Q&A – How Can I Tell If A Topps Tiffany Baseball Set Has Been Searched?

Question: Could you please tell me which Topps Tiffany Baseball sets arrived from the factory sealed in cellophane?  Looking on eBay I see some that are and some that aren’t.  I don’t want to buy a set that’s been searched.

Answer: Between 1984 and 1991 Topps issued Tiffany sets to various dealers, hobby shops, and mail-in publications.  These cards look just like the normal flagship sets except they’re printed on high-quality stock.  For those same years Topps also issued Tiffany cards for their Traded sets.  Each set has a limited print run.

The sets issued between 1984 and 1988 did not come packaged in cellophane.  Just the seal on the lid.  Its the years 1989-1991 where things can get a little confusing.

  • 1989 Topps Tiffany – Clear cellophane & seal
  • 1989 Topps Traded Tiffany – No cellophane, just seal
  • 1990 Topps Tiffany – Just seal
  • 1990 Topps Traded Tiffany – Clear cellophane & seal
  • 1991 Topps Tiffany – Topps branded cellophane & seal
  • 1991 Topps Traded Tiffany – Topps branded cellophane & seal

If purchasing a set, there are some factors to consider.  Does the box show any signs of prior opening?  You want everything to be flat and flush.  Bent-up flaps are not a good signal.  The top part of the box where the lid tucks in should be completely straight and tight against the cards.  Cracking can easily take place on the lid’s hinge after it has been opened.  Inspect the hinge looking for any cracking, bending, and/or change in color.

How does the box feel from the outside?  If its truly never been opened before the box should feel full.  The cards are packed tightly inside.  You shouldn’t feel any movement.  Movement could indicate that cards might be missing.

Finally, inspect the label.  Resealed boxes can have double labeling.  Upon breaking the set’s original seal to remove the good cards, people have been known to print-up fake labels to place over the older broken ones.  Stay far away from them if you see any signs of two labels.  Others have figured out ways to remove the original label without damaging it.  Once they’ve searched the set they simply reapply the label.

Just because a set may have been shipped sealed in cellophane from the factory doesn’t mean it hasn’t been searched over the years.  Resealed Topps Tiffany sets have been making the rounds for a long time.  Its a major problem you have to watch out for.

This 1985 Topps Tiffany set did not originally come shipped in cellophane from Topps.  It was added later by a scammer once the Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, and Kirby Puckett cards were removed.

If You Had To Choose

Who would you rather see try and sell you a box of 1988 Donruss?


Don West


Billy Mays – This guy made the famous catch, right?


Dan Ackroyd

I have to go with Don West.  He was really fun to watch.

If You Had to Choose

Lets say you are searching through your grandma’s attic and find an old baseball bat.  She says you can keep it if you want, if not she would just throw it out.  You take the bat home and decide to take it to the 2009 National Sports Collectors Convention next year to see if anyone can help you identify it.  A year goes by and you take the bat to the show.  Walking around the show for a bit you find Mastro Auctions and decide to check them out to see if they can help.  Placing the bat down on the table, many of the employees of Mastro Auctions rush over to take a look at the old piece of wood.  After closer insepction and doing some research, they identify it as an authentic bat once used by Connie Mack, the 1937 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and Philadelphia A’s catcher/manager.  Mastro Auctions says that they have never seen an item like this before and if they were to put it up for auction it could sell for $75,000.00.  The National Baseball Hall of Fame found out from Mastro Auctions that you have a full size bat once used by Mack and would like to add it to their museum.  The HOF tells you that they cannot purchase the bat because they only accept donations.  Major League Baseball has declined to buy the bat from you and donate it to the Hall of Fame.  You are left with a decsion to make.  Do you sell the bat and make $75,000.00, or donate the bat to the HOF and have your name next to it saying, “Authentic Connie Mack Used Baseball Bat donated by XXXXXXX” forever encased with the rest of the artifacts?  What would you do?