ernie banks

1954 Topps Ernie Banks Rookie Card (Value, Rarity, Investment)

The Ernie Banks rookie card from the 1954 Topps set is one of the classic, must have rookie cards from the 1950s.

Updated Sep 30, 2023

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The Ernie Banks rookie card from the 1954 Topps set is viewed as one of the hobby's most iconic baseball cards and is one the most valuable rookie cards of all time.

Today, the Banks rookie card, in mint condition can sell for upwards of $200K.

So, why is the Ernie Banks Rookie Card so valuable?

Well, it all really comes down to the legend of Banks.

Ernie Banks was not just a Hall of Fame player. He was a Chicago icon.

His signature "Let's play two!" approach to the game of baseball thrilled Chicago Cubs fans, as did his uncommon power from the shortstop position.

Off the field, his charitable work and success as a businessman earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A testament to his enduring reputation among Americans, young and old.

The 1954 Ernie Banks rookie card is a timeless classic appealing to vintage baseball card collectors.

More...

Who Is Ernie Banks?

No player is more closely associated with the Chicago Cubs than Ernie Banks.

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1955 Topps Ernie Banks

Banks played his entire career with the Cubs, even voted by fans as the greatest Cub of all time.  And it didn't take long for Banks to have an impact in the big leagues.

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A statue depicting a smiling Banks at-bat greets fans outside venerable Wrigley Field today. (source Wiki Commons)

By 1955, his third season in the Majors, Banks was on his way to hitting a record-setting five grand slams along with 44 home runs, also a then-record for a shortstop.

By 1959, he became the first player in National League history to record back-to-back MVP awardsThen, in 1960, he became the first Cub to win a Gold Glove award. 

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Ernie Banks 1955 Bowman card

Despite Banks's consistent excellence, the Cubs never had a winning season in his first ten seasons with the team.

Injuries made it an obvious call for the hard-hitting Banks to re-establish himself as a slugging first baseman full-time in 1962.

Though he never again reached the 40-homer mark, his consistency allowed him to smash his 500th career home run in 1970.  Banks became the ninth player to reach that milestone, finishing his career with 512 home runs among the top 25 all-time.

In an era where some peers posted bigger numbers, achieved more team success, or played under a brighter public spotlight, Ernie Banks stood out as an ambassador for the game whose popularity was universal. It's no surprise there is such demand for his rookie card.

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"From the minute he woke up to the minute he went to bed, he’s the same way with a positive attitude and a joy to be around"

Billy Williams ‧ Longtime teammate of Banks and fellow Hall of Famer  

Banks' late '60s manager Leo Durocher, a notoriously tough customer, once said, "Banks is the one nice guy who finished first — but he had the talent to go with it."

The 1954 Topps Ernie Banks Rookie Card

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1954 Topps Baseball set is one of the most popular baseball sets ever made

The set includes over 60 rookie cards and is chock full of gorgeous visuals featuring two-player images, a team logo, and a unique color background that varies by player.

The white-backgrounded Banks rookie card, #94, is one of the set's headliners alongside rookie cards of fellow Hall of Famers Hank Aaron (the set's most valuable card) and Al Kaline.

The Banks rookie card features Mr. Cub's infectious smile in the primary image, with the secondary image displaying Ernie's fearsome batting stance.

The card back details his exploits as a Negro Leaguer, Army Artilleryman, and high school track, baseball, and football star. Pretty impressive resume for the then-23-year-old!

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How Much Is An Ernie Banks Rookie Card Worth?

Only two PSA 10 (Gem Mint) copies of Mr Cub's rookie card exist. They don't change hands often; the last sale in 2012 was for over $142,000

Today, that number would be much, much higher -- by comparison, the last PSA 9 (Mint) auction recorded in May 2021 saw the card sell for $144,000 -- more than the previous known PSA 10 sale.

PSA 8 (NM-MT) graded samples of the Ernie Banks rookie card don't come cheap, either. Recent auction values for cards in this condition average in the $33,000 range.

