A brief recap is in order first. Topps used somewhere between 33 and 66 subjects to run off what I estimate to be between two and four examples of a second series proof sheet (66 subjects proofed) in a cloth sticker format, usually with backing, likely as a materials test. Some subjects are only known as "partials" where just a portion of the sticker survived and there is at least one where it doesn't look like a backing could have been applied. They would repeat this process in 1972 (33 hard to find stickers that were never released) and 1976 (2 subjects, 4 different materials, in-house only) baseball subjects before they formally issued a 55 subject cloth sticker set in 1977. While baseball was the experimental category, the tests may have also assisted with things like Flags Of The World (1970 saw a test issue with cloth stickers) and Wacky Packages Cloth Stickers (1973), not to mention the 1973-74 Baseball Action Emblems and sticker inserts in various sports sets of time that used similar material.
I'm not sure how the 1970 Cloth Baseball Stickers first entered the hobby pipeline but it's probable they exited the Topps premises in Brooklyn via the Bill Haber and Woody Gelman backdoor not long after they were made, as a July 1972 Fred McKie article in The Trader Speaks states "I understand that there are at least 66 in the set."
Stirling Sports Catalog, a price guide and reference that predates the Sport-Americana's by a couple of years, describes 66 subjects being known. Those are the only references I can find with a count that high and there's been no evidence since to substantiate anything near that number. It is, however, theoretically possible based upon the uncut sheet array.
Twenty two of them were offered in a Card Collectors Company ad in the September 1979 issue of The Trader Speaks. As we all know, numbers divisible by 11 are pretty normal fare for Topps issues due to this being their default row length on the production sheets but this time it may be an accident as the left and right columns of cards have not yet been seen as full stickers. This ad was the culmination of about a 16 month run where Card Collectors Co. and a couple of other sellers uncapped a string of Topps test and proof issues through TTS (and likely other hobby pubs of the time as well), a gusher of issues likely due to the death of CCC founder and all-around Topps MVP Woody Gelman on February 9, 1978.
What I can tell you is 30 subjects are presently known., 27 full and 3 partial and another (#262 Padres Rookies) is strongly suggested to exist as a full sticker due to the real estate used to carve out the stickers. The below list details these 30 known subjects and identifies the twenty two offered by Card Collectors Co in '79. The Heritage examples are all in this grouping as well, although they may not be the same ones as two examples of some are known. "VAR." means the sticker image differs from the regularly issued card image. However, as you can plainly see above the Fred McKie TTS article stated he owned a Higgins and that it matched the issued card. I'm not sure what to make of that statement and have to presume it's a mistake unless a variant sticker of Higgins shows up that matches the regular issue.
This is the known checklist as of December 2018
|200||AL PLAYOFF #2||ORIOLES|
|TTS||146||MURPHY, DANNY||WHITE SOX|
|195||NL PLAYOFF #1||METS|
|197||NL PLAYOFF #3||METS|
|144||CULP (PART.)||RED SOX|
|252||PALMER, LLOYD (PART.)||PHILLIES|
(UPDATE 12/2/18: Nye is now shown with the Cards, he was inferred to be with the Cubs in the original post. Topps managed a team change although he's shown in Cubs duds on the proof and sticker. More info coming in on this set, an update post will be made).
That's 28 full stickers if you factor the Padres Rookies in, a figure noted previously here as being the possible limit of full stickers. In addition to the three partials shown above five others may exist, again based upon how the proof sheet was setup:
That's 36 potentially. If you look at the way the full stickers were proofed, it's clear the two left-most and right-most columns of the sheet contain all the partials. If you then take the remaining possible subjects from the four known rows the stickers copied from the proof sheet, you also can see how the following eight subjects could be extant, one way or the other:
|201||AL PLAYOFF #3||ORIOLES|
That gets us to 44 actual and potential subjects, in whole or in part, or the four bottom-most rows of the sheet. My take is that is the figure to use when contemplating what proofs were stickerized.
Whew! OK then, here's some scans from the auction-these all went for a small fortune: from $3,120 all the way up to $9,000 for the Ryan! I guess a couple of examples below are "almost" full sized and a few seem to fit together-you can see how the McNertney fit above the Niekro due to miscuts. Enjoy!
What does the "VAR." mean on the Higgins and Lemaster listings?
VAR means the sticker image differs from the regularly issued card image (Nye is inferred as I've not seen it and may just have a team change). I've updated the post to be more specific, thanks for pointing that out.
I own the McCovey....it's been in my collection since the 80's, when I bought it at a Bob Lee show.
I'm a native San Franciscan and long-time McCovey collector....don't have any photos handy, since the card is in my safe deposit box.
Matt Warburg (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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