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.

Card of the Day: Steve Trachsel 1997 Fleer Tiffany #287

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Card of the Day: Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Bowman Tiffany RC #220

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Card of the Day: Vince Coleman 1986 Topps Tiffany RC #370

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Card of the Day: Jeff Bagwell 1991 Topps Traded Tiffany #4T

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Flashback Product of the Week: 1984 Topps Tiffany

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From 1984 to 1991, Topps issued limited edition sets that paralleled their regular and Traded sets.  These high-end sets were known as “Tiffany” sets.  The cards look almost identical to their massed produced counterpart, except they were printed in Ireland on white card stock instead of the standard grey, and have glossy fronts.  When placed side-by-side you can clearly tell which one is of the higher quality.  These were distributed in a dealer exclusive factory set form, although Topps did offer some of them directly to customers.  This means only certain dealers were able to get their hands on them.  About 10,000 1984 Topps Tiffany sets were produced.  That isn’t a lot considering at the time how much overproduction was poisoning the market.

Given that the Tiffany sets were issued in much lower quantities, demand for the Tiffany cards is much higher.  The Tiffany card of a specific player will almost always be worth more than the regular version.  Out of the 1984 Topps Tiffany set, the Don Mattingly rookie is by far the most popular.  Complete sets continue to sell for over $100.00 which is mind blowing since these come from an era filled with totally worthless junk.  All of the Tiffany sets from this time still hold some good value today.

For those collectors looking for the very best card of a player from the 80’s or early 90’s, Tiffany is the way to go.  Upper Deck brought this card quality to the masses in 1989 with their first set.  Topps did revive the Tiffany brand in 2001 and 2002, but since has disappeared.

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Card of the Day: Billy Bean 1988 Topps Tiffany #267


Card of the Day: Bobby Valentine 1989 Topps Tiffany #314


Card of the Day: Mickey Morandini 1988 Topps Traded Tiffany USA #71


Card of the Day: Juan Samuel 1989 Topps Tiffany #575