Thanks to a (sadly) current eBay auction, I think I have stumbled onto the end of the Trading Card Guild era at Topps. Long story short a bogus 1967 baseball rak pak is currently up on the 'bay but it's clearly a homemade job and I shall not link to it. I did some research on legitimate Rak Paks though as a result and think I resolved the end date for the Guild. First, let's look at some raks!
Basically, any rak pak prior to 1968 would contain 3 individual cello packs encased in an overwrap plus a header card stapled to the end of the overwrap, which extended a bit to accomodate the staples for the header. The first of these appeared in 1959 if I am not mistaken and Topps used them for any variety of issues, not just baseball.
Here is what a proper '66 rak pak looks like:
You can see the three cells (plus a really great insert) and how they are overwrapped, plus the header card is stapled to the whole package, it's flaps sandwiching the rak proper. This is how any rak through 1967 should look. In fact, here is a legit '67:
You can see the three cello packs still, plus the old style header card attachment. I can't get it to reproduce properly here but the text at the bottom right of the header says Topps Chewing Gum. The next year, the cellos had vanished as Topps moved to the more familiar version, sans individual cellos and utilizing three "cells" or pockets of loose cards, with a fourth cell that enclosed the header card.
Those last two raks are from Mark Murphy's excellent Unopened Pack Guide. It's a little outdated as it was last updated in 2002 but is chock full of useful information.
But that's not why I am posting all this today. The real reason? Take a look at that 1966 header card again, along the bottom, under the EXTRA SPECIAL FEATURE line, it says "Trading Card Guild Mfr." That is the latest date I have seen associated with the Trading Card Guild and likely marks the end of their run. It is increasingly apparent to me that Topps would haul out the Guild for any product sold without gum, i.e.non-confectionery items be they in vending, cellos or raks. I suspect this was due to their contracts and no-competes on various, if not all issues, a problem worked out by 1967 it appears.
The Guild livery was more obvious on some raks than others. Check out this classic 1962 Civil War News rak, a scan I pinched from an Abraham Lincoln site:
Amusingly, there is no Trading Card Guild ID on the rak but it certainly pushed the educational aspect. That rak theoretically held about 40% of an entire set, although I am sure some duplicates lurk within!
Is there more information about pre-1967 Topps Bsaeball rack packs? Supposedly such packs existed each year all the way back to 1959. There are also pictures of such racks in Topps sales sheets. Sadly, it seems as if few (if any) of them survived intact.
There is also some anecdotal information about such racks being made available in certain test markets, e.g. Smithtown, NY (Long Island) in the early 1960s. Is there any information about this available?
Any chance you can get more information about early Topps rack packs and post it?
I have never heard of Smithtown being a test market for Topps before. Would love to hear more on this.
More coming on the Raks soon!
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