Saturday, November 28, 2015

Lighten Up Francis

Still more mockup mayhem kids, courtesy of Friends o'the Archive Keith Olbermann and Net54 board member savedfrommyspokes. It's one baseball, one hockey and one football mockup this time, with extra points for excellent designs on all.

This 1979 baseball mockup, courtesy of the aforementioned savedfrommyspokes, is clearly close to a final design for the 1979 set.  I quite like it:

1979 has always been my favorite design from the "blah" era (1976-80) and that design is even better than the issued one IMO.

Hall of Famer Glenn Hall. "Mr. Goalie" adorns this particular Topps creation, courtesy of Mr. O, as is the final creation below as well:

What's not clear is what this design was being developed for.  Looking at his St. Louis Blues years (1967-68 to 1970-71) and the Topps and O-Pee-Chee cards from that time frame, he was a bit grayer the last two years, so I am thinking this shot is from his first or second season in St. Loo. A quick check of the away unis during that time shows he is possibly is wearing a hybrid but I think it's actually a playoff uni from that year.  The number on the sleeves for the Blues white tunics was a 1967-68 feature only but the fat blue stripe being sandwiched by thin gold on the sleeve may be from their playoff run that year as a much simpler design was replaced for the postseason. 

If that's not a design mockup for any of the sets issued by Topps or O-Pee-Chee during 1968-70 (which were very blah compared to the above design) then it may have been for an insert or "special" card. The 1968 O-Pee-Chee set had a second series that Topps did not and within it were some specials. Here is Hall's; I love how his first name is misspelled:

Another possibility is the Push Out insert from the same year, only issued with O-Pee-Chee cards:

Or it could be for something else entirely. I have to say the action shot on the mockup is much more appealing that the dour, five-o'clock-shadow tinged portraits on the above two cards.

We have another very nice looking mockup, or maybe even prototype with the next subject, Francis Asbury Tarkenton:

No clue what that mockup is supposed to represent, maybe a special set for a third party given the prominent NFL logo.  All I can say is that is one nice looking card and the border looks like it almost could have been designed with some type of sparkle in mind. Not sure of the year as their uniforms were pretty similar for the years (1968-71) Fran scrambled for Big Blue.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Turning Over An Old Leaf

Well it was bound to happen, a piece of American Leaf Tobacco Company history has finally landed in my lap. Now it's not one of my holy grail items, which would be a matchbook (an obvious choice for a tobacco importer and cigar packer) or stationery from the Brooklyn based HQ of ALTC but it's pretty sweet just the same. The item in question is a 1909 ALTC stock certificate issued for their Quincy, Florida operation.

I found my first reference for the owner of these particular shares, one Mr. Julian Mitchell, in the December 21, 1912 issue of Forest & Stream magazine which details the sale of his yacht to the U.S. Life Saving Service in Galveston. He is described as being from New York and little more sleuthing revealed he was a Broadway Producer and Director. His firm was eventually named Hamlin, Mitchell & Fields. Fields was Lew Fields, a very famous actor and comedian at the time who went into producing.  So Mr, Mitchell definitely had the means to purchase 50 shares of ALTC stock at $100 a throw!

The stock subscription was intended to raise $420,000 in capital, a huge sum of money at the time. That works out, of course, to 4,200 shares outstanding.  I'm still working on identifying the secretary and president of the Quincy concern as the signatures are a bit difficult to make out although the Secretary's surname looks like Shaw. I am still connecting the dots to Morris Chigorinsky (later Shorin) but prior research I have done links the Florida operation to Morris's Brooklyn HQ. I imagine since the stock was issued in accordance with the State of Florida's laws, the officers had to be Florida residents.

A look at the embossed seal gives us an ALTC incorporation date of 1908, which matches that of the New York Branch of the firm.

1908 being,  of course, the founding date of the company, as per this February 29, 1968 piece from the United States Tobacco Journal:

The back is a model of brevity. I think the transaction date is February 12, 1909 but it's a little hard to make out the month:

ALTC items are essentially non-existent so I am happy to have found this.  Hopefully more pieces from the firm will pop up but for now this will have to do.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Purchase History

I stumbled across a very interesting scan while tooling around the ol' WWW recently, namely a Topps Purchase Order from 1975 issued to Zabel Brothers that I found over at There is a lot of good information on this single document:

Quite clearly these are for the Rotsa Root checklist/puzzle cards that came with series 14 Wacky Packages. The commodity number (a.k.a. Production Code) matches that for these puzzle cards and shows just how important that was in the production and tracking of the different components of each issue from Topps. You get to see the rough number of cards that would be produced on the standard 264 card full sheets (15 Million), the number of full sheets required to meet this goal (57,000) and the specifications for the inks and varnish.  There would some orphaned pieces as each puzzle took nine cards to complete.

The films (artwork) were provided by Topps and, surprisingly to me at least, the stock came from them as well. FOB Shipping point means that the sale was consummated when the sheets left the Zabel Brothers shipping dock. Topps would assume the risk while in transit should any damage occur during the short trip from Philly to Duryea. Topps was still processing all of their finances in Brooklyn though. And there was a three week turnaround!

So of course I had to dig further and lo and behold, this Purchase Order, for the Wonder Bread Wacky Package insert stickers popped up from the great Lost Wackys site:

It's a slightly earlier order and the form is a little different. No commodity number was used because the order was destined for a Continental Baking packaging facility.  The layout is way different to boot, a "160 up" sticker sheet was used.  This array was 16 x 10, which we know thanks (again) to Lost Wackys. That site also states this was a unique sheet size and that the sticker stock was already on hand.  The stickers were cut into panels of two so the usual Topps 11 x 12 Topps array would have been problematic.  The packaging instructions were also very specific.

This order was to be completed in six weeks. Perhaps the annual Baseball card production would slow things down at this juncture, who knows? I also get 760,000 (160 x 9,500 / 2) as the panel count so I'm not sure why there is a discrepancy.  And at $1.76 a throw (per thousand) for cutting and packing (normally done by Topps) Zabel Brothers charged $1,100. I only wish the actual pricing for the sticker printing was shown.

These are just pieces of a larger puzzle.  There could be additional orders as sales were tabulated, for one, but the Rotsa Root card order gives a rough idea as to how many cards or stickers a typical Topps run would comprise.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Wrapping Is A Many Splendored Thing

A short time ago I posted about the 1973 Topps Baseball wrappers, namely the likely subjects of the four different varieties produced by Topps that year. I thought I did pretty well but while my batting average of .500 would be outstanding in the major leagues, it's decidedly pedestrian on this here blog.

As it turns out, Friend o'the Archive Keith Olbermann has some of the original materials used to create the wrappers in his collection.  It's a lot more involved than I would have thought.

First though, the secret identities. I was right about the pitcher (Steve Carlton) and the manager (Dick Williams).  I thought for sure the catcher was Thurman Munson but alas, it's Andy Etchebarren. As for the batter, well it's not Rod Carew as I had suspected (although I did hedge my bet) but as of right now, it's anybody's guess. What do you all think:


The materials though, are the reason for this post.  Let's look at the manager's artwork. Here is the finished product:

Now I am not going to try and ID the ump. It might be possible but I ain't doing it. And here is how it came to be:

You can see a tracing was made of the left side ump and Williams. It looks like an early attempt at framing the shot was made.  I would say the layers have shifted a little after all this time.

Here is a clearer look with one layer of film flipped up.

I have a bit of artwork from the 1970 Candy Lids Set that exhibits similar traits:

Mr. Etchebarren is like so:

We have only one look at the process for Andy and it's a bit of a messy one, although I like the layout instructions.  Woody Gelman was probably gone from Topps at this point; his distinct, slashing, all capitals handwriting used to relay the instructions to the art department or printer and while one of the handwritten notes is indeed in caps, it's not by his hand (UPDATE 7/27/20: It probably is Woody's "all caps" writing, just neater than normal):

Now Steve Carlton was easy to decipher:

A bit of an underlay here, some conceptual art work perhaps:

The various type of stippling and pebbling on the finished products were the result of different, textured artists boards or papers being used. The Williams wrapper actually looks like two types were used.  Crazy, man!