Monday, September 28, 2009

Melting Away-Redfaced on Red Backs

Back in July I posted a long dissertation on the 1951 Baseball Candy issues, which was a universe for all of the 1951 Topps baseball cards. That post in turn was based upon a number of Net54 threads (see the older post for links) and some articles, old and new, in the various hobby publications. While the material concerning the cards themselves was precise, I've had more time to ponder the timeline of distribution which I now believe requires substantial tinkering.

The upside to this reconsideration is I have unearthed an old SCD column that discusses the big Red Back find and it helps pin down that the 100-box-or-so hoard of Red Back Doubles discovered in the early 80's was found in a Philadelphia warehouse. This certainly helps nail down that some, if not all, production of the 1951 cards was undertaken in the Philly area. The big problem with my original post was the timeline on issuance of the penny packs, both the Baseball Candy and Doubles versions and what exactly was contained in those packs.

Further research here at the Archive reveals that the Doubles packs likely came after the Baseball Candy packs. The key is in the caramel that was included with the cards originally.

My long post theorized that this pack held two Blue Backs plus loose candy but I now believe it held a single card and a wrapped piece of caramel. Following the logic that the cards stopped being retailed due to rancid caramel and after contemplating a few comments on various hobby forums over the lack of stained survivors, it certainly seems like the penny Baseball Candy packs were issued this way.

The other bit of information, also from the hobby boards, is that the Red Back hoard found in the early 80's had snow white-backed cards within the Doubles packs. As we know from the previous post, the snow white-backed Reds and Blues were likely printed around the same time and coincide with the second printing of Red Backs, which probably occured in late June of 1951. I think it is safe to say the caramel really did turn bad and it halted Baseball Candy production mid run.

So considering all this then, the Doubles packs had to have come last with an extra card substituted for the removed caramel.

It was obvious before that these did not contain candy but I missed that completely the first time around.

Further theorizing leads me to believe the Blue Backs were first printed for the Baseball Candy penny packs and were to have been followed by the second-run Red Backs into those packs. Why? Well, since panels of two had to be separated into singles for insertion into said packs, the Blues were likely just starting to be packaged and the Reds had probably been separated and awaiting insertion by this time. Otherwise, why not just fold panels in half at the perforations and insert into the Doubles packs? Then the third run of Red Backs (cream backs) just followed suit as the only packaging available was the Doubles packs.

I also have seen some cream backed Connie Macks now, which had not been confirmed when the original post was made over the summer. This too was a key finding regarding timing of production.

So, what does the reconfigured time line look like now?

1) Five cent Baseball Candy packs, with Red Back panels and Connie Mack All Stars, all with cream backs. This is based upon the promo shown in the original post. I think Topps would have focused on nickel pack production first as these were more profitable and sold in the big league cities.

2) Five cent Baseball Candy packs, with Blue Back panels, Major League All Stars and undated Team cards, all of which have white backs. There is then a contractual problem with the three short Printed ML All Stars and production halts on those, if not the entire ML Al Stars set.

3) Stellar sales prompt second Red Back Printing, this time they are mixed with undated Team cards (and probably Connie Macks, which were printed along with the Team Cards) and caramel. All of the cards would have white backs and been sold in nickel Baseball Candy packs.

4a) One Cent Baseball Candy packs, with a Blue Back and wrapped caramel within. This was very short-lived and possibly was when production halted on the rest of the entwined Baseball Candy packs due to caramel and/or contractual problems. It is likely Red Backs were also to be sold in penny Baseball Candy packs but this does not appear to have happened. These Red Backs are held back and are likely white-backed.

4b) A third printing of Red Backs, cream-backed, with dated team cards and either with or without Connie Macks (but likely with) is sold in Baseball Candy packs,cream backs all. Production halted as well at some point in this run. This may support the theory that cards were printed in two locations as the white backs seem to be centered in Philadelphia. Also, did Topps date the team cards to try and avoid a suit from Bowman on players they depicted? Bowman must have had rights to the contested players covering only 1951 then. This too could have led to the end of the Baseball Candy issues since the ML All Stars and Team card sets were now crippled. Another possible run of Connie Macks and Dated Team cards, with tannish cardboard backs, is also halted.

5) Blue Backs get inserted in to Doubles packs. The rest of the run is sold through this way.

6a)) With a mess on their hands, Topps now has way too many Red Backs. White-backed Reds go into Doubles packs, many of which end up in the Philly warehouse, lying in wait for some lucky dealer many moons later.

