What’s the distinguishing characteristic of 1966 Topps baseball cards?

It it their gaudy borders or big-name rookie cards or waving team banners or nothing-but-photo beauty?

Nah, all those attributes belong to other cards of the 1960s (though the ’66s did a pretty darn good job in the clear-blue-sky image department).

All in all, the defining characteristic of 1966 Topps may just be that it doesn’t have one. It’s just a solid, understated, and — in its simplicity — classic set that sometimes gets lost in the hullabaloo of its neighbors.

But 1966 has plenty to offer in its own right, including these ten most valuable cards from the set, as determined by PSA 7 listings culled from the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide.

Let’s dig in!

1966 Topps Mickey Mantle (#50)

1966 Topps Mickey Mantle

What happens when a mid-1960s baseball card set shows up without many (or any) big-name rookies? I mean, value-wise?

Well, it opens the door for Mickey Mantle to nab the top spot on lists like this one.

Of course, The Mick is liable to do that even when the set in question is loaded with big RCs.

So don’t let Mantle’s lofty position here cloud your opinion of the 1966 set — just enjoy the colorful, classic card of the slugger on its own merits.

And if you want to do that from the friendly confines of your own collection, expect to pay about $450 for a PSA 7 copy.

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1966 Topps Willie Mays (#1)

1966 Topps Willie Mays

In 1965, Willie Mays set a career high with 52 home runs, and he won his second National League MVP award (the other came with the New York Giants in 1954).

Mays’ heroics weren’t quite enough to get San Francisco back into the playoffs in 1965, but he still looks plenty happy tossing a baseball from one hand to the other on his crystal clear 1966 Topps card.

It’s a dandy that sells for close to $300 in graded NM condition.

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1966 Topps Hank Aaron (#500)

1966 Topps Hank Aaron

Aaron was never flashy like Mays and Mantle at their peaks, but Hammer’s best years would have been jagged mountain tops for most mere mortals.

And he maintained that level for the better part of two decades.

No wonder, then, that Aaron eventually broke Babe Ruth‘s all-time home run record in 1974 and retired as one of the greatest to ever play the game.

Also no wonder that this mid-career card — boring as it may be — checks in around $160 in PSA 7.

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1966 Topps Gaylord Perry (#598)

1966 Topps Gaylord Perry

OK, so this card makes it to the list largely on the strength of the relative scarcity that comes with being a short print.

Normally, I’d skip over flukish type cards for a piece like this, but Perry also happens to be a Hall of Famer, and he looks sort of young here.

How often to you see that?

Put it all together, and you have yourself a $125+ card in PSA 7.

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1966 Topps Roberto Clemente (#300)

1966 Topps Roberto Clemente

The Clemente legend seems to grow stronger every year, and so does the love for this Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer.

This card, issued during his lone NL MVP campaign in 1966, features a wistful-looking Clemente against a clear blue sky.

And all of this “Bob” greatness can generally be yours for about $125 in slabbed PSA 7 condition.

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1966 Topps Sandy Koufax (#100)

1966 Topps Sandy Koufax

Sandy Koufax turned in one of the great pitching performances of all-time in 1966, posting a 27-9 record with a 1.73 ERA and 317 strikeouts for the World Series-bound Los Angeles Dodgers.

It also happened to be Sandy’s last season in the Majors, as elbow problems forced his early retirement that October.

Since Topps wasn’t much on career-capper cards back then, this 1966 beauty was Koufax’s last mainstream issue, and it’s a $125 item in PSA 7 today.

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1966 Topps Jim Palmer (#126)

1966 Topps Jim Palmer

OK, so there is at least one great rookie card in the 1966 Topps set, and it belongs to Baltimore Orioles mound legend Jim Palmer.

Here we see a young Cakes looking pretty much like the movie star he seemed destined to become later on in his career.

The only thing missing is a view of his perfect coif and of his BVDs … er … Jockeys.

Still, for the first card of a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest pitchers of the 1970s, $95 almost seems like a steal (PSA 7).

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1966 Topps Pete Rose (#30)

1966 Topps Pete Rose

Rose is one of those guys who appears on just about every one of these lists where he has a card.

See, the guy may have been a louse and a criminal off the field, but he was a bona fide legend in the grass, down the baselines, and — especially — at the plate.

This fourth-year card, featuring lots of blue to go with that nifty Cincinnati Reds uniform, sells for around $90 in PSA 7 these days.

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1966 Topps Willie McCovey (#550)

1966 Topps Willie McCovey

Here we have another Hall of Famer who probably wouldn’t make this list were his 1966 card not short printed.

But it was, and Stretch was magnificent for most of a couple decades, anyway … so here we are.

And who wouldn’t want that big smile and bright, sunny sky to cheer you up on a dark winter’s day? Or even in the middle of summer.

McCovey’s mirth will set you back about $90 for a copy in PSA 7 condition.

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1966 Topps NL Batting Leaders — Clemente, Aaron, Mays (#215)

1966 Topps NL Batting Leaders (Clemente,Aaron,Mays)

League leader cards won’t often make the cut of most valuable cards in a set, but things are a little different when the worst player among a leading trio ended his career with exactly 3000 hits.

In 1965, the National League was blessed with a top-three in the race for the batting crown that shook out like this — Roberto Clemente – .329; Hank Aaron – .318; Willie Mays – .317.

(For what it’s worth, next in line were fellow Cooperstown denizen Billy Williams, at .315, and Rose, at .312).

Topps capitalized on this mass of talent with their “NL Batting Leaders” card, a $75 item in slabbed NM condition these days.

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