This blog spent the last fortnight profiling Venezuelan sets, a South American neighbor that's home to many baseball fans and its own professional league since 1945. While native card production stretches back into the 1920s, Topps made the country more accessible to modern collectors by licensing their designs locally on-and-off during the 1960s. Building a complete set today is pretty much impossible, but singles turn up on eBay for as little as $10.
- 1959: American and Venezuelan (198 cards, no album)
- 1960: American and Venezuelan (198 cards, no album)
- 1961: American only
- 1962: American and Venezuelan (198 cards, no album)
- 1963: American only
- 1964: American and Venezuelan (370 cards, with album)
- 1965: American (and first O-Pee-Chee set)
- 1966: American and Venezuelan (370 cards, with album)
- 1967: American only (sort of, see below)
- 1968: American and Venezuelan (370 cards, with album)
It took several years, but finally found a 1968 Venezuelan #5 in late 2015, the last of my South American imports. (Its design copies Topps directly, so looks like this NL Home Run Leaders card.)
|1968 Topps Baseball #5|
The Oct 1967 to Jan 1968 winter season marked a turning point for South American issues, as they changed focus to Venezuelan pros.
- 1967 Venezuelan League (and MLB) (338 cards, 150 major leaguers)
- 1970 Venezuelan League (300 cards)
- 1972 Venezuelan MLB Stamps (242 stamps, all major leaguers)
- 1972 Venezuelan League Stamps (249 stamps)
- 1973 Venezuelan League Stamps (275 stamps)
- 1974 Venezuelan League Stamps (275 stamps)
- 1976 Venezuelan League Stamps (330 stamps)
- 1977 Venezuelan League (and MLB) Stamps (402 stamps, 50 major leaguers)
Just three years in that decade feature players in MLB uniform, though they all contain current, former, and future major leaguers playing for local teams. Several significant "pre-rookie" cards also appear, including a 1973 stamp of HOFer Jim Rice.
|Scan courtesy Freedom Cardboard forums|
Topps made Venezuela (1959) and Canada (1965, via O-Pee-Chee) their first "expansion" partners, much like the MLB expanded west following WWII. Questions remain around how Topps controlled (or didn't control) foreign set licensing, distribution, and availability, so it's been fun researching their makeup. See any of the links above for deeper dives into individual sets.