Monday, September 28, 2009

Melting Away-Redfaced on Red Backs

Back in July I posted a long dissertation on the 1951 Baseball Candy issues, which was a universe for all of the 1951 Topps baseball cards. That post in turn was based upon a number of Net54 threads (see the older post for links) and some articles, old and new, in the various hobby publications. While the material concerning the cards themselves was precise, I've had more time to ponder the timeline of distribution which I now believe requires substantial tinkering.

The upside to this reconsideration is I have unearthed an old SCD column that discusses the big Red Back find and it helps pin down that the 100-box-or-so hoard of Red Back Doubles discovered in the early 80's was found in a Philadelphia warehouse. This certainly helps nail down that some, if not all, production of the 1951 cards was undertaken in the Philly area. The big problem with my original post was the timeline on issuance of the penny packs, both the Baseball Candy and Doubles versions and what exactly was contained in those packs.

Further research here at the Archive reveals that the Doubles packs likely came after the Baseball Candy packs. The key is in the caramel that was included with the cards originally.

My long post theorized that this pack held two Blue Backs plus loose candy but I now believe it held a single card and a wrapped piece of caramel. Following the logic that the cards stopped being retailed due to rancid caramel and after contemplating a few comments on various hobby forums over the lack of stained survivors, it certainly seems like the penny Baseball Candy packs were issued this way.

The other bit of information, also from the hobby boards, is that the Red Back hoard found in the early 80's had snow white-backed cards within the Doubles packs. As we know from the previous post, the snow white-backed Reds and Blues were likely printed around the same time and coincide with the second printing of Red Backs, which probably occured in late June of 1951. I think it is safe to say the caramel really did turn bad and it halted Baseball Candy production mid run.

So considering all this then, the Doubles packs had to have come last with an extra card substituted for the removed caramel.

It was obvious before that these did not contain candy but I missed that completely the first time around.

Further theorizing leads me to believe the Blue Backs were first printed for the Baseball Candy penny packs and were to have been followed by the second-run Red Backs into those packs. Why? Well, since panels of two had to be separated into singles for insertion into said packs, the Blues were likely just starting to be packaged and the Reds had probably been separated and awaiting insertion by this time. Otherwise, why not just fold panels in half at the perforations and insert into the Doubles packs? Then the third run of Red Backs (cream backs) just followed suit as the only packaging available was the Doubles packs.

I also have seen some cream backed Connie Macks now, which had not been confirmed when the original post was made over the summer. This too was a key finding regarding timing of production.

So, what does the reconfigured time line look like now?

1) Five cent Baseball Candy packs, with Red Back panels and Connie Mack All Stars, all with cream backs. This is based upon the promo shown in the original post. I think Topps would have focused on nickel pack production first as these were more profitable and sold in the big league cities.

2) Five cent Baseball Candy packs, with Blue Back panels, Major League All Stars and undated Team cards, all of which have white backs. There is then a contractual problem with the three short Printed ML All Stars and production halts on those, if not the entire ML Al Stars set.

3) Stellar sales prompt second Red Back Printing, this time they are mixed with undated Team cards (and probably Connie Macks, which were printed along with the Team Cards) and caramel. All of the cards would have white backs and been sold in nickel Baseball Candy packs.

4a) One Cent Baseball Candy packs, with a Blue Back and wrapped caramel within. This was very short-lived and possibly was when production halted on the rest of the entwined Baseball Candy packs due to caramel and/or contractual problems. It is likely Red Backs were also to be sold in penny Baseball Candy packs but this does not appear to have happened. These Red Backs are held back and are likely white-backed.

4b) A third printing of Red Backs, cream-backed, with dated team cards and either with or without Connie Macks (but likely with) is sold in Baseball Candy packs,cream backs all. Production halted as well at some point in this run. This may support the theory that cards were printed in two locations as the white backs seem to be centered in Philadelphia. Also, did Topps date the team cards to try and avoid a suit from Bowman on players they depicted? Bowman must have had rights to the contested players covering only 1951 then. This too could have led to the end of the Baseball Candy issues since the ML All Stars and Team card sets were now crippled. Another possible run of Connie Macks and Dated Team cards, with tannish cardboard backs, is also halted.

5) Blue Backs get inserted in to Doubles packs. The rest of the run is sold through this way.

6a)) With a mess on their hands, Topps now has way too many Red Backs. White-backed Reds go into Doubles packs, many of which end up in the Philly warehouse, lying in wait for some lucky dealer many moons later.

6b) Cream backed third-run Red Back panels are packaged in the red ten cent Trading Card Guild cello packs for holiday sales in late 1951.

7) The bagged sets with cream, third run Red Backs and tan Connie Macks and dated Team cards are sold once 1952 rolls around, avoiding the 1951 contract issue with Bowman. Anything and everything could have been sold in these bags to get rid of excess stock, with only one or two surviving examples rendering further analysis of the contents moot. Very possibly these were repackaged by someone other than Topps, so the entire balance of 1951 inventory, excepting the three rare ML All Stars may have been purchased by one party.

Of course, that's just my opinion-I could be wrong. If anyone has further ideas, please let me know.

No comments: