Thursday, December 31, 2020

All Gummed Up And Nowhere To Go

Well here we are at the end of the strangest year imaginable.  As mentioned last time out, I've moved up the holiday season posts this year and will be back on a Saturday schedule in 2021. Today's entry is really just a catch-up post and then it's off to the champagne and confetti!

Friend o'the Archive Jason Rhodes sent along a scan of what looks like the 42nd subject from Bowman's Uncle Miltie Bubble Gum--examined here last month-- and it's one that allows a sizing comparison:

Shorter and wider than a typical Topps penny tatoo of the era, it looks like glassine to me.  Also of note is the little production rip just like the ones Topps produced.  And then, quite amazingly, this showed up on a UK eBay auction:

There's treasure inside:

One of those packs is on its way to me but arriving too late to include here.  These are a hard act to follow, just like Berle, but I'll give it a whirl!

A 1955 trade journal gives us rough dating for what looks like a coffee-flavored chiclet-style gum:

I've only seen one other reference to this product, which must have fizzled pretty quickly despite the caption.  Karl Fink (not Kink!) was as Shorin in-law and also became a renowned designer of commercial and industrial products.  I am looking for details on him since despite his fame, very little seems to be available on his activities.

Finally, Friend o'the Archive Lonnie Cummins sent along a neat old picture showing a load-in tie-in from Topps Bush Terminal HQ:

McKeesport Candy Company is still in business! It's also an area (near Pittsburgh) where the 1971 Topps Winners contest entries seem to have been concentrated, perhaps a connection to wholesalers is the key to that weird and now-expensive set!  More fodder for 2021-Happy New Year folks, see ya on January 9th!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Stocking Stuffer

I'll be posting on Thursday this week and next in view of where Christmas and New Year's Eve fall on the calendar, then back to the normal Saturday schedule in (gulp!) 2021.

One reason I'm moving things up is so everybody can get a stocking this year:

Yes, that is a five cent 1952 Topps Baseball pack peeking out from a polythene stocking! This stocking was not a Topps product but something they must have worked on as a "special promotion" as detailed in last week's post. I say that with confidence as the promotional piece above appeared in an August 1952 trade journal.  Given the lead time to assemble this holiday treat, the time to prepare the publication and the practice of advancement of issue dates on printed matter in the early 50's, I'd estimate Topps had this deal in place around June 1952 if not earlier, possibly smack dab in production of the middle of the "long" series of cards spanning nos. 81 to 250,  or even close to the time the semi-highs were being printed.  

Offically dubbed "Santa's Sack" before such a moniker would produce a ROFL or LOL, the stocking appears to have also held some hard candies and a pack of candy or gum cigarettes called "Mumps" (Correction: "Humps", as per Brett Alan's comment below). At a guess, more than one brand of candy cigarette would have been available.  Here's a slightly closer look.

Topps probably ran such cross-promotions well into the 1960's while also selling their own Fun Packs and the like at various points in the year (which were roughly keyed to Valentine's Day, Hallowe'en and Christmas).  They also had their own Candy Divison pumping out some holiday treats in the early 50's.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

We Belong To The World

Some partial scans are better than others. Friend o'the Archive Peter Fishman unearthed this little beauty from his own archives recently and it's worth a look I think:

The dating is said to be 1956 and it's from a publication called The Candy Buyer's Directory, although I think the dating could be a smidge too late. I'll revisit momentarily.

Three things jump out at me with this ad. The first is the very clear message that Topps was an international concern.  Indeed, beyond their North American activities (Canada and Mexico came along quite early) they were making inroads in Europe, South America and even the Middle East (Israel was getting Topps products by the end of the 40's) and were looking well beyond those areas as well.

Second is the obvious promtional nature of the advert.  Topps was well-versed in cross promotion by the mid 1950's and would continue as the decades progressed.

Third, there is no mention of Bazooka, which is a little odd.  Clor-Aid Gum though is clearly on display and that leads me to our little dating conundrum. On March 4, 1954 The U.S. Second Circuit's Court of Appeals ruled that Topps was prohibited from using the Clor-Aid name as it infringed upon American Chicle's Clorets brand name and packaging.  The year before Topps had previously lost to that firm in marketing Topps Gum in a package that was to close to that of Chiclets:

Pretty darn close to a Chiclets package for sure!

With that, I think this ad is from early 1954, and also as below.

Present are a number of 1953-4 issues; putting aside the perennial Baseball, we have Wings, which was marketed in 1952-53,  World on Wheels (1953-54), Tatoo (a 1953 reissue), the 1953 version of License Plates, Who-Z-At Star (also 1953), Scoop (1953-54 but late 1953 and early 1954) and Tarzan, which was somewhere in the 1952-54 continuum (precisely where in those years is a bit of a mystery still for the two sets issued under this title but one seems almost certain to have been from 1953). Then we have the head-scratching World Coins which premiered in 1949 as a penny tab product and was reimagined as Play Coins of the World in 1950. Perhaps the international appeal of the original title was behind it's prominence, or maybe Topps had extra coins still to puch out the door.

