Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's Cott To be Good!

Anyone remember the phrase used as the title of today's post? It was quite well known in the 60's and 70's as TV ads for Cott Beverages were seemingly everywhere in the New York tri-state area.  Cott also has an indirect tie to the 1951 Topps Red Backs bagged set and a direct tie to a 1950 (with a 1949 copyright) Ed-U-Cards boxed card game called Batter Up.


We've already looked at the various baseball diamonds that came with the 1950 card game and its 1957 descendant but there is a promotional version of the 1950 game (36 cards)  that was a mail-in premium for Cott's and featured the same paper diamond used in all of these games.  The cards are quite the period piece:

That catcher is going to break a finger if he keeps handling pitches that way! Here is the Cott logo on back:

That's a 1949 Ed-U-Cards copyright at the bottom. And of course, the diamond was in the box as well:

It is worth noting the Card Game Rules are the same as those on the diamonds packed with the '51 Red Backs set but there are slight differences on the bottom left panel when compared to later versions.

The diamond measures 7" x 8 5/8" in case you were wondering.

And let us not forget the boxed version of the 1968 Topps Game Cards, called "Batter Up":

That's a neat box but the graphics look like they depict a game of Town Ball or something. Ed-U-Cards had changed their diamond design for games issued after 1957 (there are some from the 1960's that had MLB themed cards for some teams) and I am not sure if Topps included a diamond in the '68 boxed set as the instructions were on the back of the box:

There is still more to the Topps and Ed-U-Cards connection-I am awaiting something in the mail before I can show you but stay tuned......

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Around The Diamond

Last time out we took a look at the similarities between the paper baseball diamond included with the bagged set of 1951 Topps Red Backs, that was marketed by an anonymous third party and how it compared to a 1957 Ed-U-Cards game called Baseball that included a very similar diamond.  Well it turns out there was an earlier version of the Ed-U-Cards game called Batter Up ( and a related promotional set for Cott Beverages) that was issued in 1949 and was one of their first issues.

That game also included  a diamond, although I can only show the folded front panel (for now):

Fellow blogger Mark Aubrey has thoughtfully provided  a hi-res scan of the '57 diamond for comparison purposes:

Mark has much more on this over at his blog-check it out!  I'll post a full scan of the Batter Up diamond once I have it in my greedy little hands.

There is more to the Topps and Ed-U-Cards connection-stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Diamond Mine

If you are old enough, which means over 40 for this exercise, you might remember using flash cards as a young 'un to learn basic math skills or to gain reading skills.  One of the prime manufacturers of such products was Ed-U-Cards of Queens, New York. Around the time Topps started putting cards and gum together, Ed-U-Cards started selling decks of cards to the public.  One of their games was a Baseball card game that was very similar to the game you could play with Topps 1951 Red and Blue Backs.

A very nice history of Ed-U-Cards appears on the Road Trip 62 blog but one particular picture over there really caught my eye.  Take a gander at the paper baseball diamond that came with the Ed-U-Cards deck:

It looks quite familiar.  Despite the Ed-U-Cards branding, it is the exact diamond that was sold with bagged sets of 1951 Red Back cards, which were likely marketed by a third party after Topps sold off their excess. There is no Ed-U-Cards logo but it's the same diamond for sure:

Of course this begs the question-did Topps sell their excess Red Back stock to Ed-U-Cards? Or did each company merely license or use the diamond for their own purposes?  Here is the bagged set, fronst and back.  You can clearly see the diamond is packaged inside the bag:

This bears further investigation....

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cardboard Connection

Well so much for posts addressing 1957 and later kids!

This was just too good to ignore-an empty shipping carton of 1952 Topps baseball cards has resurfaced, as this Net54 thread shows. The carton is generic, as a closeup of this scan from the seller (Dave & Adam's Card World) details:

To me though, what is interesting above and beyond the fact this thing has survived more than 60 years, is the manufacturer is shown on the bottom thanks to the Certificate of Box Maker information:

I have not yet tracked down G. L. & D. Container Corporation but am hot on the trail.  The 6-52 is the date of manufacture by the way, which pins this as a post third series box to my mind, probably the 4th or 5th but possibly the 6th. We can roughly determine this as the 1st series came out in March and then every six weeks or so another appeared.  The 4th series likely first hit the streets in June-July then.

It's a neat piece, albeit tough to display properly.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Modern Hobby Guide To Topps Chewing Gum: 1938-1956

Well my long term project has been completed and The Modern Hobby Guide To Topps Chewing Gum: 1938-1956 is now available for a free color download or online viewing at:

There is also a companion blog for the Guide: This will be where updates, corrections, news etc will be archived.  I am encouraging readers to send me such corrections and updates as they encounter them. You will see versions 1.0 and 1.1 have already been issued-these were trial runs and version 1.2  version 1.2.1  as hosted there is the current one.  Many more images will be added here for the sets and ephemera covered in the guide.  That part of the project will take some time.

A print on demand  version in B&W will follow at some point, probably on  I have to fix some issues with the checklists before I am comfortable with a print version.

