Can you imagine what collectors must have thought when they first pulled 1953 Topps baseball cards from wax packs that summer?

I mean, just in the last year, they had graduated from Bowman “paintings” to black-and-white or color photos, depending on the set.

And now Topps wanted kids to accept artwork again?

Yeah, that was the general plan, only the artwork that graced 1953 Topps sets were the masterpieces of painter Gerry Dvorak. And, whether or not Little Leaguers at the time dug the cards, one thing is certain today …

1953 Topps Baseball Card Wax Pack Box - feature

The 1953 Topps set is one of the most popular and revered issues to ever hit the hobby, and it likely contributed mightily to the downfall of Bowman and Topps’ subsequent monopoly.

To celebrate what may or may not be the most beautiful set of all-time, let’s take a run through the most valuable 1953 Topps baseball cards.

These rankings may surprise you in some cases, thanks to short prints that elevate “commons” or lesser stars to the upper echelons of set value. Whatever the case, approximate values are culled from the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide for PSA 7 specimens.

Hold on to your paintbrushes!

1953 Topps Mickey Mantle (#82)

1953 Topps Mickey Mantle

The 1951 Bowman may be Mantle’s true rookie card, and the 1952 Topps Mantle is the big kahuna among modern baseball cards.

But if you had to choose the best Mantle card based on pure beauty and eye appeal, how could you pick against the 1953 Topps classic?

You couldn’t. Not without a fight, at least. Come at me, bro.

Enough collectors and fans agree with me to put the price tag of this monster well over $10,000 in PSA 7.

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1953 Topps Willie Mays (#244)

1953 Topps Willie Mays

All that I said about Mantle above pretty much applies to Mays here, except sligthly less amplified.

The Say Hey Kid doesn’t command quite the attention and prices with his cardboard that The Mick does, but Mays’ early cards remain true hobby royalty some 65-70 years after their release.

This 1953 Topps beauty shows Mays crouched in a fielding pose with, like, a farm in the background.

An unusual but gorgeous look that helps the second Mays Topps card push $6000 in graded NM condition.

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1953 Topps Jackie Robinson (#1)

1953 Topps Jackie Robinson

While both the Mays and Mantle cards were short-printed, this Robinson beauty was actually double-printed — two Jackies on each sheet.

But that’s not surprising considering that Robinson was already an established Major League superstar who was a cog of some great Brooklyn Dodgers teams.

That status is also reflected in that #1 on the back of Robinson’s card, which today is a $1500 buy in PSA 7 condition.

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1953 Topps Satchel Paige (#220)

1953 Topps Satchel Paige

Satchel Paige turned 47 (at least) in the summer of 1953, yet he also made more than 50 appearances on the mound for the old St. Louis Browns.

Impressive as that was, though, Paige had already built his legend in the Negro Leagues, and he would eventually make it to the Hall of Fame on the strength of that combined resume.

Another double-printed masterpiece, this one sells for around $1200 in PSA 7.

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1953 Topps Johnny Podres Rookie Card (#263)

1953 Topps Johnny Podres

Podres was a fresh-faced 20-year-old left-hander for the Brooklyn Dodgers when this card first hit collections across the land.

He fared well enough, pitching to a 9-4 record with a 4.23 ERA. He eventually developed into a steady and important piece of the Dodgers rotation as they made it to World Series after World Series, even after the team moved to Los Angeles.

But Podres’ middling star power alone wouldn’t have landed him on this list — for that, he needed the help of short-printed scarcity.

The whole package, though, makes this a $500 card in PSA 7.

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1953 Topps Yogi Berra (#104)

1953 Topps Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra, on the other hand, was a bona fide superstar by 1953 — well before then, actually.

In fact, Berra had won his first American League MVP award in 1951, and then would add two more, in 1954 and 1955. And all along the way, he handled the Yanks’ pitching staff and helped power the offense as New York built their 1950s dynasty.

A few managerial stints, 1000s of malapropisms, and a Cooperstown plaque later, and it’s no wonder this serious-looking rendition of Yogi clicks along at around $400 in PSA 7.

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1953 Topps Milt Bolling (#280)

1953 Topps Milt  Bolling

So this is a pretty strange one to appear on this list, right?

I mean, yeah, Bolling was a member of the Boston Red Sox during Ted Williams‘ run in Beantown, and that sort of tide lifts all boats.

And, sure, this is Bolling’s rookie card … but does that really matter when the player in question hit .241 with 19 home runs and 94 RBI — for his entire career?

It does when you’re talking about the last card — and a short print — of one of baseball’s most enduring and endearing sets.

In fact, it matters to the tune of about $400 in PSA 7.

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1953 Topps Jim Gilliam Rookie Card (#258)

1953 Topps Jim  Gilliam

Another Brooklyn Dodgers semistar …

Another short-printed rookie card …

Another high number …

It all adds up to another unexpected member of our “most valuable” list for 1953. Gilliam was no slouch, spending 14 seasons in the Dodgers infield and showing some speed and power along the way, but the $375 price tag for this one owes to more than just Junior’s on-field talents and 1953 ROY award.

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1953 Topps Warren Spahn (#147)

1953 Topps Warren  Spahn

Spahn and Sain and pray for rain … and go ahead and thank the cardboard gods if you were lucky enough to pull the Boston Braves’ ace from a wax pack.

Well, OK, technically by the time painted Spahn greeted collectors, they were the Milwaukee Braves, but Spahn was still a lock-down number one who already had four 20-win seasons under his belt.

He was on a beeline to Cooperstown, and this snazzy short print today brings in around $265 in PSA 7 condition.

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1953 Topps Harvey Haddix (#273)

1953 Topps Harvey  Haddix

Harvey Haddix had some amazing moments on the baseball field, including quite a few when he went 20-9 for the 1953 St. Louis Cardinals to finish second in the voting for Rookie of the Year (behind Gilliam).

He also won a World Series with the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates.

But none of his moments is quite so memorable — or painful — as that time he threw 12 perfect innings in 1959 only to see teammate Don Hoak boot a Felix Mantilla grounder. Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, and Joe Adcock then conspired to push Mantilla across the plate, and Haddix lost the game to the Braves, too.

Add that legacy to a short-printed high number, and you have all the makings of a $250 card in slabbed NM condition.

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1953 Topps Phil Rizzuto (#114)

1953 Topps Phil  Rizzuto

Scooter was a Yankee legend before the New York faithful even knew who Mickey Mantle was, and he remained a beloved figure right up until his death in 2007.

Thanks to Derek Jeter, Rizzuto lost his hold on the title of “Greatest Yankees Shortstop Ever,” but he still checks in here at $225+ in PSA 7.

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