Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Album Art

Well eBay ain't what it used to be these days (what is?) but there is the occasional offbeat treasure still to be found there. I stumbled across a few scans for the 1967 Venezuelan Topps album, which is  a fantastic item, moreso because it's meant to house the most intriguing off all the Venezuelan issues licensed by Topps.

Here is a shot of the cover, which confirms a key detail about the set:

As noted here previously, these sets were issued from then end of one year into the next, as that is how the Venezuelan Winter League season was played.  So the 1967 set is really 1967-68 and the next year's, which mimics the 68 US issue, spans 1968-69.  

The interior pages had numbered spots for the entire set and you cansee there was space for all three types of cards:

This spread shows the cards licensed from Topps.  The rough shape of the album is pretty typical.  The next page shows some Retirado cards plus a couple of big names:

You don't get much bigger than Luis Aparicio in Venezuela and clearly the Mick is the biggest name in the hobby here in the States.

The Venezuelan Winter League is also represented:

Love the stolen bases graphic at the bottom!  The back cover is illustrated as well:

I'll have more on Topps' adventures and misadventures in Central and South America next time out.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Extreme Focus

Your webmaster managed to snag a couple of scans, albeit not the card, of what I believe to be the final card in the "small" 1955 Hocus Focus set.  As we have seen here previously, this set was issued in 1955 in two different sizes and lengths.  The larger cards have 96 in the set, the smaller ones go to what has been a vague number but generally thought to be 121 or 126. As faithful readers of this site know, 126 is the likely ending point.  Thanks to eBay we now have a picture of #126.

Yes, what youngster in 1955 did not want a card of Louis Pasteur?!

It's a little light but I would have been happy to take it.  Alas, I was too late!  Here is the all important back though:

I still need to see a representative card back from some of the subsets in the small issue but I am convinced the set goes to and ends at #126 now. Even as things get to that point, there are still holes in the checklist above #96. Crazy!

Friday, February 22, 2013

School Daze

Well kids, the folks at Legendary Auctions have done it again. Not only do they have a massive trove of Topps related goodies in their current auction but they have answered a question or two about a set blogged upon here a little while back and dubbed Funny Flash Cards.

According to the writeup for the lot, the set was a test from 1968 and is considered "elusive".  Agreed.

The Lot has 33 of the 55 examples shown in uncut proof form.  I took an extract from one to show what is actually the front of the Mrs. Seward card featured last time.  Ready?  Here goes:

The reverse is where all the action is:

I did say uncut proof sheets, didn't I?

There are seven "subjects" represented in the little red triangles: History, Nature Studies, Mathematics, Literature, Grammar, Science & Social Studies.  Without the other 22 cards available for inspection it's hard to tell if the list is complete.  Here are the backs:

Topps would often proof series or sets in two batches.  Usually one batch was meant to be double printed and was separated from the other but we can't tell which one was which here, 33 or 22. No wrapper is known still, so distribution is a bit murky.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

52 Is Not 53

One of the more enduring hobby stories has been that 1952 Baseball high numbers could be found in 1953 Baseball packs, especially in Canada.  I'm pretty sure I know why this is so but have never really made the full connection until now.

As discussed here previously, a normal five cent 1952 pack is predominantly green and red.  Two varieties of this pack were issued.  The first, as this example from Cardboard Connection shows, is horizontally aligned and has two side panel ads.  One touts the new Giant Size cards within, while the other extolls a premium offer for baseball pennants:

Above the pennant offer is a block of information that includes a 1952 copyright date. 

Topps also came out with a very similar wrapper but changed the "Giant Size" ad panel to one advertising baseball emblem premiums by retaining the short line about collecting the Giant Size cards. The webmaster at thinks these only held first series cards only but I am not so sure it was limited to only that series, for reasons that will be revealed momentarily:

The above wrapper is from a Huggins & Scott auction and you can see the emblem ad atop (the wrapper is not fully shown).  These are much harder to find than the other variety which would support the first series only theory but when the high numbers came out, Topps used the  above variety, replacing green with blue, so they may have been used here and there as needed (or found in the warehouse):

So the "emblem" wrapper was either trotted out again or the continuity is all screwed up, which is always a possibility with Topps. That blue block of color also appears jury rigged-look at how it does not seamlessly transition to the red portion of the wrapper.

Compare the high number '52 wrapper with the regular 1953 wrappers and you can see why confusion exists.  Here is the earlier 1953 wrapper, with clear dating:

Once again using a scan from Cardboard Connection, you can see the orientation has changed to vertical and the baseball design element has been rotated a little.  This version clearly identifies 1953 on a side panel and moves the copyright from upper right corner in the ingredient panel to lower left (and it's in a red font to boot).  The Bazooka ad though, is so prominent the other differences are almost moot, although the '52 uses a darker blue.

The undated version of the wrapper keeps the main design elements, as this eBay scan shows, but loses the "1953":

Interestingly the 1953 dating on the right side panel is gone, to match the removal of the date on the front.  I think Topps did this as the years wore on to allow sales to continue after the season ended.  It sometimes took many months for each series to be fully distributed across the U.S. back then.

