Batman Rookie Cards and Other Vintage Cards


Batman Rookie Cards

When I named the site “RookieSportsCards.com” it didn’t occur to me that the word “sports” would be limiting. In the past I’ve stretched the limit of the word to include professional wrestlers, but in this post I plan break all the way through the limit. The idea of a fictional character from comic books having a rookie may be a weird concept to some collectors, but Batman trading cards — fueled by the debut of the live-action Batman TV — burst onto the scene in 1966. That year saw three different Batman sets. One of them is quite valuable, one is likely still undervalued (investment opportunity), and one is a deck of playing cards that produced some cool oddball rookies. In this post I’ll walk though all the Batman rookies of 1966.

1966 Topps Batman - The Best Batman Rookie
1966 Topps Batman – The Best Batman Rookie

1966 Topps “The Batman” Card #1

On January 12, 1966 Batman made a leap from the comic books to the TV screen with the debut of Batman, which starred Adam West as the caped crusader. Because of this, trading card companies flooded the market with Batman sets. Topps started this by releasing the first of five Batman sets, which is now referred to as “Black Bat” cards because of the color of the bat logo on the card. Batman was extremely popular in 1966 and his popularity hasn’t really waned. His comic books are still made more than half a century later and Hollywood never seems to tire of making new Batman movies. It would be expected that the first trading cards of a hero this iconic would be valuable, but there are some additional factors that make the 1966 Topps Black Bat “The Batman” card #1 especially appealing to collectors.

Other Factors:

  • Non-Sports Cards: For a long time, non-sport trading cards were not viewed as investments like sports trading cards were. For this reason sets like the 1966 Topps Batman cards were not always protected and cared for as well as sports cards. That makes it extra hard to find these cards in pristine condition, but extra valuable when they are found.

  • Card #1: Compounding the factor above, in the 1960s it was very common to keep trading cards together, stacking them in order and wrapping rubber bands around them. For this reason, the first card (and the last) was often damaged by the rubber band and is even that much more difficult to find in good condition.

  • Solo card of “The Batman”: Even without factoring in the damage to #1 cards during this era, the 1966 Topps “The Batman” card would still be the most collectable card in this set. Batman is featured on a large percentage of the cards, but this is his “solo” card in the set. Not only that, it has an iconic look to it because of the amazing art by Bob Powell and Norman Sanders. It is the most common card considered to be Batman’s rookie, it’s the most valuable, and I don’t see that changing.

1966 Topps Batman (Black Bat) Trading Cards Set Details

Topps released six different sets of Batman cards in 1966. The first three sets all featured art penciled by Bob Powell and painted by Noman Saunders and are similar, but easy to tell apart by the color of the bat logo on the front. The “Black Bat” set was the first release and featured 55 cards. This set has a lot of in-action type cards, but features solo cards for Batman and Robin as the first two cards of the set.

  • Year: 1966
  • Manufacturer: Topps
  • Number of cards: 55
  • Set Name: Batman Trading Cards
  • Series: Black Bat
  • Pencil Artist: Bob Powell
  • Painter: Norman Saunders

1966 Topps Batman (Black Bat) Trading Cards Set Details card #1 Details

  • Card no: #1 of 55
  • Name on Card: The Batman
  • Size: 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ (standard size)

Front of the card

The front of the 1966 Topps Batman (Black Bat) card #1 has a vertical layout with a thin white border framing in a painting of Batman jumping down from a rooftop. The painting has a red background that gives a nice contrast to the blue and gray suit worn by Batman. You can see the bat signal in the sky just over his right shoulder. The Batman logo is in the lower right corner of the card and contains the text “The Batman.”

1966 Topps "The Batman" #1
1966 Topps Batman Trading Cards “The Batman” #1
Verdict: Rookie Card

Shop for the 1966 Topps Batman “The Batman” card #1 on eBay (affiliate link), because this is the most recognized and valuable Batman rookie.


