Today we continue the saga of the 1970 Flags Of The World set. I've taken a couple peeks under the hood previously, with the most comprehensive look being made here back in 2017. Some new and frankly, puzzling, developments have recently occurred with research about the set and its related insert, which I've dubbed Money of the World, after the name given it by Topps on the test wrapper. Check it out:
Ignore that penciled numbering, a long time ago a dealer used this to store cards from what was likely the first test of the 1970 series. The best part about that is Friend o'the Archive Lonnie Cummins advises they were just reprinted 56's (or even actual 56's; no one can tell apparently, although he's trying)! Except for the splash panel hawking the insert for 1970, the wrapper art is from 1956 too. Said dealer could do this as the test pack was actually an envelope:
An envelope was needed as the 1956 cards were in the original Giant Size (one of the last to boot), too tall for what we now call a standard sized pack. The envelope test pack concept was seldom used by Topps; they only did it a handful of times from what I've seen, usually when non-standard size cards or inserts were in the mix.
The set as issued for retail consumption consisted of 82 stickers (yes, although they look more like cards): 77 Flags and 5 Dictionary "cards" made up the subject release. The Dictionary cards were stickers really stickers though, and each showed four phrases or words in English converted into phonetics approximating the featured language. All 82 stickers required moisture to be applied to allow them to stick, just like 1967's inaugural Wacky Packages set. We'll get to why the Dictionary stickers were called cards in a minute; here are two of them:
The original images sent to me by another Friend o'the Archive, Michael Branigan, and while those two are a bit oblique as snapped, you can easily see from the Japanese example that the factory cuts were often abysmal. I used these as exemplars since they show a key difference between the test and retail releases. This is the reverse of a regular issue sticker for Japanese, No. 3 of 5 in the sub-series and handily doing double duty as it shows why these were, in fact, stickers:
But look at the back of this card for Chinese:
Yes, it goes to eleven! Not only that, Chinese was sticker No. 4 of 5 in what now turns out to be its retail version, so clearly some rejiggering of the final sheet occurred. Thing is, I'm not sure why as 77 Flags and 11 Dictionary stickers would be a classic Topps 88 array, with three full sets printed across the 264 count press sheet.
Lonnie sent me some 66 sticker finished half-slit proofs shots from 1970 that may shed a little light. Here is the front:
Right away you can see the five Dictionary stickers are scattered throughout the array. Two more columns should get us to the 88 sticker impressions we need for 77 Flags plus 5 Dictionary stickers, with 6 stickers being extra prints. However, the reverse of the sheet muddies things considerably:
- United Nations
- United States