The 1950s ushered in the Golden Age of baseball cards, and along with it came a host of regional issues that captured the interest of collectors and have never let go. Even today, 1950s regional and non-mainstream issues – particularly those from 1954, for whatever reason – remain immensely popular among collectors.
The Red Heart Dog Food set of 1954 is among the most popular, due to its beautiful, simplistic design, its colorful cards, and its incredible player selection. With ten tough single printed cards and 11 Hall of Famers, this 33-card set boasts something that neither the Topps nor Bowman issues of that year can: a card of Hall of Famer Stan Musial. One of the more difficult red-background cards (the cards were issued in three colored series: blue, green and red, with the red being the most scarce), the single printed card of the popular Cardinals Hall of Famer is easily the set’s key card. The issue’s desirability factor is further elevated by the presence of a beautiful portrait card of Mickey Mantle, a tough, single-printed #1 card of Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn, and a very popular card of Dodgers centerfielder Duke Snider.
Presented here is an exquisite high-grade complete set of 33 cards, none of which have been graded lower than NM-MT 88, and an astonishing two-thirds of which have graded MINT 9. The set currently ranks #1 on the SGC Registry with an incredible 94.03 GPA; very few sets on the much larger PSA Registry have attained a GPA this high.
This is easily one of the four or five finest graded 1954 Red Heart Dog Food sets in the entire hobby. Most importantly, the set’s two key cards, of Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle, have both attained a grade of MINT 95, each with virtually perfect centering. The SMR value of those two cards alone eclipses $10,000!
A condition breakdown of the set’s cards is as follows:
SGC MINT 96 (22 cards): #2, 4, 5, 10 Jim Gilliam, 13 Ted Kluszewski, 14 Ralph Kiner, 15, 17, 18 Mickey Mantle, 19 Billy Martin, 20 Gil McDougald, 21, 22 Minnie Minoso, 23 Stan Musial, 24, 25, 26, 27 Red Schoendienst, 28 Enos Slaughter, 31, 32, 33 Gus Zernial; SGC NM-MT+ 92 (6 cards): #1 Richie Ashburn, 6 Carl Erskine, 8, 11, 12 George Kell, 30 Warren Spahn; SGC NM-MT 88 (5 cards): #3, 7, 9 Nellie Fox, 16 Bob Lemon, 29 Duke Snider.
When a set’s lowest grade is NM-MT and fewer than 20% of the cards in the set grade that low, you’re looking at a spectacular set. Many collectors feel the Red Heart Dog Food set is the most attractive of all the “oddball” sets ever issued, and one of the most beautiful card issues of the 1950s in general. This is an extraordinary example, one of the very finest sets known in the hobby.