Friday, October 5, 2012

Splendidly Selling Splinter

I'm not positive but 1959 may have been Topps' all time best year for sales of baseball cards, when adjusted for cards sold per million population.  There are no real sales figures available but there were massive amounts of cardboard and gum being sold by them at this point. Their competitors in the confectionery field were also experiencing rapid growth as the US population swelled in the midst of the baby boom. Our continuing look at these competitors brings us to Fleer Gum.

After vanquishing Bowman, Topps had the national baseball card market all to themselves from 1956-58 but in 1959, Fleer, another Philadelphia confectioner that had been in business since 1885, entered the trading card fray for real (they had previously issued a set in 1923!) with an 80 card set depicting the life of Ted Williams.  Card #68 from the set, as most of us know, was pulled at some point as it also showed Bucky Harris (and Joe Cronin, as I originally typed-thanks Anonymous!), who apparently had not signed a  contract with Fleer:

The cards were sold in this fabulous looking wrapper:

What intrigues me about this set, which was massively over-produced (including the "rare" #68), is an alternate pack that was sold with two extra cards and no gum:

I don't know if the gumless version was a test but whereas the wrapper with gum is quite common, the 8 card version is exceedingly rare.  I want to keep digging into this and will report back any findings.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, that's Bucky Harris on card #68 with Ted, not Joe Cronin.