Thursday, May 30, 2013

Catalog Crazy!

Well, I was tragically outbid on a March 1965 price list from Card Collectors Company (one of Woody Gelman's side gigs) but managed to snag a bunch of scans that were quite illuminating.  Here goes...

Some items immediately grabbed my attention:

1) The 1951 All Stars "set" of 22 must have included not only all 11 Connie Mack All Stars but also the eight Major League All Stars and by implication the three super short prints!  (UPDATE 6/1/13 Keith Olbermann has advised CCC was NOT selling the three short prints).

2) 1952 high numbers were already scarce, going for a buck a pop. I am trying to reconcile this with the large number allegedly dumped by Topps in 1960 (a story I do not believe anymore).

3) 1956 Baseball Buttons (Pins) could be had at a nickel apiece, although the supply seems thin nine years after issue.

4) There were no full sets of 1964 Baseball Coins available mere months after they had been inserted into the 1964 packs.

5) 1959 Bazooka baseball cards could be had for fifteen cents each (see TOPPS GIANT SIZE in the  lower right corner).  I wonder if they were still on the box flats?

Next up, pages two and three:

Bowman's, Leaf's, T206's (a whopping forty cents each!) but the Canadian cards, including some Parkhursts are an eye opener.  Topps Hockey would have entered the US hobby this way. And Woody selling Fleer cards while Topps was  locked in a huge court battle with them is downright bizarre. Plus, more Bazooka! Not sure what the Baseball Card Check List was-possibly Charles Bray's American Book of Checklists? (UPDATE 6/1/13/: Keith Olbermann has also advised this was Woody's own bare bones checklist).

Feeling bookish?  The next set of pages will help:

All sorts of goodies here from primeval card storgae to ACC's to Basketball cards from Topps and Bowman.  You can almost hear the anguished cries of old school hobbyists needing proper storage ringing out.

Non Sports?  Check:

I see Space cards but where is Target: Moon?  Next up: Exhibits:

Too bad the want ad is cutoff, I am curious what Woody was still after. Things finish off with pictures (I think a page or two was missing from either the auction or the scan:

Given the treasure trove of information here, if any readers have good scans of other CCC catalog, please send them along for a future installment.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Target: Moon Date

Back in 2012 I had an article appear in The Wrapper #265 that compared the vastly similar Space Cards and Target: Moon issues and attempted to date each set as the conventional hobby wisdom had them both coming out at the same time in 1957 or '58.  I was able to determine Space Cards had been issued in 1957 and Target: Moon (the blue backed edition) had come out sometime after mid-1958 due to differences in the Bazooka advertising on the wrappers. My conclusion on Target: Moon was that is had likely been issued in 1962 but that there was a possible date range of mid-1958 to mid-1963. I won't bore you with the details but you can read all about it here.

Thanks to a Target: Moon penny box proof being offered in the latest Legendary auction, another piece of the puzzle has been revealed.  This proof gives us a good look at the box bottom, which along with the indicia on many period wrappers, is often the best way to glean information about the peculiarities of certain sets.  The proof is magnificent:

I'll flip it around so you can read it but the red copyright strip on what would be the box bottom is a big clue as to possible time frame, as is the inclusion of a Blony "hint" on the back panel. The first thing to notice though is that the Bazooka gum tab shown states "Topps" and not "The Atom" on the red triangle portion, which confirms the mid 1958 or later date of issue.

Blony will be revisited in a minute but lets check out the copyright strip up close:

The address is our quarry here as it states Brooklyn 32, N.Y., which is proper since it should predate the use of ZIP codes which came into use on July 1, 1963. The colored bar of copyright, and manufacturing information first saw use by Topps in 1955 and stopped in 1963.  Here are some other box bottoms for comparison.  First 1957 Baseball:

An exact match (not always the case). Here is a 1962 Baseball Bucks box:

It's blurry but there is a "32" postal designation in the color bar.  By 1963 the color bar was gone as a new style was introduced but the "32" was still there, at least in the beginning of the year as this 1963 Baseball box shows:

1963's Beverly Hillbillies was similar to the above:

Not all issues follow these patterns.  There is a 1961 Baseball box with no color bar and no "32" and some 1964 Baseball boxes have no indicia on the bottom at all (possibly due to the ZIP code changeover) and to further confuse things a 1965 Outer Limits box still has the "32" plus a PO Box number as it identifies Topps alter-ego Bubbles, Inc. but I think you get my drift; the color bar disappears in 1963, so Target: Moon would have been issued before then.  The "32" slowly faded away and a Brooklyn, N.Y. address without it or a ZIP code followed.  Around the time of the move to Duryea in 1966 a 11232 ZIP code came into play until Brooklyn itself was banished in mid-1969 as Topps abandoned their roots for good.