6b) Cream backed third-run Red Back panels are packaged in the red ten cent Trading Card Guild cello packs for holiday sales in late 1951.

7) The bagged sets with cream, third run Red Backs and tan Connie Macks and dated Team cards are sold once 1952 rolls around, avoiding the 1951 contract issue with Bowman. Anything and everything could have been sold in these bags to get rid of excess stock, with only one or two surviving examples rendering further analysis of the contents moot. Very possibly these were repackaged by someone other than Topps, so the entire balance of 1951 inventory, excepting the three rare ML All Stars may have been purchased by one party.

Of course, that's just my opinion-I could be wrong. If anyone has further ideas, please let me know.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Two Man Advantage

Topps tried for seven years before they were able to issue a cloth sticker baseball set. The 1970 materials test was discussed here a while back and I will shortly post on the more readily available 1972's but there was also a tiny test in 1976 that mirrored and then expanded upon the materials experiment six years prior.

Only two players comprise the checklist in 1976, Bob Apodaca and his former Mets teammate Duffy Dyer (I will refrain from using our childhood nickname for ol' Duff but you can imagine what we did to his last name). In addition, four different types of materials were tested in '77, ranging from thin to thick cloth and veering into the realm of felt and ersatz silk, the latter of which ended up being very close to the material used for the well known 1977 issue (also unblogged upon at present). Here are the two players in uncut "silk" form:

It is a bit strange the cards were oriented upside down in relation to each other as I once held in my hands an uncut vertical strip of the felt Dyer cards that were all oriented the same way; Topps normally did the upside-down trick when full bleed borders made it convenient (1953 and '54 Baseball are prime examples of this) but these borders are white. I also handcut a Dyer from said strip but alas I cannot find among the flotsam and jetsam here at Archives HQ. The felt was sheer though and I doubt ever had a backing attached.

Speaking of backings, the uncut strip has the typical brown Topps backing used in the 60's and well into the 70's:

Despite the wrinkling this strip is still pretty well integrated.

The 77's of course had a white backing with printing but I'll show that in the '77 Cloth Sticker post I am working on (don't worry, through the magic of labels you can view them all together eventually).

Here is a scan from a mis-remembered source showing all four types of material tested:

Just so he doesn't feel lonely, here are three types of Dyer's, from an Ebay auction I unfortunately lost a while back:

Apodaca seems in shorter supply generally than Dyer but there is a fairly good amount of these out there, unlike the situation about twenty years ago when they were pretty hard to find.

I can't recall another tested product that took longer to materialize in the marketplace than the baseball stickers. Seven years time to do so must have meant Topps had technical difficulties with the cloth material, which I will adress in more detail when I get to the 72's.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

No Teen Idle

One of the pitfalls of collecting and researching a specific Topps era is that you have to consider everything. It was ineveitable then, that the conversation would roll around to one of the Tiger Beat set here at the Archive.

I'll not delve into the murky depths of Bobby's fame but merely will focus on his Topps cards tonight. For some odd reason, possibly linked to teen dream fadeout, none of the three card sets Topps produced in 1971 featuring Mr. Sherman ever saw proper issue.

The most well known set featured pink borders, groovy graphics and some puzzle backs. I bought this card for my wife a few holiday seasons ago and it was about the best thing I ever gave her:

Yes, that card has a prominent place on the desk of Mrs. Archives.....

The back was also pure Bobby:

It's hard to read but there were 55 cards in the set, which is technically called Getting Together With Bobby Sherman (his short lived ABC show was called Getting Together, sadly verified by my very eyes as my sister commandered the old black-and-white Zenith every Saturday night lo these 38 years ago).

Apparently only test issued, perhaps a dozen full sets exist. It is alleged extant singles were issued in a rather lumpy format, making it impossible to complete a set at this juncture with examples still free in the wild. Perhaps, perhaps not but these are not all that easy to track down.

Lesser known are two other sets of Bobby, likely issued in 1971 despite a 1970 copyright.

A test set commonly referred to as Bobby Sherman Plaks is known within the hobby and features black and white shots, rounded corners and a facsimile autograph in the same format as the big Super cards Topps was big on in 1970-71. Like the '70 Football Supers there were 35 Plaks available, with fonts on the backs of some cards similar to other Topps thick slabs. These are harder to find than the pink bordered cards. Here's a back; fronts are available for your viewing pleasure here.

