Thursday, May 23, 2013

Target: Moon Date

Back in 2012 I had an article appear in The Wrapper #265 that compared the vastly similar Space Cards and Target: Moon issues and attempted to date each set as the conventional hobby wisdom had them both coming out at the same time in 1957 or '58.  I was able to determine Space Cards had been issued in 1957 and Target: Moon (the blue backed edition) had come out sometime after mid-1958 due to differences in the Bazooka advertising on the wrappers. My conclusion on Target: Moon was that is had likely been issued in 1962 but that there was a possible date range of mid-1958 to mid-1963. I won't bore you with the details but you can read all about it here.

Thanks to a Target: Moon penny box proof being offered in the latest Legendary auction, another piece of the puzzle has been revealed.  This proof gives us a good look at the box bottom, which along with the indicia on many period wrappers, is often the best way to glean information about the peculiarities of certain sets.  The proof is magnificent:

I'll flip it around so you can read it but the red copyright strip on what would be the box bottom is a big clue as to possible time frame, as is the inclusion of a Blony "hint" on the back panel. The first thing to notice though is that the Bazooka gum tab shown states "Topps" and not "The Atom" on the red triangle portion, which confirms the mid 1958 or later date of issue.

Blony will be revisited in a minute but lets check out the copyright strip up close:

The address is our quarry here as it states Brooklyn 32, N.Y., which is proper since it should predate the use of ZIP codes which came into use on July 1, 1963. The colored bar of copyright, and manufacturing information first saw use by Topps in 1955 and stopped in 1963.  Here are some other box bottoms for comparison.  First 1957 Baseball:

An exact match (not always the case). Here is a 1962 Baseball Bucks box:

It's blurry but there is a "32" postal designation in the color bar.  By 1963 the color bar was gone as a new style was introduced but the "32" was still there, at least in the beginning of the year as this 1963 Baseball box shows:

1963's Beverly Hillbillies was similar to the above:

Not all issues follow these patterns.  There is a 1961 Baseball box with no color bar and no "32" and some 1964 Baseball boxes have no indicia on the bottom at all (possibly due to the ZIP code changeover) and to further confuse things a 1965 Outer Limits box still has the "32" plus a PO Box number as it identifies Topps alter-ego Bubbles, Inc. but I think you get my drift; the color bar disappears in 1963, so Target: Moon would have been issued before then.  The "32" slowly faded away and a Brooklyn, N.Y. address without it or a ZIP code followed.  Around the time of the move to Duryea in 1966 a 11232 ZIP code came into play until Brooklyn itself was banished in mid-1969 as Topps abandoned their roots for good.

Now what about that furshlugginer Blony ad? As we know, Topps acquired the brand when it bought Bowman in 1956.  I don't know when Blony ads featuring the "rainbow" bubble shown on the Target: Moon box started showing up in earnest once Topps redesigned that brand's wrapper so that's no help, although it was identified as a "twin" pack (2 pieces) in some 1957 product ads (the rainbow pack is not a twin pack I don't think). Blony continued on, spasmodically, into the 1970's but underwent another redesign in 1969.  

As of now, I am wavering on my 1962 estimated issue date for Target: Moon and hoping to develop a little more information on the Blony graphics to nail the date down better.  Jeff Shepherd has a huge amount of his collection featured in a new book about Bazooka Joe (go buy it-trust me) and he has some dating on Blony wrappers I want to think about and discuss with him. As always, readers thoughts are appreciated.

(UPDATE May 30, 2013: As usual, Shep comes through-the rainbow design on Blony was used in 1957-58  (when a major redesign occurred) while the "Topps" version of Bazooka replaced the "Atom" version in mid 1958.  So Target: Moon must have been a reissue of Space Cards a year after the original issue. This reissue was missed by the American Card Catalog compilers in the 1960 (and last) version of that guide.)

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