A couple of really neat original Topps production items showed up in the just concluded Lelands "2018 Invitational" Auction. As usual, I thought these were interesting enough to share.
Leading off, two working proofs of the 1969 Topps Baseball Player Posters provide some fascinating insight into the creation of the set:
There's a lot going on here. First off, these appear to be black process player photo proofs prepared on acetate, which was a common method used by Topps at the time.. Check out how creepy Glenn Beckert looks with those almost empty eyes (you can just see his pupils if you look carefully) on the Cubs pasteup! Here, I;ve separated the two posters to make it easier to see:
It looks like these were created very early on, as Topps "built up" they layers needed to print the actual posters. You can see where they even added some ersatz player autographs as placeholders showing where the signature should appear for each player. They just used a squiggly line until they had an actual autograph to use I guess. Fergie Jenkins had a hybrid sig going on!
You can clearly see elements of paste on letters and what looks like crayon, but is actually acrylic paint and colored pencil) in these as the layouts were made. Now check out this Red Sox closeup:
The team banner is out of sync and corrections are clearly needed. Here's a couple of them, the first in Woody Gelman's own hand:
That note says "fix chin over banner" and sure enough they did on the finished product as it looks like Ray Culp is about to be guillotined:
Woody must have really wanted that chin to pop as the instruction he wrote across the top of the layout also drew "Lou's" attention to it:
The notes across the bottom are not in Woody's hand, maybe they belong to Lou; they merely indictatethe colors should be brought out to the borders in any event. The attention to detail for a poster intended to be printed on cheap pulp stock is impressive. Here's how it looked in 1969 when you pulled it out of the pack:
Here's the finished Cubs poster: