Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pennant Feverish-Part 1

Hey ho buccos! A little bit of serendipity has occurred between my last post and now that makes today's discussion of the 1959 Topps premium baseball pennants more widespread than planned.

The first bit of good news is that Friend o'the Archive Doug Goodman sent along scans of each of the 16 pennants. He also sent along all but one of the 1958 Felt Emblems as well so there will be a catch up thread on those soon. If anyone has a scan on the 1958 Cardinals emblem, please send it along as I can do a full visual checklist once it is in hand.

The Pennants are quite large, measuring about 15" x 5" and they were available via a paper insert in the regular baseball packs in '59:

I had to nick that from Jon's Fleer Sticker blog by the way. That tear to the left of the Orioles pennant seems somewhat common; I have seen other examples with similar damage in or near that spot. Paper inserts unfortunately were not designed for a long life!

The pennants are clearly marked as a Bazooka product:

Here is the Pirates version from a Huggins & Scott auction awhile back:

I am showing this because there is another pennant set, attributed to 1968 but without any markings tying it to Bazooka. Here is what I think is a Bazooka Pirates pennant from '68:

Same exact pennant except for the wording in the black bar! Our friends in Duryea also created new artwork for the four expansion teams that were born in 1961/62:

Same look, same lack of wording in the bar at left. Some non-expansion teams had logo and style changes between 1959 and 1968 that Topps picked up on but but some did not. Compare this '59 Dodgers pennant:

With this (alleged) '68:


Getting back to Pittsburgh, what does this mean in relation to the pennant with a 1968 Topps 3D card of Roberto Clemente discussed here back in May? Once again turning to Chris Creamer's site, we find that the Pirate logo on the '59 and (alleged) '68 pennants was discontinued after 1959 when they switched to the logo used on the oddball Clemente pennant:

Curioser and curioser.....

Bazooka penants actually go back to the late 1940's and were a prominent premium on the 1952 Topps packs. A closer look at the historical background will happen next time out folks. Here is a 59 teaser though before we go:

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Back in February I posted on the 1958 Felt Emblems Insert card that came inside the nickel baseball packs and also discussed an antecedent from 1956 . At the time I did not have a scan handy of either emblem proper but intrepid reader Shane has come through with one depicting the Cardinals from '56:

These are often called Bazooka Joe emblems as they were advertised as premiums on Bazooka comics. While these are considered to be from '56, dates around that are also possible. It may be easier to think of them as pre-1958 MLB West Coast expansion era premiums.

Beware of newer, albeit legit, retro Topps emblems that were produced around 2007. The latter version will have a TM indicator following the team name:

I am not up on the Heritage inserts but it looks like Topps commemorated the 1958 style Heritage cards with a reprint of the 1956 emblems and not the 58's. These were box topper "instant" premiums and came in an envelope reminiscent of the ones used to mail the originals:

A lot of the 2007 versions show up on Ebay, so watch out.

The 1958 Emblem looked like this:

I had to lift that from the Old Cardboard website (sorry Lyman and Brett!). Both versions of the original felt (fleece?) emblems are about five inches in diameter. Only two colors are used on these as well one of which is sometimes white. Sixteen teams were issued each year; I would love to find some scans of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants from '56 but these do not pop up all that often.

The year of issue is usually ascribed to 1958 but like the earlier version, they may have spanned a couple more seasons.

There is another mid 50's emblem issue that is not a Topps product and apparently came from inside Post cereal boxes. You can see the difference clearly as they are stickers and not felts:

I do not know why one team is missing from the offer. My guess as to issue date on these is 1958-60. (UPDATE 7/25/10: They are from 1955, per Fleerfan's comments. He has blogged on them here. It turns out the Athletics are the missing team. They were moving to KC from Philly in '55 so maybe the logo was unavailable.)

Any additional details on the cereal box inserts or Topps emblems would be appreciated. I'll be taking a look at the larger Topps and Bazooka pennant premiums next time out, which are wider ranging by far than the circular emblems.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sunset Strips

Back at it today kiddies, as we finish our look at Topps Salesman's Samples (for now) before your webmaster takes off for some R and R.

For the first time in four years Topps went with horizontal cards for their 1960 baseball set and also mixed it up with the sample for the last pre-expansion year:

No corresponding back scan yet but as advised previously, I'll do a catch up thread with all the missing samples at some point.

1961 brought a return to the familiar:

Not only do the 61's look great, they celebrate the year of you blogmaster's birth!

Whitey Ford and Ken Boyer make an appearance as the representatives of the Stamp inserts on the reverse and presaging his assault on the record book, we get a Maris back perhaps in homage to his 1960 AL MVP award. I am not sure if other players are shown on different stamps on other samples nor if the small Magic Rub Off set was shown later on down the line and further investigation is in order:

1962 shows clear signs of the expansion era with a capless Gil Hodges (went to the Mets from the Dodgers) and a logoless Minnie Minoso (joined the Cardinals for a brief stint after playing for the Pale Hose the year before):

More stamps, albeit trimmed, on the back, plus the incredible Mr. Maris again. Jim O'Toole and Jim Gentile seem like odd choices for representing the stamp insert in '62 but both had big years in 1961, especially Gentile:

1963 brings some stability to MLB and presumably Topps. I love strips where full bleed borders just keep going and going and going...