Now any theory concerning Topps is subject to something coming out of left field to dispute it but I think the similarity of the 1953 wrappers with the 1952 high number packaging is one reason veteran hobbyists think the '52 highs came in '53 wrappers. There are also reports of 1st series '53 packs having 52 high's mixed in with them out there so there may be something to that as well.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bump-Da Bump-Da Bump-Da Bump-Da Baa Baa Bump-Da-Da Bump-Da-Da Bump Ba Da Da Da Dah!

Well now cowpokes, it's not every day that a handful of supremely rare Bonanza cards come up for auction, now is it?  Well that day is almost here and on February 18th Legendary Auctions goes live with four of these babies:

No. 2, oversized displaying proof marks

No. 13

No. 14

No. 16

In addition to those four, all of which have staple holes (indicating they were file copies saved by Woody Gelman)  a fifth card is known by name but not by number:

That little splash of red is part of the design based on what I previously posted here a while ago but it is not showing up on the Legendary examples. Since two of the verified cards ("Cheer Up, Hoss" and Ready for Trouble) are now known with and without the red accent, it appears the four new examples could all be proofs. Backs are not typical of Topps at all and may indicate these were produced for in house meetings or a pitch to the Bonanza braintrust:

Even the Adam Cartwright card above, which has not been sighted previously by yours truly, was previously know per a checklist in the Non-Sports Bible. When you piece it all together, it seems like there may only be five or six different cards,which supports the in-house production theory quite well. Still, these are finished cards so maybe they got a little past that phase. We'll know in a few weeks what the hobby values them at but I suspect these will be sitting in PSA holders shortly thereafter.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Gassed Up

Quite the month when it comes to matchbooks buccos!  As many of you know, the Shorin family under the auspices of youngest son Joseph, ran a chain of Brooklyn gas stations from 1928-38, the sale money from which helped start Topps. Called American Gas Stations (AGS), the firm snapped up properties during the Depression and built over a dozen distinctive looking stations, all of which appear to have been torn down now (one had remained intact until a couple of years ago). I had tracked down a scan of a matchbook from the company a while back and managed to snag an example two weeks ago, although it is rough and miscut. No matter, a scan of a better one was posted here a while back.

So imagine my delight when I found an alternate AGS  matchbook, which arrived here yesterday.  This one is a normal sized version and lists eight or nine AGS stations inside (not sure if HQ qualified).  It is a classic of early 30's design as well:


The number of locations places this around 1932 I think. I googled their HQ and it was basically convenient to the neighborhood where most, if not all, of the Shorin family lived at the time.

And then amazingly I found another matchbook.  This one was another jumbo, or double, and resembled the one previously shown here.  The listing had expired on eBay and the scan could be better but it is different and I think it slots in date-wise between the one above and the one found prior but a couple of details put a kink in the timeline:

That's thirteen locations by my count, so mid to late 1930's as I believe they had 17 by the time they sold out to Standard Oil.  The one after this details only ten stations but I thought two of them seem to have been purchased in early 1938 but I now think that's incorrect for two reasons: 1) the station count and b) my belief that Mobilgas branding succeeded Socony branding but I could be wrong on the latter point. Oh, I'll just show the other one again:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Funny Stuff

An early Topps issue that is a bit unknown to many collectors, Funny Foldees were originally issued in 1949 and then reissued in 1955 (or thereabouts). In between there were a number of design changes made to this metamorphic set of 66 cards.

As you can see, nine different pictures were possible (Oh, if only there was a bear instead of a woman....) but the real trick these days is finding examples that have not been folded. And is it cheating if three of the pictures are unaltered?

Funny Foldees were printed in color groups, as follows:

1-11: Yellow, 12-22: Blue, 23-33: Red, 34-44 and 55: Orange, 45-54 Green, 56-66 Yellow. Why #55 is out of sequence is  real head scratcher.  There were a number of subjects that ended up redrawn, one of them actually was redrawn twice.  I hate to be a tease but until I have scans of the ones that were changed I am not going to post the differences! I will tell you though that the numbers involved were: 9, 13,14,19, 26, 29, 39, 48 & 51.

A box showed up on eBay recently, purportedly from 1949:


Boxes, packs and wrappers are rare so it's hard to tell if it is a '49.  The 1955 reissue date may have been surmised from the Hocus Focus reissues the same year but I am not sure what it's based upon.   The wrapper was unknown in the hobby until about 15-30 years ago:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hey Joe

A while back I included a scan of a pretty well known Joe Garagiola business card produced by Topps in 1976.  It featured the man who made Yogi Berra a sage in an airbrushed  chest protector on a very well done version of a 1973 Topps baseball card.  I had known at the time there was also a 1991 version of the card but did not have a scan handy for posting.  I have since managed to snag a scan off eBay of one and there is a design difference or two worth showing:

Ignoring the autograph, which was not part of the design, the cards features the 90's Topps logo and a Today Show logo. He is also shown as a "Today Show All Star" and not an "NBC All Star."  As you can see here, the 1976 version had none of these elements:

I always wondered why an updated card was made by Topps and it turns out Joe rejoined the Today Show in 1990 before leaving again in 1992 (he had been there previously from 1967-73). The original baseball card was produced since he was member of the broadcast team for Monday Night Baseball  on the network at the time, in addition to some other duties.

I do not yet have a back scan of the '91 card but I am sure one will turn up.