Hank Aaron baseball cards have been a staple in the hobby almost since the day the young, fleet-footed slugger took his first cuts for the Milwaukee Braves back in 1954.

And, while Aaron was the subject of hundreds of cards during a storied career that ultimately landed him in Cooperstown, that number has more than doubled in recent years, thanks to the proliferation of retro issues like Topps Archives and Heritage, along with many concomitant parallels and inserts.

But, among all the many cards of the Hammer you could collect, a few stand out as truly special … historic even.

Those are the beauties we’re interested in here — the most important of all Aaron cards.

And, while these rankings take card value into consideration, it’s not the driving force in whether or not a particular card appears on our list. No, we’re more interested in what the card means to the hobby, and what it represents in both Aaron’s career and the annals of baseball.

No doubt you’ll quibble with some of these choices, but that’s part of what makes this fun, right?

Right.

So now, sit back and behold the ten most important Hank Aaron baseball cards of all time.

(Note: The following sections contain affiliate links to Amazon and eBay listings for the cards being discussed. Also, prices are culled from the PSA Actual Prices Realized tool based on the most populous grade for each card discussed.)

10) 1966 Topps Hank Aaron (#500)

1966 Topps Hank Aaron

Why is this mid-career Aaron, that’s not even all that visually appealing compared to some of the issues around it, one of Hammer’s most important cards?

Well, it all has to do with that “A” on his cap.

Yep, 1966 was the first year the Braves played in Atlanta, having spent all of Aaron’s career to that point in Milwaukee (and having been in Boston through 1952).

The Bravos posted a winning record that first year in Atlanta Stadium, but their 85-77 mark was good for just a fifth-place finish in the National League. Aaron did his part and then some, though, leading the N.L. with 44 home runs and the majors with 127 RBI.

And, even though that Atlanta cap didn’t exist for Aaron to wear before the ’66 season, Topps was able to marry the two. Is it an airbrush job? Not sure, but if it is, it’s one of the Old Gum Company’s more realistic attempts.

Condition: PSA 6

Value: $290-305

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9) 1962 Topps Hank Aaron All-Star (#394)

1962 Topps Hank Aaron All-Star

On first consideration, it may seem pretty strange to plop a mid-career All-Star card here in the midst of the hobby royalty represented by some of the more expensive cards on our list. But there’s a reason this 1962 Topps woodgrain Aaron joins the party.

A couple, actually.

First, Aaron’s very best seasons in the majors, by measure of WAR, came in 1961, when when he put up 9.4 total WAR, and in 1963, when he managed “just” 9.1 but scorched to a personal-best 9.6 at the plate. That first season was one of only two when Aaron played a big hunk of his games in centerfield, and he excelled, adding 2+ defensive WAR. The other season? Yeah, 1962.

So, dropping in a 1962 card sort of captures the heart of Aaron’s prime and also ostensibly shows him from 1961, his peak WAR season.

That’s all still part of the first reason this card is here.

The second reason this card is here is that Aaron is the all-time leader with a whopping 25 All-Star Game selections, a total boosted by the advent of two yearly games from 1959 through 1962.

How could we NOT have an AS entry on this list??

Condition: PSA 7

Value: $175-225

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8) 1957 Topps Hank Aaron (#20)

1957 Topps Hank Aaron

If you don’t buy 1961 or 1963 as Aaron’s peak campaigns, then 1957 may float your boat.

After all, that’s the summer young Henry really broke out the hammer, leading the majors with 44 home runs and 132 RBI while batting .322 to lead the Braves all the way to a World Series title.

For his efforts, Aaron was named the National League MVP.

And, not only did the 23-year-old superstar light up the diamond that summer and fall (three dingers in the World Series), he also lit up collections with a great looking card that has become a stone-cold classic. Doesn’t hurt that the 1957 set is such a stunner overall, with a minimalistic design that really highlights the superb photography.

Add in the extra bit of lore of the flipped negative rendering Aaron as a left-handed hitter, and you have a big hunk of hobby history.

Condition: PSA 4

Value: $280-320

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7) 1976 Topps Hank Aaron (#550)

1976 Topps Hank Aaron

This is not the most visually appealing card on our list (though it does look good), and it’s far from being the most valuable, but the 1976 Topps Hank Aaron is monumental in its own right.

For one thing, it’s Aaron’s very last regular-issue Topps card as an active player. And, while it’s not a career-capper since he actually played in 1976 and therefore accumulated statistics that don’t show up on this one, it’s as close as we can get.

And for another thing, this card features a clear shot of Aaron in his real Milwaukee Brewers uniform — it fixes the abomination of the airbrushed side-profile mess that 1975 Topps unleashed on collectors.