Back of the card

The back of the 1966 Topps Batman Trading Cards “The Batman” #1 is a horizontally layout that is mostly pink. The card number appears in the upper left corner on a batman logo. “The Batman”, which is the card title for this card, appears on the top center and a paragraph describing the scene on the front of the card appears below the title. The right side of the card is taken up from top to bottom with an illustration of Batman running.

1966 Topps "The Batman" #1 - Back
1966 Topps Batman Trading Cards “The Batman” #1 – Back

Out of the night flashes a black, gray, and gold clad figure, swinging from the rooftops on the end of a long, silken rope. Below him are thugs, fleeing the scene of a robbery. Before they realize what is upon them, the mysterious figure drops down, throwing the shadow of an enormous bat upon the walls behind him, as he rips into the disconcerted thieves like an avenging tornado.

1966 Topps “The Batman” #1

Batman Rookie Card Value

The Batman “rookie” card is one of the most iconic vintage comic book trading cards . The chart below was pulled from the PSA website on 10/25/2021. It shows prices for the Batman 1966 (Black Bat) #1 card.

"The Batman" 1966 Topps Rookie Card Auction Prices (10/25/21)
“The Batman” 1966 Topps Rookie Card Auction Prices (10/25/21) (source: www.psacards.com)

Keep in mind that prices fluctuate. While PSA is a great way to find out the value of a card, we recommend going to eBay to see what cards are currently selling for on the world’s most popular auction site. Click here to view current auctions for the 1966 Topps Batman rookie card #1.


Other Relevant Batman Cards

1966 Topps Batman (Black Bat) Trading Cards card #1 is the most valuable and sought after Batman rookie card, but there are some other great Batman rookie cards somewhat overlooked. All of the cards discussed here are from 1966, the year the Batman TV show debuted. Topps released six sets that year and all of the cards I’ll talk about below except for one come from these sets. It’s worth noting that all the cards in these sets can be considered rookies, but some are clearly more collectable because they are solo cards instead of “in-action” cards. These are the six Topps sets:

  • 1966 Topps Batman (Black Bat)
    • 55 cards
    • Art by Bob Powell and Norman Sanders
    • Black bat logo
  • 1966 Topps Batman A Series (Red Bat)
    • 44 cards
    • Art by Bob Powell and Norman Sanders
    • Red bat logo
  • 1966 Topps Batman B Series (Blue Bat) (Cowl Back variant)
    • 44 cards
    • Art by Bob Powell and Norman Sanders
    • Blue bat logo
  • 1966 Topps Batman B Series (Blue Bat) (Puzzle Back variant)
    • 44 cards
    • Art by Bob Powell and Norman Sanders
    • Blue bat logo
  • 1966 Topps Batman Riddler Back
    • 38 cards
    • Photos from live-action Batman show
    • Riddle back
  • 1966 Topps Bat Laffs Cards
    • 55 cards
    • Photos from live-action Batman show
    • Puzzle back with joke

1966 Topps Batman Riddler Back “The Caped Crusader” #8

The 1966 Topps Batman (Riddler Back) “The Caped Crusader” card #8 is my second-favorite Batman rookie card, although it’s very close between this one and Bat Laffs card that is next on the list. This is Batman’s solo card from the 38-card Riddler Back set. While I don’t love the border design of this card, it has a full close-up photo of Batman (Adam West) and the back has a brief blurb and a riddle. It’s the back of this card that puts it just above the next card on the list.

1966 Topps Batman Riddler Back "The Caped Crusader" #8 - Front
1966 Topps Batman Riddler Back “The Caped Crusader” #8 – Front
1966 Topps Batman Riddler Back "The Caped Crusader" #8 - Back
1966 Topps Batman Riddler Back “The Caped Crusader” #8 – Back

Shop for the 1966 Topps Batman Riddler Back “The Caped Crusader” card #8 (affiliate link), because it’s the best Batman rookie with a photo from the live-action series.

