Building a complete high quality Master Set of 1956 Topps baseball cards from scratch as cheaply as possible and documenting it from start to finish

The goal of the project is to create the most difficult combination of a 1956 PSA Basic or if funds allow, PSA Master Set, and track, organize and document the build from start to finish, to see how long it takes and the cost to build a set of PSA 7’s or 8’s. When the project started, the heavier hitters like Mantle, Aaron, Mays, etc, were possible, but in the last year there has been another explosion in card values and reaching the goal feels a little more daunting (expensive).

Additionally, a number of cards that meet the criteria were pulled from a rack pack, including the Ed Mathews WB with an anticipated grade of 7, and so it will be included in the set to avoid the cost of replacement. Additional packs might yield cards in a similar condition and if so, no attempts will be made to replace them either. A number of cards in the pack had the wrong back, including a Yogi Berra, and these cars will be sold to offset the costs of acquiring the correct cards and these transactions will also be documented. Given the size of the collection and the strict parameters, and thus, cost, the target completion date is 2025. The current value of a complete set of PSA 8’s (priced individually) is around $100,000.

Centered The Hard Way

The mandate is to shoot for graded PSA 8’s, but the minimum criteria for the card must be PSA 10 centering and a clean mark-free surface, letting all other elements of the card dictate the balance of the grade. At this point, the primary element with an impact on value is the corners, and depending on the player and the cost of the card, 7 and 8 corners are allowed. “The Hard Way” refers to the difficulty in collecting some of the cards, especially the cards #’d 101 – 180 in the White Back variation. For cards #’d 1 to 100: Grey Back, 101 to 180: White Back, and 181 to 340: Regular Grey Back, and with all relevant team cards per colour-backed variation.

Start Date

April 2020

Cards Acquired

35 / 340

Cards Cost

USD $967

(ave. $28 / card)

Cards Graded


Grading Costs


Running Total


Returned Graded Cards

1956 Topps Camilo Pascual Gray Back

PSA 8.5
Population 1 of 1
Only 1 higher
Cert#: 49404188

Raw Cards out for grading

The cards started coming in at a trickle, one or two cards a month, then a rush here and there. The temptation to relax the parameters is extremely high, and in a few instance I did. It takes a lot of self control to let a clearly incredible card pass which displays a slightly larger off-set than I’m looking for, but I’m relying on the fact that there will always be another around the corner sometime, and not to purchase on emotion. For some cards, there is little choice, especially the rare cards in the 101 – 180 range with white backs. The population reports indicates a ratio of about 1 in 10 or 15 of cards in this range are graded white-backs. Since the priority is centered and clean, I also continue to wrestle with the notion of at least completing the set with lesser quality cards but replacing them as they come up in the condition required.

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