Saturday, July 13, 2019

Batter Up, Up And Away!

I've been tracking a few different things of late, almost all of them packaging related.  I usually semi-rehash things when I start looking at broader cross sections of things but dem's da breaks with this!  Anyhoo, 1968 Topps Batter Up is today's subject.

Everybody, presumably, is familiar with the 33 card insert Game cards Topps included in their wax and cello packs in 1968. What is less familiar, but known to some of us, is that Topps tried to market the complete set in boxed form as well; see here for much more detail.  I believe these were only test products, based upon this box flat proof:

I can't swear I've seen a 10 cent variety in box form (update, I now have, see end of post) but the 15 cent versions do pop up from time to time.  There's more to it than that, hence this post, but this seems like an early example of Topps trying out two price points on a test product, a practice that became more prevalent in the 70's but had to start somewhere.

The 15 cent boxes are difficult but not impossible. Here's a real nice one:

As you may or may not be able to see, the proof does seem to carry commodity codes on a box flap but I can't make it out.  I presume it ends in an "8" and suspect these were marketed around the time of the World Series or if they waited, the start of spring training and/or the regular season in 1969.

It's pretty cool of Topps to have marketed the full set but they must have had a ton of the insert cards on their hands as they are ubiquitous in the hobby.

Now what came next, presumably next that is, would seem to indicate either some sort of product dump or a complete erasure of the ten cent pricing.  I've seen these versions as well in a few different spots over the years:

The blacked out price, given the fact these exist in multiples, was probably effected by Topps.  Did they flood the tertiary market with these, market them in Fun Packs, decide a dime was too cheap, or just repurpose them some other way?  I don't know, it could even be all four.

And what of this anomaly, from an old REA auction:

By the time this stickered over version came around it seems like a dumping of product for resale at some deeply discounted rate was contemplated or perhaps actually occurred.  I've seen at least one other like that as well. The plain black circles on some boxes could indicate the white sticker has fallen off, I'm really not sure.

We should not forget that Topps actually stole this idea from Ed-U-Cards, who sold these in the late 40's and early 50's:

The quotes around "Batter Up" by Topps may have been an attempt to avoid a trademark issue. The Ed-U-Cards set was also used as a premium by a beverage company called Cott.  The whole story is here, along with details about how Topps also used a design for a paper baseball diamond/scoresheet that came in the Ed-U-Cards box in the bagged set of Red Backs that burned off excess stock in 1952 or thereabouts. It would have been a neat thing to include such an item here but they didn't, so far as I can tell.

Play Ball!

UPDATE 7/18/19-Al Richter has provided a scan of a 10 cent box that was issued.  I still think the 10 centers eventually had their prices covered but this is a neat find-thanks Al!

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