600 cards (1971 OPC baseball) – and Ernie Banks

Checklist #6 - 1971 OPC baseball1971 O-Pee-Chee baseball is evil.

I know that many collectors out there will tell me of the perils of the 1972 Topps high series or 1952 Topps with its Mickey Mantle cards that cost more than a new family sedan. I understand all of this. It’s just that 1971 OPC, in all its black-bordered, off-centered, fuzzy-edged glory, is a particularly tormenting thing to finish.

When looking on eBay, one thing that always appears in vintage auctions is that “OPC was only produced in about 5% of the volume of Topps!!! These cards are rare!!!” For the most part, nobody cares. Rare does not equal desirable in and of itself and as an OPC collector, the cards can generally be found if one knows where to look – particularly if you are in Canada to begin with.

OPC is also nice in that for the most part, there are no miserable high series cards to deal with as I can only assume OPC shifted out of baseball and into hockey mode in October/November. Canadian kids either never saw the high series or OPC imported Topps to repackage and distribute.  Whatever the reason, 1972 OPC is only 525 cards.  1970 had just 546. 1969? Just 216 cards.  From 1972-76, they had all the cards, but 1973 was released as one big set.  There is no high series and thus no scarcity.

1971 is different.  It was released in series just as the US set was.  Every series is replicated and – just as eBay always claimed – the high series were in real short supply.  As a result, they can be pricey.  For reasons unknown to me, the 1971 OPC Ron Swoboda runs anywhere between $65 and $90 if you see it at all.  I think it’s Expo collectors driving this.

Checklist #6 - 1971 OPC back

Yellow? Yellow. Yep, that’s OPC.

At any rate, after many years of working on it, I have finally reached the milestone of 600 distinct cards with the arrival of this – the sixth-series checklist.  It’s not all that exciting in that it looks much like all the other checklists in the set, but it’s unmarked and in good shape.  High number 1971s are different from the earlier series in the set because OPC stopped altering the backs and adding the French text.  They look like the Topps cards other than the colour.  That shift isn’t as apparent on a checklist.

And for putting up with my complaining, I’ll also post card #598 which also arrived relatively recently – Ernie Banks.  He has so many great images out there and was really photogenic, so I have no idea what happened here.  Still, it’s a Banks and I’m glad to have found it.

Ernie Banks - 1971 OPC

Ernie appears somewhat blue due to the holder the card was in when I scanned it.  Same with the reverse:

Ernie Banks - 1971 OPC baseball back




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8 Responses to 600 cards (1971 OPC baseball) – and Ernie Banks

  1. shanediaz82 says:

    Awesome stuff, congratulations on 600. I absolutely love the backs on these cards.

  2. Mark hpyle says:

    Great stuff. Love the early series o pee chees from 71

  3. Don MacBeth says:

    I have 2 complete sets of 1971 OPC Baseball. Greatly underrated price wise. The first set I bought had about 200 cards missing and was advertised as EX +++ which it was. Cost me $3000. Trying to complete it proved very expensive. With all the lots I had to buy I started and completed a second set which is a very strong EX + as well, (Believe it or not, I have a good start on a third set because of all the upgrading).I have did a lot of research on this set and apparently only 1000 of the 7th series were printed. The fact that I have 2 complete sets blows some people away. It is way undervalued at $5000. Try completing a set and you will see. As a bit of trivia, I used to work with a guy who worked in the OPC factory in London. He told me that an older lady there saved a complete set of every card OPC printed and kept them in a small room off the cutting floors in boxes. If a person could find those items today….These are beautiful cards and my very fav from my childhood. Thanks for posting this.

    • 1967ers says:

      I hear this number 1000 repeatedly when it comes to OPC and can never tell whether it’s a real thing or a generalization. For example, I’ve heard it said that the 1974 Baseball set might only have 1000 copies.

      That said, the 1971 set has (depending how you look at it) a bunch of double-prints or a bunch of short-prints. I am curious just how many of each card are really out there.

      I will try to complete this thing, but I can tell already that the last 100 cards are going to be a real trick.

  4. randy martin says:

    I have a complete 1971 opc baseball set as well. I have most of the 5th and 6th series graded by SGC and PSA. Most of the grades are 6 or higher.

  5. Has anyone ever come across any 1971 OPC wrong backs?

  6. Don MacBeth says:

    I have heard about them but have only seen a few. They do not appear to be listed anywhere so I am not sure of their value. Sorry.

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