The 1957 Topps baseball card set represented almost a complete turnaround from the slightly busy design of the 1956 Topps set. The simple design of the 1957 Topps issue continues to have proponents and critics, but based on the price growth for the issue in the last decade, the final decision seems favorable. There were a number of changes made for the 1957 issue that continue to this day. It remains a very influential set 50 years after its initial release.
Number of Cards
At 407 cards, this set became Topps' largest since its inaugural 1952 set release. With Bowman absorbed during the past few years, Topps no longer faced contract competition for player rights and this set would mark the start of growth for Topps sets over the next decades.
Size of Cards
The 1957 set became the first Topps set to boast what we now consider to be standard measurements for sports cards. From the former 3 3/4 by 2 5/8" the set shrunk slightly in size to 3 1/2 x 2 1/2". It seems this new smaller design was readily accepted by the buying public.
Simple and straightforward is the name of the game. Seemingly at odds with 1957 societal design elements (e.g. 1957 Chevy fins and Jetsonian architecture), card design hadn't seen such plainness since the 1953 Bowman Color set. Rather than hand colored photographs or paintings, the 1957 Topps issue relied on full color photographs set against real stadium backdrops. At the bottom of the card is small text for name, team and position. The backs featured full career statistics for the first time. This trend became a staple of Topps design. Also, the re-introduction of multi-player cards provided added interest.
The cards were issued in 5-cent packs with gum and also were issued in a cello pack. The set was again issued in separate series, but this time it is not the highest numbers that command a premium, but some of the middle numbers (265-352).
Mickey Mantle dominates again as the most expensive card in the set. This is a normal occurrence for Mantle and 50s era Topps set. Other key cards include a Brooks Robinson and Don Drysdale rookie cards, Hank Aaron (with uncorrected reversed photo), Sandy Koufax, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, a rare Gene Baker error and the multi-player cards of Dodger Sluggers (Campanella, Furillo, Hodges and Snider) and the Yankee Power Hitters (Mantle and Berra). Equally as collected and rare are the four unnumbered checklists, which when found unmarked can fetch very high dollars!