My Uncut Sheet Of 1981 Topps

I’ve got an entire uncut sheet of 1981 Topps baseball in my collection. Pretty cool, right? That’s definitely what I thought when I got it. It didn’t take long to find out that the reality wasn’t nearly as cool as the concept.

Let me give you a little background on this…

It all started with the promotional set that Topps did with Coca-Cola; specifically, with the 1981 Coke set. Sometime during 1981, I picked up a Mets team set.
1981 Coke Rusty Staub

The Coke packs all came with a “header card” that looks like this:
1981 Coca-Cola Mets Header Card front

More interestingly, the back had an offer for uncut sheets of 1981 Topps:
1981 Coca-Cola Mets Header Card back
An uncut sheet of cards for only $4 postpaid? How could any self-respecting 16-year-old card nerd resist an offer like that?

The sheet came rolled up in a heavy cardboard tube. I took out the sheet, marveled over it for a good long while, and then rolled it back up and put it in the tube for safe-keeping until I figured out what I was going to do with the sheet.
1981 Topps Sheet - Detail 2
It wasn’t long before “What should I do with this?” became “What AM I going to do with this?!?” While the sheet is an unquestionably cool item to own, it’s very problematic to display. It’s really too big to frame… well, not without spending many times what I paid for the sheet. One could put it on the wall as-is, but that would ruin the sheet (something that became less of a concern over the years).

One other problem I ran into as the years passed; 1981 Topps has not aged well for me. I liked it just fine at the time, but now, if I were to do a ranking of all the Topps sets from 1952 to 2015, 1981 would probably fall somewhere between 30th and 40th.

Anyhow, here I am in 2015 and I still have the cards rolled up in a tube. I did think about cutting the sheet into smaller, more frame-able pieces, but I’m not sure whether I’ll do that.

In the meantime, how about a little guided tour through the sheet? Stick around, because at the end I’ll tell you about what else was in the tube, forgotten for 30 years…

1981 Topps had doubleprints. I didn’t remember that, but here’s your visual proof.
1981 Topps Sheet - Doubleprints
…As if 1981 Topps cards need help being less valuable…

One of the things I like about the uncut sheet is checking out the markings along the edges. Here’s the text on the left side of the sheet…
1981 Topps Sheet - left side detail

And some of the markings on the right side of the sheet.
1981 Topps Sheet - right side detail

Here’s a  part of the sheet which includes several “Record Breakers” cards:
1981 Topps Sheet detail with Recordbreakers

One thing I’ve noticed about photos of uncut sheets… nobody ever shows you the back.
1981 Topps Sheet back detail

Here’s the part that surprised me when I took the sheet out of the tube for the photo session… There was an additional offer to get EVERY sheet from 1981 for $4 a pop.

Yep, I could’ve had an entire set in uncut form for $24.
1981 Topps Uncut Sheet offer page
…and another 5 sheets that I’d be looking at thinking “What do I do with this?”

Does anybody else have uncut sheets of cards?  Have you figured out a way to keep/display it that’s better than leaving it rolled up for thirty years?

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13 thoughts on “My Uncut Sheet Of 1981 Topps

  1. This is really cool! Wonder what the entire uncut set could have gone for.

    I have a few uncut sheets from 1987 Topps, but they are only three cards long. I figure it was probably a promo item of some kind.

  2. I have some uncut sheets of minor league sets. I’ve framed one of them. The others are still rolled up as there are only so many walls in the house that are pre-approved for cards.

  3. I had an uncut sheet of the 1991 Pro Line Portraits set, maybe my least favorite football set of all time. Guys posing with practice gear, Zubaz pants, street clothes, just terrible stuff. I got it from a shop owner as a gigt and tacked it up inside the door of our gym at the first school I taught at. I’m guessing it was still there when they demolished the building in 1998.

  4. I’ve nearly purchased an ’82 Topps uncut sheet numerous times (my birth year). I would love to frame one and hang it in my card room, but like you I realized that properly framing this with non-reflective glass and a decent frame would cost me hundreds. Thus, I don’t own any sheets…

  5. I have a few smaller uncut sheets that have four to nine cards on them… but not a 132 card sheet. Although… if I ever stumbled across a 1983 Topps sheet with Gwynn, I’d buy it and have a custom frame built. After that, I’d probably shove it in a closet, since I don’t have any wall space left in my office. ;-)

  6. Isn’t the ’81 Topps Fernando Venezuela RC sorta infamous for being impossible to find centered (like, almost no PSA 10s ever graded of it ever). Seems to me if someone had an uncut sheet with it in great condition, they could take it to a place to get it perfectly cut with lasers and have themselves a very valuable card!

    • That is a very good point… I wonder if anyone has attempted that? I’m pretty sure there’s nobody like that on my sheet, but you had me double-guessing. I have sheet E, Valenzuela is on Sheet F and Tim Raines is on sheet D. Oh, well.

  7. O-PEE-CHEE, WHICH PRODUCED THE CANADIAN VARIATION OF TOPPS BASEBALL FOR MANY YEARS, AND ALSO DID HOCKEY …

    MANY YEARS AGO, ON OCCASION, WHILE IN LONDON, ONTARIO, I WOULD DROP BY THEIR OPERATION WHERE THEY HAD PLENTY OF FULL SHEETS SO PICKED UP WHATEVER THEY DID NOT REALLY HAVE A USE FOR THEN DISTRIBUTE THEM TO COLLECTORS AT CARD SHOWS IN AND AROUND TORONTO AND TO MEMBERS OF THE ORIGINAL BLUE JAYS FAN CLUB, ” THE JAYS BOOSTER CLUB “, FROM 1977 – 1982 …
    SAVED AT LEAST ONE OF EACH SHEET SO HAVE ABOUT 50 DIFFERENT AND EVEN CUT UP SOME OTHERS INTO BLOCKS AND CUBES FOR SOME PEOPLE TO HAVE THEIR FAVOURITE PLAYER WITH EITHER 9 OR 12 CARDS DEPENDING WHERE THEY WERE ON THE SHEET …

    SEEMS AS IF FEW FULL SHEETS ARE AROUND OR BEING OFFERED ANY LONGER.

    • Interesting… were you at OPC on business, or just stop by as a loyal consumer?

      I never know about things like sheets…. are they truly rare, or do the people who own them just not view them as being worth the effort to sell & ship on eBay, or to bring to shows?

  8. I have a sheet of the Kraft Home Run Heroes cards and a few of the Topps Cracker Jack and league leaders sheets from the early 80’s. You’re right, it’s almost impossible to display them properly without going broke. Funny about the 81 set with the six sheets and the double printed cards to fill up the sheet.

    Most people dislike that set for a variety of reasons but I always had a soft spot for it. We moved to a new house later that year and I graduated from high school. It was the last year of old fashioned collecting for me. Our old house had a couple of convenience stores within walking distance so that’s how I got my cards. Our new house did not. The next year I think I bought the 1982 Topps set through a mail order place which just didn’t seem as fun as trading with your friends or trying to guess which packs might get me the cards I needed. And I liked the parallel Coke, Squirt and Drakes sets as supplements to that year too.

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