Faithful Reader o'the Archive Jonathan Tomberg recently posted a comment on an old piece from about a year ago on the 1969 Topps Basketball Rulers. Certainly one of the more inspired Topps inserts of years past, the set is skip numbered thanks to Ruler #5, which seemingly (hold on) was to feature Bill Russell, being pulled. Jonathan asked if the artwork for the Russell had ever been seen and I'm happy to report the answer is a resounding yes.
The 1989 auction of original Topps art and production material by Guernsey's, which was both expository and maddening in its presentation, featured 23 line drawings of NBA players used to create the rulers. On the face that is 100% righteous as the set has 23 subjects. However, the offered lots of Rulers hid a surprise or four.
Two players in the set, Nate Thurmond and Hal Greer, were not among the lots offered in the 1989 auction. You may remember these two subject's line art was the centerpiece of my post from a year ago. Their origin is murky to me, as I cannot locate an auction where they were offered and they may even possibly have been part of the lots offered at Guernsey's as the event featured some items that never made the catalog.
So that means of the 23 subjects from the issued set, 21 should have been offered by Guernsey's plus the art for Russell to get to.....22. What?!
Well, that's a twist! Now look at this mysterious little bit of art that was among the 23 Guernsey's lots: