If you don’t know the 1960 Leaf set, let me be your guide.
First, they are beautiful, regular size cards featuring black and white portraits with a photo quality gloss and superior card stock. Second, it has a weird checklist, with very few big names, and even the big names aren’t that big (no Mantle, Mays, Aaron, Koufax, etc.) I like offbeat checklists (see my multiple posts on the 1936 Goudey Wide Pens Type 1 set). Third, the full set has only 144 cards, though the second series is way tougher than the first. Fourth, there aren’t too many variations and only one variation is pricey.
Let’s go deeper.
Before the real set hit candy stores and five and dimes, Leaf made eight cards in pre-production, similar to the final design, but not exactly the same. These “Big Heads” are expensive, like, in the thousands per card expensive. Luis Aparicio, usually a lower level Hall of Famer in demand and price, is the Babe Ruth/Mickey Mantle in this smattering of players.
The actual cards, though referenced as Leaf, were copyrighted to Sports Novelties, Inc. in Chicago. (Leaf was a Chicago based company, so there may be a connection between the two.) To avoid the Topps gum monopoly, the cards were issued with a marble. The first series is pretty attainable, relatively cheap. Lots can get you nice cards for less than a couple of bucks each.
The second series is the tough one. Commons (I’m hoping) can be snagged in the $5-6 range. According to my beloved 2009 Standard Catalog, an influx of over 4,000 high numbers hit the hobby in the late 1990’s which helps. I’m starting to snoop around for bargains.
The variations are few, but fun.
There’s this one:
Real Brooks Lawrence (not a variation)
Real Jim Grant (variation)
Brooks Lawrence as Jim Grant
Why is Brooks Lawrence so much happier when he’s Jim Grant?
The Hal Smith card has three different backs, for those of you who care about that. The back information on these cards is like a short story, way too much for me.
Blacked out team, which will run you in the hundreds of dollars
Not a variation at all, but credit to Leaf for addressing the 1960 Hal Smith issue.
The second series has two errors (not variations), for a total of four players.
Obviously not Chuck Tanner (it’s Ken Kuhn)
Stover McIlwain (it’s actually Jim McAnany, but who would ever know)
It’s a lovely group of cards, with the higher priced names still reasonable – Aparicio (regular sized head, of course), Brooks Robinson (another Brooks entry), Duke Snider, Sparky Anderson, Orlando Cepeda and Jim Bunning. You can come for the Hall of Famers. I’m in it for the Stover McIlwains.
Put your focus on the first series. I don’t need any competition as I search for low budget high numbers.