Saturday, July 5, 2014

Transparent Apparent

Some sweet serendipity was at work recently as I managed to snag a series of photographic transparencies that apparently originated with Topps in the late 1950's and feature the irascible and recently deceased Don Zimmer.

The highlight of the lot was the transparency used to create his 1957 Topps card.  Here's the card, with a  typical '57 ragged cut no less:

And here is the corresponding transparency:

If you follow the white lines around the border you can see how the transparency was cropped for the issued card.  I assume those white lines are remnants of the production process.

The three other transparencies are also intriguing.  I can't help but feel I have seen this pose before, maybe on a Dodgers PC or something:

Next up is a great "action" shot: 

That is one fantastic Ebbets Field background, yowsa!  And last but not least,more Ebbets with a bit of a redshift:

All of these exhibit some signs of hand cutting and all but the transparency used for the 1957 card have black borders from the film stock.  The sizing varies quite a bit as the production transparency is a puny 1 9/16" x 2 1/4" while other portrait, without the borders, clocks in at 2 5/16" x 3 1/4". The redshifted transparency is the same size as the portrait, sans borders, while the fielding pose with Ebbets background is a whopping 4 3/4" x 3 15/16" (roughly, as the border is protruding on the sides). 

They all came in this envelope:

There are some bewildering notations on the envelope as there seem to three action poses but I can't swear what the original contents were while these were with Topps. Bob Lemke, from whom I won these on eBay, possessed these since the early 1980's and in fact on his blog has a few more things to say:

"The brown kraft file envelope in which the transparencies have been housed for decades has a number of penned and penciled notations. Besides his name and team there is written, "2 action" and "2 low fielding". Penciled notes read "Reshoot / '59" and "Used '58 / Int Ptg". Al least I think it says "Int Ptg". I have no idea what it means. Also penciled at the bottom-left of the envelope is "GUNTHER," which may be the name of the photographer."

Could "Int Ptg" mean interim or internal printing?  Perhaps that means one was used in a proof version or developmental phase before the LA Dodgers uniforms could be captured on film as Topps did not issue any inserts of ancillary sets in '58, which could also be what the abbreviation represents.  But really, who knows? The reshoot notation likely means newer photos were available in a different, newer envelope, deep in the vast recesses of the Topps filing system or, ahem, archives..

This is a really neat piece of Topps history and I am happy to be its caretaker for the forseeable future.

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