Hoping for a chance to snare Mr. Cub on a more modest budget? 

There's still a chance; auctions in PSA 1 grade (Poor condition) can still be won for less than $500, and ungraded copies in decent shape can still be found on eBay for less than $1,000 on average. Still a solid value.

How Rare Is An Ernie Banks Rookie Card?

As mentioned before, just two of the 3,365 cards graded by PSA have returned the coveted 10 grade.

1954 Topps Ernie Banks Rookie Card PSA Recent Sales and PSA Populations

Fourteen PSA 9 graded copies, along with 14 grade 9's with qualifiers, are known to exist.

Most 1954 Banks rookie cards graded by PSA receive between a 3 (VG) and 6 (EX-MT) grade, with a grade of PSA 4 (VG-EX) being the most common.

Centering and print defects are common issues with this card, and the overall graded population distribution for the Banks card is in line with the set's other superstar cards.

Ernie Banks rookie, commonly found off center like this example.

How Much Is An Autographed Ernie Banks Rookie Card Worth?

PSA has authenticated nearly 100 autographed Ernie Banks rookie cards, a fairly impressive number given not only the age and value of the card but since the card design incorporates a facsimile signature, meaning any autographed samples would likely display Mr. Cub's signature directly above another signature!

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Based on recent eBay sales and listings, expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 for an authenticated Banks autographed rookie card.

1958 Topps #310 Ernie Banks

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1958 Topps Ernie Banks

While it isn't a rookie card, any budget collector should consider this similar Ernie Banks baseball card, also of 1950s vintage and issued in the first of his MVP seasons.

The solid background, portrait and team logo on this issue echo the feel of the iconic rookie issue but can be found on eBay for under $100 ungraded in EX condition or better.

1958 TOPPS #310 ERNIE BANKS PSA 5 03620958

$266.54  
End Date: Monday Dec-04-2023 21:35:06 EST
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What's the Investment Potential?

The large and loyal Chicago Cubs fan base and the iconic place of the 1954 Topps set within the hobby make the Ernie Banks rookie card one of the more reliable investment-quality vintage baseball cards of the 1950s

Pricing on the card in high grades has significantly increased of late -- PSA 8 sales recorded in mid-2020 were in the $10,000 to $15,000 range, while those recorded just 18 months later consistently reach $35,000 -- so it's hard to say where such momentum may lead in the short-term for this long-established card.

That said, there's a condition and price point for just about everyone out there, so for those looking to add Mr. Cub to their collections, finding your sweet spot on price will likely be rewarded in the long run.

1954 Topps Ernie Banks Rookie Cards on eBay

1954 TOPPS #94 ERNIE BANKS CUBS ROOKIE

$550.00  

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1954 TOPPS #94 ERNIE BANKS CUBS ROOKIE

$600.00  

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1954 Topps Mr Cub Ernie Banks Rc Cubs Beautiful

$1,299.99  

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1954 Topps #94 Ernie Banks Chicago Cubs RC Rookie HOF PSA 4 VG-EX

$801.00  (28 bids)
End Date: Monday Dec-11-2023 23:59:01 EST

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1954 Topps #94 Ernie Banks RC SGC 50 or 4 PSA BGS Mr. CUB!! HOF

$585.00  (6 bids)
End Date: Wednesday Dec-06-2023 21:01:01 EST

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1954 Topps #94 Ernie Banks RC Cubs - PSA 5 - LOOKS NICER !!

$2,500.00  
End Date: Friday Dec-08-2023 15:36:36 EST
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Brad Worley

About the author

Brad is a freelance writer and long-time collector focusing on vintage basketball and baseball cards. He has an unhealthy memory for junk wax ephemera and a healthy skepticism of cards in cans.

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  1. A fun fact: A stolen Ernie Banks rookie card gets the ball rolling in a season four episode of According to Jim, "Kentucky Fried Beltzman."

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