Not only is 1948 Topps Magic Photos one of their earliest sets, it contains the first baseball cards made by Topps. That’s a big deal in my book. A lot of collectors seem to overlook this important fact. Most are drawn to the 1951 Topps Red/Blue Backs when looking for those first Topps baseball cards. Even that set doesn’t receive a huge amount of attention because it was more of a card game.
Throughout it’s (252) cards, you’ll find a wide range of people, places, and things. Its far from just having baseball stars. Each tiny card came out of the gum pack with a blank front. On the back of every card is a trivia question that will give you a hint as to who or what will appear on the front. In order to make the picture “magically” appear you needed to lightly wet the card front, apply a special chemical that came in the pack, and then expose it to sunlight. Slowly a sepia colored photo would show up.
Based on the procedure needed to make the picture appear, its no surprise that most of these cards aren’t in the best condition. You’re just asking for trouble when applying water, chemicals, and sunlight to a card. Try giving that treatment to modern day cards. I guess people weren’t thinking these would be worth that much.
The sepia-toned photos remind me of the 19th century Old Judge tobacco cards. Topps is known for using retro designs especially today. Its funny to think that one of their first sets was already using a retro theme.
Pricing ranges dramatically. It all depends on condition and subject matter. Fully developed pictures are in much higher demand.