In my three decades in the sports card hobby, I have mainly focused on buying single cards of players I enjoy watching or think have investment potential.  However, recently I have been considering the merits of constructing full sets.  The idea of a long-term, focused goal is appealing to me.  In addition, in the modern sports card era, where there seems to be a new product release every three days, the concept of developing expertise in something static from a specific year sounds refreshing.  Finally, individuals, who have spent years or even decades tracking down cards from a set they have grown to love, report that there are few things in the hobby that bring greater joy and fulfillment than completing a project of this nature.

Below are four pre-1990 sets I would consider completing if I had unlimited time and money.  In selecting these sets, I considered eye-appeal of the design, star power of the checklist, and collector demand.

1952 Topps Baseball

Number of Cards: 407

Key Rookies: #175 Billy Martin, #392 Hoyt Wilhelm, and #407 Eddie Matthews

Key Hall of Famers: #11 Phil Rizzuto, #33 Warren Spahn, #37 Duke Snider, #88 Bob Feller, #191 Yogi Berra, #261 Willie Mays, #311 Mickey Mantle, #312 Jackie Robinson, #314 Roy Campanella, and #333 Pee Wee Reese 

1952 Topps is one of the most recognizable sets in the hobby.  With a dynamite checklist and a design that includes artistic depictions of the players and facsimile autographs, it is a gorgeous set.  Although well before the era of inserts, there is even a “chase” element with this edition, as the high numbers (cards 311 to 407) are so rare that many collectors consider a set with cards 1 to 310 “virtually complete”.  When this set was released in 1952 a pack of 5 cards cost 5 cents.  How times change.  Now, even low-grade Mantle cards from this set can sell for more than $100,000.

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