Friend o'the Archive Dave Schmidt sent along a picture of a 5th series Baseball cello from 1972 with graphics on the front that highlights the transition:
I was not aware of this variation pack and am advised these were only tested with 5th series cards and obviously no outer box housed them. The test must have been a good one as the 1973 Baseball cards followed suit:
But I was talking about football, wasn't I? The first Topps cello packs that I am aware of that had football cards came out in 1955 and featured the All-American set.
Topps used the cellos in '55 to help kill off Bowman, stuffing these ten cent packs full of as many as 22 cards! The Trading Card Guild boxing came with a topper (as did a number of TCG retail boxes I suspect):
1956 saw a similar approach but Bowman had been vanquished and you didn't get 22 cards anymore in what was the first Topps NFL set. Check out this amazing image from a past REA auction:
Cello Football issues continued into the standard card size era in '57 and I can't find any vintage FB cello's with graphics on them from 1957 onward. In fact, once you get to 1960 Topps seems like they almost abandoned gridiron cello issues. I could find no entries in the PSA pack pop report for 1962, 1964 or 1965, although Mark Murphy's unopened pack guide indicates they were issued in all years. A 1965 tall boy cello would be a thing to behold!
1967 though, brought us a 1967 Football rak pak, once again memorialized in an REA auction:
Topps often test drove things with Football before following suit with Baseball the following spring. For instance, pack inserts started in 1960 Football before they appeared in Baseball starting the following year.
There's definitely Football cello's in the 1966-69 years and then 1970 brought a nice, bright red box as Baseball test drove Football I guess! Mile High auctions had this bad boy a little while ago:
Topps already had reduced the card count from the 33 offered in 1970 Baseball cello's but the gum came onboard to soften the blow:
1971 brought a yellow box for Football, scans of which I found over at the quite wonderful Sports Collectors Daily:
The card count was excised on the reverse, foreshadowing the 1972 Baseball cello box:
1972 remains interesting as Topps used two cello pack varieties. One was plain and one wasn't. Here's a front and back from REA (again):
And here is a '72 cello with graphics:
These can be found in either flavor for the first two series. As for the infamous 3rd series, seemingly only distributed in wax to Stevens Point, Wisconsin, I don't think there are any cellos.
I'll end it here as it's quite homogenized from 1973 on as Topps had no competition and a bottom line to protect for its shareholders, resulting in a period of general blandness.