Verdict: Rookie Card


1966 Bat Laffs Batman (Adam West) card #13

The 1966 Bat Laffs Batman card #13 is one of my favorite Batman rookie cards. This card features a very simple design with only a white boarder framing a very cool photo of Batman (Adam West). The only other element is the card number “13” in a circle down in the lower-right corner. I like the front of this card much more than the front of the Riddle Back #8 card above, but the back of this one leaves something to be desired. That’s because the back of this card is just a puzzle with a corny Batman joke at the top. Still, it’s a great Batman rookie that I personally feel is undervalued.

1966 Topps Bat Laffs Batman #13 - Front
1966 Topps Bat Laffs Batman #13 – Front
1966 Bat Laffs Batman #13 - Back
1966 Bat Laffs Batman #13 – Back

Shop for the Topps Bat Laffs card #13 on eBay (affiliate link), because it has a better looking front design than the Riddler Back card #8.

Verdict: Rookie Card


1966 Whitman Playing Card Batman

The Topps cards have taken up the majority of this post, but there is another great 1966 Batman card to know. This one isn’t from a trading card set, but from a playing card set instead. The Batman card game was a matching game and thus came with two copies of this card. This card is fairly rare and a worthy collectible even though it wasn’t intended to be a trading card.

1966 Whitman Playing Card Batman - Front
1966 Whitman Playing Card Batman – Front
1966 Whitman Playing Card Batman - Back
1966 Whitman Playing Card Batman – Back

Shop for 1966 Whitman Batman Playing Cards (affiliate link)

Verdict: Oddball Rookie Card



Other 1966 Topps Batman (Black Bat) cards

The 1966 Topps Batman (Black Bat) cards were the first series. The set contains 55 cards, many of which depict Batman and can easily be considered Batman rookies. Here are a couple of my favorites:

1966 Topps "The Bat Signal" #3
1966 Topps “The Bat Signal” #3
Verdict: Rookie Card


1966 Topps "Grim Realization" #7
1966 Topps “Grim Realization” #7
Verdict: Rookie Card

Shop for 1966 Topps Batman “Black Bat” Cards on eBay (affiliate link), because they are first-series Topps Batman rookie cards.



1966 Topps Batman Series A ‘Red Bat’ cards

The 1966 Topps Batman Series A (Red Bat) cards was the second series released by Topps in 1966. This set contained 44 cards and looks like the “Black Bat” cards except for the different color logo. Here are a few of my favorites:

1966 Topps Batman (Series A 'Red Bat') "Boiling Bath" #12a
1966 Topps Batman (Series A ‘Red Bat’) “Boiling Bath” #12a
Verdict: Rookie Card


1966 Topps Batman (Series A 'Red Bat') "Flying Foes" #31a
1966 Topps Batman (Series A ‘Red Bat’) “Flying Foes” #31a
Verdict: Rookie Card

Shop for 1966 Topps Batman “Red Back” Cards on eBay (affiliate link), because they are inexpensive and qualify as Batman rookie cards.


Other 1966 Topps Batman Series B ‘Blue Bat’ cards

The 1966 Topps Batman Series B (Blue Bat) cards were the third set released by Topps in 1966. This are similar to the first two sets, but have a blue logo. There were two variants of this set with different backs. The “cowl back” variant has a descriptive paragraph while the “puzzle back” has a puzzle piece. Neither variant seems to me significantly more rare than the other. Here are a couple nice examples from this set:

1966 Topps Batman (Series B 'Blue Bat') "Routing the Riddler" #22b
1966 Topps Batman (Series B ‘Blue Bat’) “Routing the Riddler” #22b
Verdict: Rookie Card


1966 Topps Batman (Series B 'Blue Bat') "Penned by the Penguin" #16b
1966 Topps Batman (Series B ‘Blue Bat’) “Penned by the Penguin” #16b
Verdict: Rookie Card

Shop for 1966 Topps Batman “Blue Bat” cards on eBay (affiliate link), because they are cheap and qualify as rookies.


