The Beatles Trading Cards
Background and Description
Beatles trading cards were first issued by Topps in packs of bubble gum in 1964, just as the Beatles took the US music scene by storm.
The first series of 60 cards featured one or more of the Beatles on each, in black and white, along with a blue facsimile autograph. The back of the cards were numbered 1-60 in blue or green ink.
The second series, also issued in 1964, were also in black and white. There were 55 cards in this series, again with blue facsimile signatures. The back of the cards were numbered from 61-115 in orange or green ink.
The third series was also issued in 1964. There were 50 black and white cards in this set, again with blue facsimile signatures. The back of the cards were numbered from 116-165 in green ink.
1964 also saw the first issue of a colour card series of 64 cards with colour photographs. The back of the cards were numbered 1-64, and include questions and answers and vital statistics of each Beatle.
The Diary Card Series was also issued in 1964. This series featured 60 cards with colour photographs. The back of the cards were numbered 1-60 and feature diary entries by each Beatle.
The Hard Day’s Night series was issued in 1964 with the release of the film of that title. It featured stills of the Beatles from the film.
Topps also issued a set of 55 Beatles ‘Plaks’ in 1964, featuring bumper sticker-esque slogans, which are now extremely rare. They were not as well received upon their release as the first six Topps series, and were essentially a test issue that didn’t make it to universal distribution.
The Beatles trading cards were also issued by the Canadian company O-Pee-Chee and British company A&BC. These are equally as rare as the Topps cards, yet less collected.
A 1968 set was issued by Anglo Confectionery and Primrose Confectionery in the UK for the Yellow Submarine film.
The 1970s saw yet more trading cards, produced by several different companies, including the Monty Gum company in Holland. Beatles mania gave rise to French Beatles trading cards, Tajikstan cards, Swedish cards and more.
Several retrospective sets of cards were brought out in the 1990s and 2000s. These are less collectible than the cards issued while the Beatles were at large.
Collecting The Beatles trading cards
The market for non-sport trading cards is ever increasing. Collectors generally decide on a specific set to collect, and amass their collection until they have all the cards in the highest grade possible. The early Topps 1964 Topps cards are the most sought-after and valuable.
The black and white series one cards are very difficult to find in high grade. Examples are even more rare from the Canadian and British companies that also produced them. Likewise with series two.
Series three are for some reason much more widely available and easy to find.
Beatles Plaks are incredibly scarce, being a test series and never universally released. Some numbers are very difficult to find.
The lower portions of cards will read ‘#22 in a series of 60 photos’ or similar.
Wrappers for the bubble gum with illustrations of the Beatles are also collectible.
Beatles trading cards are often sold with several in one lot, and this can alter the price dramatically depending on how many there are.
Some people make reproductions of these cards. A collector must be very careful when determining if a Beatles trading card is genuine.
The Beatles trading cards can be found on auction websites such as eBay, in clearance sales, vintage fairs, and in other second hand trading situations. The highest grade cards are more likely to be sold through auction houses.
- Series one in good condition: $150-400
- Series two in good condition: $40-300
- Series three in good condition: $10-200
The very top end of the PSA grading can see single cards fetching up to $1000.
Cards in lesser condition generally sell for the lower end of these prices, or less. Collector generally desire something graded PSA 8 or above. Whole sets in low grades can be found at very cheap prices.
Full sets with a high PSA grading can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, particularly unopened rack packs.
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