Saturday, August 1, 2020

Woody's Angels

Bonus content today kids, I fubar'ed the dating of this post!

I am sometimes surprised by various things that pop up concerning Topps and Woody Gelman but it's not often I am completely flabbergasted by them.  Well, friend o'the Archive Keith Olbermann has done it and then some.  It all lurks behind this cover:


I originally thought it was a "paperback" magazine but the staples indicate more of a digest-sized publication. A measurement I found on eBay seems to confirm this but, as always, the indicia tells us a lot, namely that this was distributed through three different paperback books clubs and through subscription:


About that "Collecting Baseball Cards" story....


Yup, it's Woody Gelman!  And pictured--probably in his basement-- very near the end of his life as this issue is from 1978 (he died on Feb. 9th that year). Here is some very basic information (it gets better, I promise) about Card Collectors Company:


I don't always like to show articles from old publications in full but am making an exception here as the next pages show items from Woody's personal collection, including the T206 Honus Wagner he displayed on To Tell The Truth three or four years earlier:


Next up we get a look at the inner sanctum of CCC, which I believe is Woody's garage in Malverne, New York (a stone's throw from Franklin Square, home of PO Box 293).  The roll in mailbags would seemingly indicate a ground-level operation as well:


I'm not positive but believe the woman at the upper left is his wife, Lillian. And the illustration at right looks like it could have been done by Art Spiegelman.  Love the mailbag and $180 check although it's probably not from a 12 year old; CCC was selling full Topps cases from years past when this magazine came out. From other research I am doing, if the photos were taken in 1977, $180 right then bought you 1,000 mint 1967 high numbers! And those library style file drawers were sold by CCC in their catalogs.  Like full vending cases of 12,000 cards, I suspect they got drop shipped from elsewhere given their weight and size.

Next, Woody's TV appearance gets some ink.  A nascent hobby and the referenced 1974 TV appearance probably led to this spread I'd imagine.


And that's it-the article itself is not too informative but how many pictures exist for the Card Collectors Company operation?! 

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut Roll...Sometimes You Don't

I managed to snag a tough Topps Candy piece off the 'bay recently and thought I'd show a little parade of their hybrid Brooklyn-Chattanooga wrappers that appeared following their purchase of Bennett-Hubbard in 1943. A smaller procession of penny gum tab variants made in Brooklyn will close things out today.

The latest addition to the Archives is this impossibly pristine candy wrapper.  It looks like a pretty yummy candy bar if you ask me.  Note the 1943 Copyright:


I've been trying to determine if the Opera Bar below was originally a Topps product. Newspaper reports at the time of the Bennett-Hubbard acquisition indicated Topps would continue producing "their" product in Chattanooga at their new plant. Tempering that is the fact I've never seen a reference to Topps producing candy prior to the purchase, although it's only a four year period or so and one that included some WW2 paper drives.

This is another wrapper in amazing shape, I think it and the one above came from a sample stack used by salesmen.  Once again, a 1943 Copyright, obviously obtained for package redesign purposes after Benn-Hubb was in the fold:


Marshmallow could stretch scarce sugar supplies, which were about to be rationed in the U.S. as the war raged on (and probably spurred the acquisition) as this next piece, which looks to have actually been wrapped around a candy bar, attests:


I don't really like the look of that wrapper (it's even uglier in person) but imagine the yellow was thought to be snazzy enough to grab a kid's attention. At a guess I'd say Topps didn't bother waiting for a new copyright for the wrapper meaning this was likely a new product sold during World War 2 whereas the Caramel Nut Roll and Opera Bar could and likely did continue in production for several years after 1943.  Topps would eventually re-brand their candy production operations as Topps Candy Division, until the early 1950's when they just snugged it under the main Topps Chewing Gum umbrella.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Topps bought out Shapiro Candy Manufacturing in 1944 which netted them not only a better sugar ration and more manufacturing capability, it also presented access to waterborne transportation via the 4th Street Basin, right across the avenue and which connected to the Gowanus Canal and eventually the Atlantic Ocean.  A mere three miles from Topps HQ at 134 Broadway in Williamsburg at the time of the purchase, it became an additional warehouse for Topps after they moved all executive and manufacturing functions into Bush Terminal in mid-1946.  It appears all the prior Topps plants and offices in Brooklyn served such a purpose until the 1966 Duryea move, when only the executives and office staff remained behind.

This is a rare 1939 Topps Gum tab wrapper with Shapiro shown as the manufacturer and would have barely outlasted the war as Topps went for a slight redesign and new copyrights in 1946:



I suspect Topps still manufactured this product at their original Gretsch Building plant location at 60 Broadway but named Shapiro as manufacturer to allow for expanded sugar ration compliance.  The normal 1939 wrapper looked like this-I imagine amending the indicia slightly was no reason to obtain a new copyright.:


That little notch at the top is what leads me back to the Gretsch Building!

There's a 1939 Topps/Brooklyn variety as well.  I'm not sure which came first and this is actually BFF o'the Archive Jeff Shepherd's as I don't have this variant yet:


That'll "wrap' things up for today (groan)!