1966 Batman ‘Riddler Back’ Cards

The 1966 Topps “Riddler Back” set has 38 cards that feature photos from the live-action TV series. The back of the card has a riddle (as shown above). Here are a few cards from this set I like:

1966 Topps Riddler Back "Back to the Bat Foil" #15
1966 Topps Riddler Back “Back to the Bat Foil” #15
Verdict: Rookie Card
1966 Topps Riddler Back "Hide and Go Riddle" #16
1966 Topps Riddler Back “Hide and Go Riddle” #16
Verdict: Rookie Card

Shop for 1966 Topps Batman Riddler Back cards on eBay (affiliate link), because they’re awesome affordable vintage rookie cards.


1966 Bat Laffs Cards

The 1966 Topps Bat Laffs set has 55 cards that feature photos from the live-action Batman TV show. These cards have a very simple design on the front and puzzle piece and Batman joke on the back. Here are a few of my favorite cards from this set. (I particularly love the Batman and Robin card #27.)

1966 Batman Bat Laffs #27
1966 Batman Bat Laffs #27
Verdict: Rookie Card


1966 Batman Bat Laffs #26
1966 Batman Bat Laffs #26
Verdict: Rookie Card

Shop for 1966 Topps Bat Laffs Cards on eBay (affiliate link), because they’re affordable rookies.


Batman’s Legacy

Batman is one of the most popular and well-known superheroes of all time. His comic books have remained popular from the time he first appeared in Detective Comics #27 way back in 1939. He has been the subject of TV shows, animated series, and major motion pictures. Several major Hollywood actors jumped at the chance to play the caped crusader including Adam West, Michael Keaton, George Clooney, Val Kilmer, Ben Affleck, Christian Bale and Robert Pattinson. He has become so popular that even supporting characters in the Batman universe like the Catwoman and The Joker have been the subjects of their own movies. Here’s a list of all movies and TV shows about Batman as a main or supporting character.

  • Movies
    • 1943 – Batman
    • 1949 – Batman and Robin
    • 1966 – Batman
    • 1989 – Batman
    • 1992 – Batman Returns
    • 1993 – Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
    • 1995 – Batman Forever
    • 1997 – Batman & Robin
    • 2005 – Batman Begins
    • 2008 – The Dark Knight
    • 2012 – The Dark Knight Rises
    • 2016 – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
    • 2016 – Suicide Squad – 2016
    • 2017 – The Lego Batman Movie
    • 2017 – Justice League
    • 2019 – Joker
    • 2021 – Zack Snyder’s Justice League
    • 2022 – The Batman
    • 2022 – The Flash

  • Television show(s)
    • Batman – 1966–68
    • The Adventures of Batman – 1968–69
    • Batman/Superman Hour – 1968–69
    • The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour – 1977–78
    • The New Adventures of Batman – 1977
    • Batman: The Animated Series – 1992–95
    • The New Batman Adventures – 1997–99
    • Batman Beyond – 1999–2001
    • Birds of Prey – 2002–2003
    • The Batman – 2004–2008
    • atman: The Brave and the Bold – 2008–11
    • Beware the Batman – 2013–14
    • Gotham – 2014
    • Pennyworth – 2019
    • Batwoman – 2019
    • Harley Quinn – 2019

Get Your Batman Rookie

Do you want to own a 1966 Topps Batman “Black Bat” rookie (#1)? If so, we recommend starting your search on eBay – the world’s #1 card trading place. Even if you’re not planning to buy one just yet, it’s fun to look at all the great cards currently for sale.


Want Batman Merch?

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All About Batman Rookies Infographic

Batman Rookie Cards Infographic
Batman Rookie Cards Infographic

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2 thoughts on “Batman Rookie Cards and Other Vintage Cards

  • November 25, 2021 at 8:41 pm
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    This is actually an amazing and well researched article. Spider-Man rookie cards are in the 1990 marvel impel set. i think 5 or 6 different cards. All rookies.

    Reply
  • November 25, 2021 at 11:22 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks, Alexander. I’ll definitely write about Spider-Man rookies at some point.

    Reply

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