This Topps Archives blog will still be active as well but I am going to reduce my posting frequency to about once per week. Topps Archives will focus more and more on post 1956 issues as I start to contemplate my next project.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Me Tarzan

Sixty years ago a 3-D craze was weeping the nation.  Movies, mostly of the "B" (or lower) variety were manipulated to allow patrons to watch with special glasses to give a feeling of depth, while the occasional surprise, such as a snake suddenly rearing forth into the audience's field of vision, would make everybody jump. Topps took advantage of this pop culture fad by releasing a set in 1953 called Tarzan & The She Devil.

The glasses were quite tiny:

Based upon the movie of the same name, the card fronts in this 60 card set were not viewable unless you had a pair of 3-D glasses:

While not a high demand set, finding cards in top shape is tough due to full belled borders on the front and the back:

Intriguingly, Legendary Auctions just had a lot with the original artwork for this card and it's quite impressive:

Take a look at the delicate wash-work in the background!

It took four layers, created as acetate overlays, to build up the card image before it could go into production.   You can see the depth this added quite easily. Topps enlisted Joe Kubert, the now famous comic book artist, recently deceased, to construct the set.  Kubert was involved with the first 3-D comic book as well and certainly would have been known to Ben Solomon and Woody Gelman, whose art  firm acted as intermediary for the set, despite their both being Topps employees at the time. Kubert was still dabbling in 3-D art as late as 2011, a year before his death. (Update 7/18/23-It's not necessarily Kubert artwork).

Another set, called Tarzan's Savage Fury, came out after this one and did not sell  as well.  The format was exactly the same, Topps just changed the colors of the cards a little.  A tealish green on the front:

Orange on the back:

An alternate set of glasses is out there, almost certainly an O-Pee-Chee product.  Look how the font is different and the country of manufacture is shown:

There have been finds of these cards, especially in penny packs.  Glasses came one per nickel pack; I believe they were also packed loose in the one cent boxes.  Tarzan means "white skin" by the way.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

All Together Now

Topps tested out, at the very end of  during the 1973 baseball card production, an "all 660" configuration, where all of the 660 cards in the set could be found in a given pack.  The 73's were mostly also issued in five series, and the series-by-series process was 21 years old at that point, so this was not something done lightly.  The wax boxes with all 660 cards actually came with a "topper", a little insert from Topps explaining what was happening to the retailer whose mission in life was to assimilate everything Topps told him (or something like that).  Thanks to a post by 70sboxfanatic on's forum:

It seems like a no brainer now but back in '74 (the first year of true "all series" distro)  it would have required a major (and earlier) undertaking by Topps to get all the cards ready for spring training.

It's worth noting that they also did the same thing in Canada, as the OPC wrapper from eBay shows:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

21 Club

In 1968 Topps issued a new style of Tattoo product called 21 Tattoos.  Instead of the old penny pack Tattoos, which offered a slab of gum and a single tat on the inside of the product wrapper, 21 Tattoos offered exactly what it said, on a large, folded sheet, all for a nickel.  With some modifications that eventually resulted in more of an accordion design, this style of tattoo would become the default from 1968 through the mid 70's and has been revived periodically since. 1971 Baseball Tattoos would be a great example of how Topps ended up designing their tattoos products in this accordion style.

After a year or so,  Topps also started charging ten cents for their tatoo products but in 1968 your nickel got  you this, as a recent eBay auction shows:

There are 16 sheets in the set (it you're keeping score at home that's 336 tattoos).  Panel 8, which I found yonks ago at a site labeled "Sportoys 2002" holds an expensive little surprise as the Sultan of Swat makes an appearance in the upper left corner:

Anyone notice the reprint of Atlas from the 1948's Tatoo set? It's on the left side above the Zeppelin and below the Babe.  Here is the primordial version from '48:

The bottom right corner holds an image from 1965's Ugly Stickers. The first sheet shown above also has similar cribs although it is a USA sheet while the Babe above is of Canadian origin as I don't have a scan of the American version. even has an example of a pack:

I'm not sure if this was for the product test or the name changed prior to testing but at one point the set was going to be called 21 Skin Pix. I presume someone let the Topps brass in on the joke at some point on that title! Here is the original artwork for same (for sale on eBay at this moment actually):

I'm not sure how well 21 Tattoos sold but in 1971 Topps upped the ante:

You can clearly see the same graphics were used for the front of the 24 Tattoos wrapper. In fact, the right side panel uses graphics first introduced in the 1949 Tatoo set (1948's had text instructions)-click back and see for yourself.

This particular set was more of a foreign affair as the indicia shows:

Yes, that says "UK and Ireland" and the distribution on this set was not done by Topp's traditional UK partner A&BC but rather Trebor Ltd.  Here, Nigel's Webspace has a couple of more bits on Trebor (use "find" in your browser to see).

24 Tattoos was also issued in 1983, probably with some new tatoos. No word on a Babe Ruth in '71 but I'd wager there was.