Saturday, November 15, 2014

Needful Things

Gonna span the decades today way of a sideways look at premium offers.

You remember of course the retailer premium certificates we have looked at a few times previously; some of the posts that are germane to this discussion can be found here, here and here. The gist was the more a retailer sold, the more he or she could accrue toward gifts, some of which were quite nice.

Well all those certificates had to be mailed somewhere and that somewhere was Topps HQ in Brooklyn (albeit until the early to mid 1950's it was via a PO Box). So what happened to each redemption once it hit Brooklyn?  Well thanks to a recent pickup of mine, it can be told.

Yes, Sy Berger himself (errrr, his secretary actually) would respond to you via form letter once your certificates were dispatched.  It's interesting that war stamps were still being discussed seven years or so after the end of the Big One. It also looks like inflation was rearing its head as well.

The supremacy of Bazooka is on display here; the original certificates lost their Topps Gum headings and changed over to Bazooka by the mid 50's although they flip-flopped sometimes before going over to Topps Chewing Gum later on, probably in the 1960's.

Here is a real early one, which lists Topps' original commercial address, although they used one of the Shorin family house addresses when they started up in 1938:

This certificate has no expiration date, a situation they would eliminate pretty early on in the process. The earliest expiration date I have seen is January 30, 1944. That one also had 60 Broadway as the address so the one above is quite early as its A 1624 registration number also attests. The main group of certificates switched to a format where the letter followed the numbers and was in place by the time the 1/30/44 expiry certificate was issued. The paper is of a type used in the securities field at the time so these certificates were considered to be as important as cash to Topps, almost like a bearer bond.

So anyhoo, the certificates had to be collated and once that happened a receipt was filled out and sent to the lucky recipient.

Can you imagine how much paperwork was involved in this operation?!?!

Even as late as 1970 there was a coterie of clerks keeping track as this internal Topps Teamates trading card shows:

I'm not sure when the program was halted (if indeed it has been) or switched over to some digital or online format but I have some certificates from the mid 1970's, although they were called Gift Certificates by then. They still had registration numbers on them and were validated by the Topps treasurer.  The security paper was long gone by then though.

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