Graded VG 3 by PSA (submitted by REA). Presented is an extraordinary newly discovered example of the rarest of all 1952 Topps "Canadian" Gray Back variations: #189 Pete Reiser. This is one of only fourteen gray-back cards of #189 Reiser evaluated by PSA to date. A quick look at the total numbers on PSA's population report confirms that this is by far the rarest of all 1952 Topps "Gray Back" variations. Over the past four years, a total of only five examples have been sold publicly, and the reported final sale prices have ranged from a low of $4,350 (PSA FR 1.5) and as high as $20,000 (PSA VG 3). This is the only second example we have offered in the last eighteen years! (The first appeared as Lot 3032 in REA's Fall 2019 auction, realizing $9,600.)
Cards #131-190 within the 407-card 1952 Topps set are most commonly found printed on cream-colored stock. A small percentage of cards have been found printed on gray-colored stock. The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards presents a theory that these cards have come to be known as Canadian issued because the same phenomenon exists with 1954 Topps and an abbreviated set printed on gray stock designed for issue solely in Canada that year. Some collectors feel that this is a misnomer, instead theorizing that Topps produced a run of cards in this manner for one of two reasons. One is as simple as a temporary shortage of regular cream-colored stock in the factory during production. The other focuses on the slight differences in the card fronts, which as the Standard Catalog notes are "subjectively darker or more muted than the 'U.S.A.' versions." Some collectors believe that these cards were designed as part of a distribution arrangement with Kleenex and Doeskin tissues in which cards were inserted with packages of tissues. While no concrete evidence of this relationship has been unearthed, it is known that the "Rails and Sails" nonsport issue produced by Topps in 1955 was issued along with Doeskin tissues at the time. The late Bob Lemke, former editor of the Standard Catalog, presents a detailed analysis of these variations on his blog (http://boblemke.blogspot.com/2011/05/1952-topps-not-canadian.html), which includes input from several longtime collectors and hobby researchers. Whatever the explanation for these cards, it is without dispute that they are extremely rare, and even a single example can be hard to find!
The offered card is bright, crisp, and perfectly clean, both front and back, with even corner wear, bold colors, and centering just slightly to the left. Because of its rarity and the fact that only a handful of examples have been sold publicly, there is no consensus on the value for this card. We are confident the auction process will provide clarity. This is an extremely attractive, newly discovered example of this virtually impossible-to-find 1952 Topps variation, worthy of any 1952 Topps master set. This outstanding card originates from the collection of legendary pioneer collector Paul Pollard. Reserve $500. Estimate (open).