Stan the man adorns the reverse but oddly there is no mention of the Peel Off inserts in 1963:

The immortal Stan Williams gets card back honors for some reason.

Sorry for the '64 scans, my graphics-editing skills are minimal:

The reverse is weird as we get some generic coins up top just when Topps should be moving toward realism. Still, you get a Mantle back and a mention of the coin inserts:

1965 shows Topps last Brooklyn set:

The reverse gets a little colorful and shows an Embossed insert. I can't make out who it is but then again, you can;t make out who's who on the insert either!

1966 would be the start of the Duryea era. Koufax and Mossi are really the yin and yang of 60's pitchers, aren't they?

Things are getting real interesting on the reverse in '66. With a color shoot of a Koufax decal insert:

The '66 pack graphic is also given prominence in the first year where penny packs were not available. Check it out:

Topps ended the traditional salesman's sample strips in 1967 but I don't have scans yet, sorry!

Once again thanks to Anthony Nex for the scans; any technical difficulties are of my own doing not his. Off to Florida for some sun and surf - see you all in a couple of weeks!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sales Force

Just a little detour before we get to the 60's Topps Salesman's Samples as intrepid reader Brad sent along a couple of righteous scans regarding Bowman's sales tools prior to 1954.

First up is an old auction catalog scan of an 8 card 1950 Bowman panel with an accompanying letter used by its salesmen. While the backs cannot be discerned, I would suspect the panel is cut from a production sheet and does not display any sales copy for reasons I will get into below:

The letter is addressed to the jobbers who acted as middlemen in the sales chain. The panel consists of:

3 Dom Dimaggio, 4 Gus Zernial
12 Joe Page, 13 Ferris Fain
21 Pee Wee Reese, 22 Jackie Robinson
30 Eddie Waitkus, 31 Del Ennis

The layout suggests a 36 card sheet arrayed 9 x 4 and I believe that is how Bowman printed these almost square cards, although as part of a larger sheet.

The street address was 4865 Stenton Avenue. It's pretty much abandoned now:

View Larger Map

Next is a 1952 panel and letter:

The letter has added the "Uncle Bob" tagline and includes the famous 5 star Bowman logo-nice! Uncle Bob was their Berry Crocker but he looked like Fred Mertz and made some appearances in a Bowman Collectors Newsletter that, while ahead of its time, was quite, shall we say, whitebread. I'll round a few newsletter scans up one of these days. I am aware of two issues but the 1952 connection is a couple of years past when I thought they issued the publication so they may have based an ad campaign around ol' Bob.

The cards on the panel are:

43 Bob Feller, 44 Roy Campanella, 45 Johnny Pesky
52 Phil Rizzuto, 53 Richie Ashburn, 54 Billy Pierce

Not a bad selection-four hall-of-famers and two others who were pretty close.

Once again Bowman used a 9x4 array for 36 card sheets (perhaps as many as three of the 36 card sheets would have been on a larger master sheet). We can surmise there were similar sales tactics used in 1951 and surely in 1953 as well. 1948 and '49? We'll see what turns up.

Since Bowman is officially part of Topps, the blog, as I opined recently, will reflect this going forward and we'll look at uncut Bowman sheets in more detail someday. We will be digging back to Gum, Inc. as well then and maybe some pre-war uncut sheets will turn up but next time out the 60's Topps Salesman's Samples will be discussed.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Strip Showstopper

Last time out (yesterday, actually) we explored the world of Bowman's salesman's sample strips and promised a peek at Topps own strip show. Well we're off!

Topps had salesman's sample strips produced for the 1952 baseball cards and so predated Bowman by at least two years. I am not aware of any earlier strips but it is possible they could have produced some, especially for 1951; maybe one will show up someday. The 52 strips look exactly as you would expect:

Those are numbered: #41, 42 and 43 which fits the known pattern of how Topps consecutively printed the 52's, row by row. The back touts the Giant Size theme that was starting "Taps" for Bowman.

Boy a box of those would be sweet!

The '53 strip adorning the header of this blog is not a sample, merely a remnant. No scan as of yet (I will do a catch up thread when I get ahold of scans for all the missing years).

There is a nice sea of white on this one from'54:

More of a mashup now as left to right we have #'s 24, 45 and 33.

The back is getting to look like the "classic" samples, which have one facsimile back and some advertising but this one is transitional. Check out the truncated reverse of the middle card and note the flip flop, which is odd given that doubled rows of similar colors were how the 54's were arrayed.

By the way, the backs on the samples often did not match the card fronts. Sometimes a random back was used repeatedly.

1955 brings us a vertical strip:

Nice but the real eye-opener is on the back:

Yes, that is a 1955 Doubleheader card affixed! Here, we have a better orientation and an opened DH:

You can see the ad mentions the Double Headers in this blow up:

I guess calling the DH's a gimmick seemed like a good idea at the time! It seems like there is no hope of ever finding a 5 cent Doubleheaders pack; they appear to be solely a penny item to be sold alongside the regular issue.