Now what about that furshlugginer Blony ad? As we know, Topps acquired the brand when it bought Bowman in 1956.  I don't know when Blony ads featuring the "rainbow" bubble shown on the Target: Moon box started showing up in earnest once Topps redesigned that brand's wrapper so that's no help, although it was identified as a "twin" pack (2 pieces) in some 1957 product ads (the rainbow pack is not a twin pack I don't think). Blony continued on, spasmodically, into the 1970's but underwent another redesign in 1969.  

As of now, I am wavering on my 1962 estimated issue date for Target: Moon and hoping to develop a little more information on the Blony graphics to nail the date down better.  Jeff Shepherd has a huge amount of his collection featured in a new book about Bazooka Joe (go buy it-trust me) and he has some dating on Blony wrappers I want to think about and discuss with him. As always, readers thoughts are appreciated.

(UPDATE May 30, 2013: As usual, Shep comes through-the rainbow design on Blony was used in 1957-58  (when a major redesign occurred) while the "Topps" version of Bazooka replaced the "Atom" version in mid 1958.  So Target: Moon must have been a reissue of Space Cards a year after the original issue. This reissue was missed by the American Card Catalog compilers in the 1960 (and last) version of that guide.)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sales Alert

With apologies for the lack of original postings as my calendar slowly recedes to the new normal, I wanted to alert everybody to a series of posts being made by Bob Lemke on his blog that show some very revealing sales numbers for Topps, Bowman and Goudey (with a couple more companies to come) in the 1930's, 40's and 50's.  Here is the link:

I'll be incorporating Bob's source material into version 2.0 of the Modern Hobby Guide, which is presently being worked upon but there is some really good information in Bob's recent posts that I think would fascinate readers here.

Friday, May 10, 2013


One of the strangest Topps lots I have ever seen recently closed on eBay.  I got real excited when this cache of 89 1948 Topps Tatoo wrappers popped up until I realized they were all of the same subject!  Yes 89 examples of Atlas, all looking pretty ex-minty:

The eagle eyed among you will note the lack of the telltale Topps production rip at the top, as documented here.  While all 89 wrappers are not visible, it sure looks like none of these were ever wrapped around a piece of gum. Atlas is also a subject that constantly shows up on eBay (along with a dinosaur) and sure enough when I checked my collection of unripped Tatoo wrappers (one from each year of issue: '48, '49 and 53) I had an Atlas. A normal wrapper looks like this of course:

So this leads to an interesting question, namely, why would there be 89 examples of one specimen in such nice shape?  BFF o'the Archive, Jeff Shepherd, thought they may have been salesman's samples, intended for stapling to letters sent out by the sales team at Topps and I suspect he may be right.  It makes me wonder if most unripped Tatoo wrappers, no matter what the year, were intended as samples.

It also makes me wonder how these were produced.  Most  Topps tatoo (and similar) issues through the late 1960's  were printed as rolls with alternating subjects.  While this was the first Topps novelty product, I have to doubt they were so inept as to group so may subjects together and admit I am a bit stumped as to the process that would result in such a hoard.

Will a similar hoard of dinosaurs be next?  Hard to say since Atlas examples outnumber them from what I have observed.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Tatuaje Tu

Well, they are tattered and torn and the scans are poor but I am super excited about an unknown to the hobby 1960 Baseball Tattoo from Venezuela that just sold on eBay (for $360).  Here is what all the fuss was about:

Compare to this US wrapper (Venezuelan wrappers often had different color schemes than the US ones):

An OPC pack shows the international flavor of this issue:

The indicia is hard to read but indicates the pack was made in Venezuela:

The purchaser got a tattoo of Don Drysdale for their troubles:

I'm pretty sure I know who won the auction and hope to have some hi-resolution scans at some point.  Now, can you imagine what a nicer wrapper or pack like the US and Canadian examples shown above would bring?!