Saturday, September 10, 2016

Philadelphia Storied

I've recently been able to close a loop concerning the sale of Bowman Gum to Topps in early 1956. When I was researching the Modern Hobby Guide a few years ago, it was a surprise to me that Warren Bowman had left his namesake company in May 1951 to develop real estate in Florida. The Board of Directors ultimately changed the name of the company to Haelan Laboratories a year later and by the end of 1952 a local Philadelphia businessman named John Connelly was added to the board, likely because he provided capital to the company. Here is the face of the man who sold Bowman to Topps:

You can see the Haelan branding on the back of this 1952 Pee Wee Reese:

This was contracted and initialized to B.G.H.L.I. by 1953:

I've covered most of the story in my book and in a Wrapper article a while back but a lucky break put a thread about a 1948 Blony (Bowman's flagship bubble gum brand) shipping carton in front of me the other day over at Network 54's Vintage Non-Sports Forum and with a quick response from Mike White, who owns the carton in question, I was able to get a scan of the bottom:

My research had previously found Connelly had a stint as vice president and sales manager during World War 2 at Container Corporation of America (CCA) before starting Connelly Containers.  I had always wondered how he stumbled onto Bowman and the connection with CCA certainly seems to answer that question. Connelly ultimately used his haul from the Bowman sale to gain control of Crown Cork & Seal in 1957, which made cans and bottle caps and made him a very wealthy man. When he stepped down in 1989 the company was worth almost $2 Billion dollars. He passed away in 1990 but his charitable foundation lives on to this day.

I also was able to find an article from this past January in a magazine called Mid Atlantic Thoroughbred about the Connelly family horse farm in New Jersey (still there) that dug into his background a little more as I was googling CCA, so all in all it was a pretty fortunate turn of events

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