No '56 scan today kids, so we move on to 1957:

The strip is horizontal but the back is vertical:

That is the "classic" look I referred to earlier. I can't quite make out the middle part as the scan is blurry but the middle would be used to good effect shortly.

No 58's either today I am afraid but we can close out the decade with a '59 strip:

Aside from having the fabulously monikered Gene Green on a pink card (?!), the back adds a new wrinkle:

That is the address of a grocery wholesale in Chicago added to the mix in the middle. I suspect Topps started personalizing samples for their wholesalers to hand out as order reminders while having their own samples going to the wholesaler (or jobber if my understanding of the nomenclature is correct). I think the 1959 sample is really sharp and like how the card back is so green. The premium offer reference is just icing on the cake.

Look for a look at the 1960's samples next time. Thanks to Anthony Nex (again) and Don Johnson (1959 collector supreme) for all the great scans!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Do Blondes Have More Fun?

I have been playing around with ideas to expand the scope of the blog a little bit; nothing crazy just a little bit of contextual history here and a look at TCG's forebears there. The easiest way to feed this urge right now is to add a little more Bowman to the mix, which will in turn lead back to Gum, Inc. right at the start of FDR's administration.

I have been looking at three card strips of cards and salesman's samples of late and have discovered a couple of neat Bowman items out there, courtesy of Anthony Nex, who graciously let me lift about a bazillion scans.

The first known Bowman Baseball saleman's samples are from 1954; sadly there are none known from the classic 1953 color set. The 54's sample is arrayed 2 x 2:

There is another mix of players known and it would not surprise me one bit if quite a few more are out there. The back is neatly arranged:

1955 was the year of Bowman's Color TV cards and we get the classic 3 card variety now:

Unlike the 54's, the back does not even have a true facsimile of a 55 reverse:

They were really counting on the TV tie in. I wonder if they advertised on the boob tube? With Warren J. Bowman's history I would not be surprised, although the budget may not have been there. (NOTE: It turns out Warren J. Bowman wasn't there either-see Comments)

Now, the thing is that Bowman switched the faux wood grain to dark following the first 64 cards' display of blonde wood:

Perhaps the change was made due to production difficulties (brown wood grain would vex Topps in 1962) but they issued a salesman's strip with both grains during the transition:

Here is another:

I don't know the significance of the blonde version being upside down but it must have been cobbled together really quickly. They couldn't have printed both together, could they?

Back soon with a look at Topps saleman's samples from the 1950's. Stay cool kids!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Strip Show

This might be the first time I have posted twice in a single day but with a 3 1/2 day weekend upon us and Mrs. Archives still being at work, I have a little extra time on my hands. We are due for about four straight days of glorious weather to celebrate the Fourth of July, so I figure I'll post 'em if I got 'em!

As you no doubt will have noted by now, the header for this blog is a 4 card strip of uncut 1953 Topps baseball cards, which came from a significant find of uncut strips that had been discarded as printer's scrap but somehow spared the rubbish bin in 1953, only to resurface 30 years later as an old print shop's storage room was being cleared out. I snagged the strip you see above once it hit the shelves around 1983 at Bob Sevchuk's old shop in Hicksville, NY which also served as the walk-in surgical theater for the infamous "Gretzky" PSA 8 T206 Honus Wagner card.

Over the years I have accumulated a few other strips and am on the lookout for more and thought it would be fun to show some.

Here is the reverse of the 1953 strip:

The card that would have been to the right of #79 Wyrostek (or left of him if looking at the obverse) was none other than Mickey Mantle. I believe the Mantle ended up on a two card panel with Jim Hegan to his obverse left but can't swear to it. The Hegan card was on the upper left corner border of the uncut half sheet though.

Next is a 4 card panel from the 1957 Topps uncut sheet find that is heavily water damaged and typical of the condition most of the sheets were found in:

Where did Tom Acker get that cap-Woolworth's??!! The reverse shows similar damage:

I have already shown a paper 4 card panel from 1967 so will not rehash that here and instead move on to 1970:

This 3 card panel has a finished reverse but sometimes they do not. 3 card panels are seen fairly often and have been in the hobby for a long time; well before Topps started auctioning their treasures. Letr's get vertical for effect:

Next up is a hand-trimmed 6 card panel from 1972. Hand trimmed strips and panels do not seem to be as common as factory or machine cut ones.

The reverse is finished on this one too:

Next up is 1975, the last year Topps really put some color into things after a couple of lackluster years:

The reverse on this one is unfinished though:

I'll finish up with a 1972/73 hockey strip, also with an unfinished back. It had some print issues which I have corrected with my photo editor so caveat emptor!

The 3 card format is very pleasing to the eye but since Topps worked in a universe of 11 card rows, I am not certain why they are so common. Even their salesman samples (stay tuned) were generally 3 card strips, albeit with promotional information on the reverses and I suspect primarily from the first series of cards issued each year. Were the majority of 3 card strips created by Topps for some reason or do they represent pieces of uncut sheets that were sliced and diced after the fact? What happened to the 2 card panels that would have been left over as orphans from each row?

We'll attempt to find out but right now I have to go make some hamburgers!