Thursday, October 23, 2008

Orange You Glad To See Me?

After two major insert sets were unleashed in '61 and '62, Topps didn't produce a baseball stamp series in 1963, but they did produce stamps featuring 80 well-known Americans. The commonly accepted date of issue on these is 1963 but the year before is also possible.

The actual name of the product was Stamp Gum, but Famous Americans stuck in the minds of hobbyists (although they are sometimes referred to as Great Americans). Instead of the pink Bazooka America was accustomed to seeing, the gum was orange, likely dooming the stamps to oblivion as they are tough to find today. The stamps measure 1 3/8" x 2 9/16" and Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth are the sole baseball players depicted; some other sports figures are also included but this is considered a non-sports set.

Here is a shot of the Ruth (not mine)-note the horizontal crease where the stamp was folded to fit the pack. You can also see where it would detach from the "waste" area below. It seems like they could have been packaged without the fold if the waste area had been trimmed so it was likely there due to make insertion into the gum wrapper easier. Note the lack of Topps identification anywhere on the stamp, which makes me wonder if they were produced for another, aborted, project and then recycled for sale with Stamp Gum.

I do not have a corresponding Gehrig to post.

Prices on the ball players can border on the ridiculous, which is standard when boys of summer are part of otherwise non-sports Topps offerings that disappeared without a trace. It appears no album was issued with the set, which is odd but maybe the '61 and '62 baseball stamp albums did not sell well so Topps gave up on the idea. Here is a trade ad which shows a cascade of oranges down the front of the box.

Proofs have been found and some of the artwork used to create the stamps was auctioned on Ebay in 2007 I believe. If you ever see these, they are worth buying immediately due to their difficulty.

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