Saturday, March 16, 2024

We Pass The Savings On To You

Friend o'the Archive Mike Savage recently sent along some significant lists of specials from Woody Gelman's Card Collectors Company, issued but a mere fifty years (!) ago. There is some excellent information contained in these flyers about a brace of test issues which feature some of the toughest items Topps ever put out and show how CCC was used as as one of their conduits for unsalable overstock.

Today let's take a look at Specials of the Month list #4, which came riding along with a more traditional CCC catalog in this handily postmarked envelope:

I don't have a copy to show from my collection but that would have been Catalog #26 in there, dated January 15, 1974.  The list of specials is a wonder to behold:

In order, from the top we get a series of older insert and oddball sets being bled off, plus some excess from Woody's personal stock of tobacco cards.  The 1951 Red Backs were still being stocked, almost a quarter-century after their issue (and 1952 reissue)-impressive!  The tobacco cards were from the T205 and T206 sets and would have been alien to most of the CCC audience.  The 1959 Fleer Ted Williams set was not, as we have learned in the sixty-five years since it's issue, "very scarce" and in fact is quite common.  Even the elusive card #68, which was pulled over a rights issue with Topps involving the use of Bucky Harris's image, has been graded in abundance over at PSA, with 1,140 slabbed and counting.

1969 Super Baseball was a set that was held in some abundance by CCC and hopefully this list got people ordering it because about fifteen months later, their warehouse would be substantially consumed in a fire, with the set's population being disproportionately wrecked. Those sets purchased from CCC after the fire would often come with singed edges!  The 1968 and 1969 inserts were pure overstock and while it's not at all clear if the 1968 Baseball Game being offered was the boxed version, the "Batter Up" language suggests it could be. The 1964 Giant Baseball cards were massively overproduced as Topps issued them after the 1964 All-Star game to middling consumer interest.  Those 1970 Super Football cards, while not as common as the '64 Giants, seem like they suffered from a lack of interest as well.

This is all preamble though, as we get to the meat of the specials.

1973 Baseball Team Checklists? Those were the blue bordered ones that almost no one seems to recall getting in packs that year. Now, were they sourced loose or from the extremely scarce perforated mail-in premium sheet?

Next up, the 1973 Baseball Candy lids.  I find it hard to believe but I've never really posted about these, or the actual lids at least. While surviving quantities are pretty high for a true test issue (I suspect regional tests vs. the old, semi-mythical Brooklyn candy store tests for these), they are somewhat tough, especially in nice shape. The little lift-up tab is usually found creased and bent and then the images are often horribly off-center.  This one's not so bad actually:

Moving along, here you could have purchased the eight-card '53 Reprint "set" that Topps mysteriously produced in 1972, allegedly for a banquet or gathering of some sort. It's a bizarre set, with misidentifications and a bewildering assortment of players.  Here's a proof sheet of the eight subjects from this difficult issue:

The 1973 "Baseball Cloth Sticker Sets" are the cloth versions of the 1973/74 Action Emblems, an abortive Topps attempt to circumvent the licensing of team logos from MLBPC. These are not well-known and I'm not sure if PSA even grades them. They seem to suffer from the adhesive being somewhat melty and gooey if not stored properly over the years:

Toward the bottom we have two inexorably linked sets (due to a common player selection) from 1973, the uber-difficult Baseball Comics and Baseball Pin-Ups.  I think they are also linked in a way to the Action Emblems in that they feature no logos. Either way, they are a really superb looking set:

I'm not sure why but the Pin-Ups are a little more available and survive at almost exactly a 2:1 ratio compared to the Comics, but make no mistake they are also extremely hard to find:

Concluding today's look back in wonder, we have the 1972 Cloth Baseball Stickers.  I think the reference to 55 being in the set is a typo, no one has seen more than the 33 known subjects in full, all neatly doubled in full array on this uncut sheet that displays portions of both slits. Some very tantalizing slivers can be seen too but I can't say undamaged stickers exist for these edge riders:

These are roughly as prevalent as the 1973 Baseball Pin-Ups, although it's worth noting those truncated stickers at the top of the sheet do turn up in their slightly decapitated form, as do all the others to a lessening degree.  This seems to have been a materials test, which was continued in 1976 before Topps finally got the formula down for 1977.

Topps had a couple of other dealers who helped send this stuff out into the world, like Bill Haber, who was a Topps employee just like Gelman but preferred selling things directly at New York City area collectible shows, which were not exactly in abundance at the time.  You really needed some expert timing to take advantage and realistically, it wasn't the average ten-year-old buying up all the test issues.


Mark Pekrul said...

You mentioned that the 1973 uncut checklist sheet was perforated? I managed to nab one a few years ago and it doesn't have any perforations.

toppcat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
toppcat said...

There was a 1973 premium mail-in sheet offer that's quite scarce and virtually unknown-I am correcting though, not sure it was perforated, so appreciate the heads up!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of cloth stickers, what is the final say about the rarity of the 1977 cloth stickers set? In the 1980s, these were always promoted as rare and carried a premium price at the time. Are these still considered rare in any way, or was all of that just puffery of the times? Appreciate your insight.

toppcat said...

The 1977 Cloth set is common, the puzzle cards can be a little hard to find in nice shape but overall it's a typical mass-produced 1970's ancillary issue.

Mike Savage said...

Excellent write-up! I'm kicking myself for not buying anything off that Specials of the Month list but I was a kid with little money. I found the 1973 Baseball Candy lids that summer at the NJ shore but never in upstate NY. Unconcerned about future value, I removed the lift-up tabs to "clean them up" a bit. And the 1973 Teams checklist seemed plentiful in the packs I was buying that year too although I understand they were included in just one series.

Don Carson said...

At one time I had a large number of the 1973 Topps Team Checklists. I grew up in NE Ohio and we received all the cards in one series and for many years thought they were distributed that way everywhere. I recall there being a team checklist in every pack.

toppcat said...

Don Carson-were these wax packs and/or cellos?