Condition: PSA 7

Value: $100-105

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6) 1955 Bowman Hank Aaron (#179)

1955 Bowman Hank Aaron

The significance of this one is easy to figure out — it’s Aaron’s only Bowman card.

And, of course, 1955 was the last year Bowman made cards at all before Topps bought them out, and the wood-grained TV motif is iconic, if polarizing.

No matter which side of the love-it-or-hate-it fence you land on with the design, though, if you want a Bowman Aaron, this is the one.

Makes you wonder if a 1954 Bowman Aaron could have helped them stave off elimination.

Condition: PSA 5

Value: $500-560

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5) 1954 Johnston Cookies Braves Hank Aaron (#5)

1954 Johnston Cookies Braves Hank Aaron

If you want a true Hank Aaron rookie card, one that fits the standard traditional definition, then you’ve really only got one choice.

But if we loosen our criteria just a bit, to include cards issued during Hammer’s rookie season and showing him in a Braves uniform, then this 1954 Johnston Cookies Braves dandy slides in right alongside Hank’s 1954 Topps RC.

This was the second consecutive set issued by cookie maker Johnston (surprise, right?), with card numbers reflecting the players’ uniform numbers — Aaron wore #5 in 1954 before switching to his now-iconic #44 in 1955.

Overall, Johnston is a tough set, with PSA having graded fewer than 2400 cards in all as of this writing, and Aaron accounting for more than 10% of that total.

Interestingly, an injury to Bobby Thomson gave rise to both Aaron’s first opportunity to seize a starting role and to a scarcity in this set, as the Thomson card was pulled from distribution when it became clear he’d be out for a long while (he didn’t play until July).

In both cases, Aaron made the most of his chance, and his Johnston “rookie card” stands as a hobby classic all these years later.

Condition: PSA 5

Value: $3500-4000

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4) 1975 Topps Hank Aaron Highlights (#1)

1975 Topps Hank Aaron Highlights

We’ve reached the portion of our program where things get really tight … where the competition is fierce … where blood is shed.

OK, maybe not blood, as we’re pitting Hank Aaron baseball cards against Hank Aaron baseball cards here. But gum dust will be shed, for sure.

And here at Number 4, we have the 1975 Topps card celebrating Aaron’s record-smashing 715th home run, which he’d hit early in the 1974 season.

This was the “unbreakable” record, after all, the mark that finally and permamently etched Aaron’s name across the baseball firmament as one of the top handful of players to ever kick up baseline chalk. You don’t take down Babe Ruth if you’re not an otherwordly talent with legendary work ethic.

Still, this one is sort of anticlimactic in the grand scheme of things since it was issued about a full year after Aaron’s legendary big fly, and since Hank himself had been (gulp) traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for the 1975 season.

Even so, this is a historic hunk of cardboard that also shows Aaron as a Brave for the last time and is miles better than his airbrushed monstrosity of a base card in the 1975 Topps set.

Condition: PSA 7

Value: $75-105

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3) 1973 Topps All-Time Home Run Leaders (#1)

1973 Topps All-Time Home Run Leaders

Entering the 1972 season, Willie Mays had hit 646 home runs in his storied career, including 18 in his age-40 season in 1971.

Hank Aaron had sort of quietly smacked 639, topped off by an eye-popping personal best of 47 at age 37 in 1971.

That brought both men into the conversation as potential threats to Babe Ruth’s career record of 714 long balls, a space Mays had shared with Mickey Mantle for years before The Mick’s injuries spiraled his career to an early end.

All of a sudden, though, Aaron was right there with Say Hey and then, in 1971, Hammerin’ Hank leapfrogged Mays. Indeed, by out-homering his more celebrated counterpart by a tally of 34-to-8, and checking in three years younger, Aaron suddenly looked like the possible probably heir apparent to Ruth.

The leadoff card for the the 1973 Topps set, dedicated to the all-time home run leaders board, brought all that into stark focus. There at the top, larger than life (or at least than the then-runners-up), was The Babe.

But it was Aaron, with his 673 dingers, who occupied the second spot, a full 19 home runs ahead of Mays.

The torch had been passed — unwittingly or not — and the stage was set for a historic run.

Yeah, this is an important card, one marking the exact point in time (within a season, at least) when Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth became inextricably linked.

Condition: PSA 8

Value: $380-430

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2) 1974 Topps Hank Aaron (#1)

1974 Topps Hank Aaron

Another 40 home runs in 1973 left Aaron tantalizingly close to Ruth — with 713 home runs, Hammer needed just one to tie the Bambino and two to pass him as the 1974 season dawned.