(From The Sport Americana Price Guide to the Non Sports Cards Number 4, by Chris Benjamin, Edgewater Book Co, 1992)

The above card would have had a blue hued, grainy B&W front. There is a catch though, as there is also a post card back for these, featuring fronts that are of a better quality and more traditionally contrasted B&W photography, indicating perhaps a simultaneous issue or even a licensing problem that killed the Bobby sets. Numbering varies as well between the two types.

(From The Sport Americana Price Guide to the Non Sports Cards Number 4, by Chris Benjamin, Edgewater Book Co, 1992)

Scarcer still are the inserts to the Plaks set, the Kiss Bobby set. Fifteen in total, plus a "Kiss Print" card, the plan was to make them moisture activated by a (hopefully) girl's kiss, leaving a red "lip print" on a B&W picture of Bobby. It's almost a certainty the "Kiss Print" card was extra printed.
The idea was to collect the kisses of all your friends.

Bobby Sherman went on to a post TV career in law enforcement and was a sheriff in San Bernardino for many years, thankfully eliminating the need for a Behind The Music type expose 25 years after the fact.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


My two months long series of short posts continues as I mine the data on my hard drive. I have never seen this particular picture but have known of it for years. Roogie's Bump was released in 1954 and features a number of Brooklyn Dodgers in the film.

Bazooka got in on the fun with this inner wrap:

I think the Brooklyn Dodgers connection makes this an interesting piece of bubblegumiana, don't you? There is also a Bazooka Joe connection as Topps was starting to market their new mascot and his gang. Neat-o!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Transfers Twice Twixt Tattoos

Well, another Ebay auction featuring a purported Topps Tattoo pixel test has ended. This time we can identify Sandy Koufax and Orlando Cepeda plus there is a mystery player who looks a lot like Joe Morgan.

This one went for a lot more than the last one. If it's supposed to be a 64 Tattoo test, then Sandy should look like this:

I don't think it's a match, do you? I also don't know why Joe Morgan would be among the other two august tattoos at this time. He really didn't gain traction until 1966 in Topps insert sets, appearing in the Ruboffs that year albeit in a different pose. I'd really like to see some provenance on these pixel tests, otherwise they just could be red herrings.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Broadway Memories

There is a period of time concerning Brooklyn that has romance and nostalgia attached to it. It runs roughly from the Depression to the 50's and definitively ends the day the Dodgers moved to LA but it was sullied before that by Robert Moses and the demise of the Eagle. It has turned the Borough of Churches into a landscape of the imagination. It is within this millieu that Topps operated their business for their first two decades.

Friend O'the Archive Jeff Shepherd sent some shots along last year showing two old Brooklyn address of Topps, before they moved to Bush Terminal. Here's a bit of history as well on the facility.

Here's a shot of 60 Broadway, which housed early offices of the brothers Shorin; the gum and wrappers and all the other goodies were likely produced off premises with ample third party assistance at this time.

Gretsch Guitars were also headquartered here for many years and the building had their name.

Another possible address for the company (it may have been a maildrop) was 134 Broadway, just down the street from the Gretsch Building.

I can't decide if this would have been a step down for the Company, provided they even occupied offices there. Before the cards, there was Broadway! (Note 1/4/17-this is actually 138 Broadway, you can see a sliver of 134 to the right.  Sorry!)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Valid Transfers Only

This could be a red herring post folks. I happened across this bad boy on Ebay last week:

The lot description went on about how it was a Topps tattoo "pixel test" and it clearly has a 60's vibe to it but I have never seen another and don't know what to make of this example. Anyone out there know for sure?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sy Young

I was all set to post about something else when I got my latest Ebay purchase in the mail and made a serendipitous discovery on a card a scant half a decade in age. What, you say?

Well I really do not collect anything beyond the 1970's with very few exceptions but have always wanted a card of Topps mainstay and one of several fathers of the modern baseball card (I would include Woody Gelman of Topps and also Warren Bowman and George Moll of Bowman in that august group as well) that worked at Bush Terminal back in the golden days.

So I BIN'ed a 2004 Fan Favorite card of Sy Berger:

and then noted the back revealed that 62 years ago, Sy Berger started working for Topps:

Yes there are other Sy Berger cards out there, including one in the 1964 Topps Banquet set (as yet unblogged about here) but on the first day of September 62 years hence, I thought it would be nice to simply post a small tribute to Mr. Berger, no matter how new the cardboard involved turned out to be. So here's to you Sy!