Saturday, October 15, 2022

Full Sleeve Tattoos

Look around any concert stage or pro football field these days and you're likely to see one, if not more, players with a full arm sleeve of Tattoos.  It's old hat now but Topps had nearly everybody beat when it came to tattoo sleeves.  Of course, I'm not talking about ink but rather penny Tattoo sleeves, which were used by Topps when shipping certain items.

Friend o'the  Archive Lonnie Cummins alerted me to several of these recently, in turn based upon information from Eric Roberts over at the Vintage Non-Sports forum. Warning:  that is a tattoo rabbit hole if you click over! These two sleeves were used to protect the inner box of  "New Series" Popeye and Woody Woodpecker tattoos, both hailing from 1959:

There is some bottom indicia on the sleeves but I can't make it out!:

Popeye was the first major cartoon series to be syndicated for TV (in 1956) and the "New Series" was the middle issue of a three set run of tattoos from Topps that commenced in 1957 and by 1960 was the most popular syndicated show in the US. Woody Woodpecker was syndicated two years later and Topps managed this lone issue, with a later one put out by Fleer.

It's not 100% clear as to why the sleeves were used but they somewhat matched the boxes.  Popeye seems to be lacking the additional indicia found on the sleeve and I'm guessing it just has the information for Canadian release.

On the other hand this was the Topps file copy of the box:

I don't know what's on the bottom of a Woody Woodpecker retail box as I don't believe one has been seen in the hobby, at least that I am aware of, and if it's lacking the corresponding Canadian portion of the indicia, it likely was only retailed in the US.  A negative of the Woody box cover exists though:

Woody Woodpecker was popular but not nearly to the extent of Popeye. So were these a 2-1 deal, packaged separately, overstock?  I am not certain at all but they are pretty neat.  

Lonnie is chronicling all the various Topps tattoo issues from the vintage era and is making tremendous inroads in checklisting them. It's a painstaking task as almost none have captions and Topps repeated some designs across myriad sets. I wrestled the 1960 Football Tattoo checklist into submission once and it was a nightmare, even with a large chunk of the subjects already known.  Lonnie's tackling over a dozen-yikes!

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