Aaron faced all sorts of turmoil during that offseason, including racial slurs, death threats, and warnings from Major League Baseball to Aaron and the Braves regarding playing time manipulation that might enable him to set the record at home in Atlanta rather than in the season-opening series in Cincinnati.

For its part, Topps was unfazed by any perceived uncertainty and embraced the impending crowning of a new king by dedicating card #1 in their new set to Aaron. Indeed, they rightly proclaimed him the “NEW ALL-TIME HOME RUN KING” even though the date of said coronation was TBD.

As it turned out, this was also Aaron’s last base Topps card featuring him as a member of the Braves, so that’s an extra bit of historical importance.

Not that this card needs the help.

Condition: PSA 7

Value: $120-140

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1) 1954 Topps Hank Aaron (#128)

1954 Topps Hank Aaron

No matter how much extra weight we allot to cards that commemorate Aaron’s monumental career achievements, or ones that mark major milestones along his path to immortality, they all face a significant handicap.

Namely, the mere existence of Aaron’s 1954 Topps rookie card.

Though Aaron’s RC has never carried quite the mystique — or prices! — of the fabled 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays

(non-)rookies, it has nevertheless stood as a hobby classic almost since its release.

Aaron finished fourth in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 1954, after all, behind Wally Moon, Ernie Banks, and Gene Conley, and his 13 home runs in just 122 games surely garnered him some fan and collector interest.

It was a rocketship to superstardom from there, with Aaron smacking 27 and 26 homers in 1955 and 1956, respectively, and winning a batting title (.328) in ’56. Then came the MVP award and World Series title in 1957 and another couple decades of superstardom, culminating in the home run crown … and the RBI crown … and the total bases crown … and the All-Star games played crown.

Along the way, and especially in the hobby boom years following Aaron’s election to the Hall of Fame, his rookie card jumped Banks’ as the key to that 1954 Topps set and stands today among the most recognizable and coveted cards in the entire hobby.

It’s a fitting companion to an inimitable career, and undoubtedly the most important of all Hank Aaron baseball cards.

Condition: PSA 4

Value: $4600-5600

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Honorable Mention Hank Aaron Baseball Cards

So there you have them — the ten most important Hank Aaron baseball cards of all time.

But you know what?

There are too many great Aaron cards out there to stop just yet, so here are a couple more that hold a special place in hobby history (or at least in my hobby history) …

1959 Bazooka Hank Aaron

1959 Bazooka Hank Aaron

This one is not quite “important” in the same sort of sense that the other cards on this list are, but it’s a personal favorite. In fact, the 1959 Bazooka Hank Aaron card bears much of the responsibility for your having to read these words right now.

See …

Back in 1983 or so, I happened on some second-hand, second-class, non-Beckett baseball card price guide in a beat-up book rack at a local antique store. The book didn’t have many pictures in it, but one card it did feature — for some reason — was this one. And I completely fell in love … with the oddball size, with the design elements, with Hank’s swing.

Even though I didn’t really know who Hank Aaron was at that point, and even though the photo of the card was small, grainy, and grayscale. Regardless, any hope I had of turning away from my fledgling hobby evaporated the moment I spied this beauty, and I’ve coveted it ever since.

As it turns out, this is also one of the more scarce Aaron cards, at least among those with a quasi-wide distribution.

As of this writing, in April 2022, PSA has graded fewer than 70 of the Aaron card, with about 2/3 of those showing up in the white-letter variation (as opposed to the one showing Aaron’s name in yellow letters).

Not surprisingly, this card doesn’t come up for sale too often, making valuation tricky. The most recent sales, a couple of miscut PSA 5s, sold for between $1000 and $1500 during the pandemic.

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1952 Team Issue Indianapolis Clowns Hank Aaron

1952 Team Issue Indianapolis Clowns Hank Aaron

As Aaron’s very first baseball card, this team-issued Indianapolis Clowns card is definitely important, but good luck finding one for sale.

Still, there are a few images of the card here and there online, and we did an article about this Negro Leagues issue several years ago.

Since it’s sooooo tough, we’ll leave it here in our honorable mention section and leave the actual rankings to the cards we know more about.

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1965 topps Hank Aaron #170 HOF Milwaukee BRAVES

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End Date: Sunday 07/03/2022 15:59:01 EDT
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1972 Topps Hank Aaron #299 Braves HOF

$1.00
End Date: Tuesday 07/05/2022 20:25:26 EDT
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1962 TOPPS BASEBALL CARD #320 HANK AARON NICE EX!!!!!!!!!

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End Date: Wednesday 07/06/2022 12:43:15 EDT
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