazooka cards. A much more scarce test issue of 48 cards was also issued which did feature card numbers. A checklist is here.

Holloway's produced a rather unattractive set of 69 1-13/16" x 2-5/8" sepia photos on tan panels found on the back of 5 boxes Milk Duds. They are scarce today and complete boxes go for $10 to $50 and up.
Kellogg's 2nd 3D set had a number of errors (or variations, if you prefer). You can read about this set here (which also includes a checklist).
Canadian Topps licensesee O-Pee-Chee produced their largest set to date in 1971. The cards featured backs that were quite different than '71 Topps (see left). A checklist and more detailed description is here.
The black bordered '71 Topps set is covered here and a checklist is here.
Topps Coins were introduced as an insert in '71 Topps wax packs. The set of 153 coins were released in three batches. The first 51 featured brass backs, the second 51 blue backs (like the one on the left), and the final 51 had chrome backs.
Topps Greatest Moments - a 2 1/2 x 4 3/4 test issue featuring 55 cards - is a very scarce set that often tops $1,000 on the rare occasions it is offered. A checklist is here.
Topps continued to put Scratch Off game cards in packs of 1971 baseball cards. The card on the left shows the only difference between these and the '70s Scratch Offs - the red borders around the black scratch off boxes (see our picture in 1970 for a comparison).
Topps Supers with their large, borderless photos were back largely unchanged from 1970. A checklist for the 63 cards is here.

Though Topps had produced Tattoos before, this is still a very unusual issue. It folds out to measure 3.5" by 14.25" and is considered a scarce test issue. What you see on the left is a wax pack wrapper and one panel featuring Pete Rose (his image is supposed to be reverse due to how the tattoo was to be applied). There were six panels connected by perforated paper. As rare as these are, its even more rare to find them intact.

There were 16 different sheets and each featured six players, a facsimile autograph, a team pennant, and cartoon players.

The tattoos came off easily with water, so if you see some middle-aged guy with Clyde Wright tattooed on his arm, be afraid. Be very afraid!



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