Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Wisdom Of Solomon

There were some super sweet Topps related items up for bid in the just concluded Legendary Auction for September 2014.  Over a dozen lots featuring Match Print photos taken by William Jacobellis have turned up and while only a scant few feature Topps images, they come with an added bonus, namely the scrawled approval of Ben Solomon, who was Woody Gelman's ad agency partner and at some point became the Topps Art Director.

The Match Prints are from the 1954 and 1956 sets.  Here is Larry Doby's, featuring both the main photo (with classic Yankee Stadium centerfield background) and the inset:

You can clearly see the "Ben Sol" OK on the reverse of each.  Pretty neat!

Here is the finished product:

Topps clearly was concerned with quality control and appears to be avoiding the use of wire photos to create their cards. Someone did a real nice job colorizing the main photo as well; art was a true art form in the 50's!

On a related note, I have not yet been able to figure out when Ben Solomon went to work for Topps as an employee.  While his Solomon & Gelman partner Woody worked on the 1952 Topps baseball set and is said to have joined the firm around that time (late 1951), I am not so sure.  Solomon & Gelman lived on until at least 1957 --and possibly even as late as 1962-- from what I have been able to find and they may have been taken in house by Topps before finally hiring on at some point.

I do note Jacobellis had an address fairly close to Solomon & Gelman's (230 W 41 St at one time before they moved three or four blocks north). There were probably dozens of commercial photographers in Manhattan at that time.  I wonder if this guy was one of them?

Here is a Net54 thread on Jacobellis and some other vintage era photographers that is well worth a look.


Sara Chapman in Seattle USA said...

I worked in the "bullpen" under Ben Solomon in around '68, taking the subway to Bush Terminal on a bus and 3 subway trains to do so. I was Sara Mickelson or maybe I had just married and was Sara Greenfield. He hired me as a trainee because I knew his daughter from college. He was a great guy and oversaw a strong department with maybe 10 or 12 artists? We did huge mechanicals with rubylith overlays for the Bazooka Joe comics and I worked on the baseball cards too. A lost set of skills but very wonderful to use, in the days before computers made them completely antiquated.

toppcat said...

Sara-very interesting. So are you on the Topps Teamates/Grow Power card showing Ben and the Art Department from 1970-71?

Anonymous said...

My uncle Benny was the greatest guy ever. My only regret is not keeping all the sheets of cards I had. I was one of the first kids to have ring pops. He'll I had alot of firsts. Even garbage pail kids. Most of my stuff from topps is gone, but I still have some sheets of cards, including some soccer from Euroupe and a sheet or Star Trek. If only I had known what he had given me. I have Benny's magnifier that he carried around to Check color. Yea I miss Benny. I'm glad he got a mention here... nice going to everyone for discussing this. It brings back memories of my uncles and my grandfather who owned Valco on Steinway st in Astoria.

Anonymous said...

The last comment was not anonymous. It's brandonseth007@gmail. Can that be changed?

toppcat said...

I think you have to change your settings or have a G-mail account but we can see it now with your latest.