Strap in for adventure today kids-we are going to take a peek at Topps Wise Guy Buttons! Actually, we're going to look at three potential issues of the set, all in different sizes but first, some background.
The most well-known issue of this 24 button set hails from 1965. Two inches in diameter with a circular pinback, these are quite readily available and seem to have been a popular, confection-less issue attributable to that year. I'll get to pictures in a minute.
What's odd is that John Neuner's US Wrapper Guide, which was the Rosetta Stone for that type of stuff, listed a 1961 issue date for the set. Other references I saw referenced "large" six-inch pins with no specifics. So clearly something was up. Then to top it all off, I purchased a Wise Guy Button that was 3 3/4" in diameter somewhere in the middle of this whole mess that stumped a few people.
Well, I finally managed to get ahold of the large version, which is, in fact, 5 3/4" in diameter and scanned all three sizes together:
I regret the smallest one does not match the other two in subject but here's a scan I nipped from Todd Riley's Non-Sport site of the confirmed 1965 2" button:
Obviously the artwork on the small and medium buttons matches, or does it? I see slight differences but that's common enough with Topps. However, I have to say the medium one looks like it's a knockoff based upon the smudgy printing and unkerned spacing of the letters. But what of the large one? Its art is somewhat cruder and not all that much of a true match to the other two, especially due to a lack of color, although the medium looks a bit light on the fleshtone to me.
Here's the backs:
The large has a clasp pin that looks proper and Topps used paper backs on their Go-Go Button set that is (possibly not) from 1969. So the large pin could be legit but I reserve judgement and it may, in fact, be a circa 1960 Funny Button (a set that is lacking in details beyond a ten cent wrapper proof from what I can tell). The medium pin has a funky back and an actual safety pin inserted in the slot. I had thought that the original pin was replaced but I think it's just as likely the whole thing is bootlegged. The only sure bet is the two inch pin from 1965! All say Japan on them along their respective rims.
So I'll put to you dear readers-anybody out there know anything about the medium and large pins? What, if anything, was actually issued by Topps in 1961 and in what size?