Clor-Aid may have been intended to capitalize not just on the American market but also in French-speaking areas (France and Switzerland) as the court noted it sounds the same as Clorets in that tongue. But Topps got sued by American Chicle in 1953 for repackaging the re-imagined Topps Gum (again, they had previously tried to glom onto the Chiclets brand with packaging that was ruled too close for comfort) and while they were found to have copied the packaging, a trademark infringement suit failed.  American Chicle then appealed, leading to the March 4th judgement by the same judge that dinged them on the Chiclets affair. So it was an odd choice I think to use in in this ad.

We know Wings, which intriguingly had a Spanish Langauge version issued in Mexico (and possibly parts of South America) saw a tie-in with Doeskin Tissues and also with a brand of sneakers called Red Ball Jets in 1955, so maybe the ad was designed to burn off excess stock after all (and perhaps the ad resulted in those tie-ins!).  Maybe even an excess of chlorophyll gum nuggets found their way into some promotional scheme somewhere. 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Gouache They're Nice

It's been exactly half a decade since I last revisited the topic of the 1953 Topps Baseball original paintings and there is an exciting bit of news to report.

The recently concluded Love of the Game auction had a half dozen of these beauties, all new to the hobby and coming out of the Ted Patterson collection. All represent images from issued cards.  Ted was a Baltimore broadcaster for decades but I can't see any Baltimore link to the six he had, which were displayed in his home along with tons of ofther great memorabilia. Ted had interviewed Sy Berger before a big Baltimore card convention in 1975 and I can't help but wonder if these six came from Sy's basement stash of paintings at some point thereafter.

Here is Carlos Bernier, which is a bit below the quality of many other images in the set IMO:

Dale Mitchell is next, looking wistfully at a distant spring training horizon:

Frank Campos, the 1952 Topps semi-high variation legend, looks pretty pleased with things here:

Up next, Johnny Wryostek, whose visage graced the leftmost portion of the 1953 Topps strip that used to adorn this blog's apex.  Mantle was just to the left of him on the sheet,

Ray Boone is up next.  You all know about his son (Bob) and grandsons Bret and Aaron but did you know the Nationals inked great-grandson Jake out of Princeton earlier this year?  If he makes the bigs, the Boones will be the first family to send four generations of players to the majors.

Wally Westlake rounds out the half dozen:

If my math and inquiries are correct, 164 of the originals are now confirmed, plus nine paintings of unissued subjects.  110 to go!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Bang On A Can

There are still some amazing things popping up when it comes to Topps.  I've posted about several different 1940's Topps Gum displays previously, with a good summary found here. If you click that link and scroll down, you will see a traditional cardboard Topps Spot Display that measures about two inches high and held 100 gum tabs.  I've now landed an entirely different beast, namely one made of mild steel:

It's a smidge under 4 inches tall and quite heavy.  It could easily have doubled the gum load held by the cardboard version and then some. This metal version's visuals are similar to the 1946 cardboard graphics; earlier canisters, some with foil highlights and some without, are dated 1942 and mention "Only Natural Flavors". There's at least one later version as well but I don't have any dated past 1946 here at the main Topps Archives Research Complex. The seller obtained it from a collection in Syracuse, New York but he didn't know any history of it beyond that.

Topps had to use some artificial ingredients as WW2 raged on, so I'm not exactly sure when they switched over from "Only Natural Flavors" to "Take Your Change" but believe it was either during the latter part of the war or just after it ended and this motto clearly ties to their Changemaker ad and PR campaign that went into overdrive after the war.  

Yes it's rusty!

I mentioned opening earlier, didn't I?  Well you needed a key to open these and Topps handily sent one along for the ride.

Another key certainly opened this bad boy up, perhaps from the same shipment. Well guess what, the day after I received my metal can, another popped up on eBay, albeit from a different seller and sans affixed key, which obviously got used as intended.  This one though, still had the lid, although it had been keyed:

I'm about 99% sure the example with the lid was being offered by a store a little to the Southeast of Cleveland. Both of the known metal canisters seem to be connected to the old Rust Belt/Great Lakes area then, which is interesting given the packaging and Topps' connections to a printer or two in the Great Lakes vicinity. The heaviness of the can though seems at odds with Topps micro-managing the shipped weights of their products in the 40's as they had razor thin margins on their penny confections.

This may all show details of an old Topps jobber's distribution route but it's not really clear and another one of my guesses as to its market tends toward military or similar rough use.  Shipboard in the Navy or on display at a foreign PX somewhere seems to make sense but I just don't know.   All I know is I had never seen one before and now two popped up within ten days of each other!

Saturday, November 28, 2020


BFF o'the Archive Jeff Sherman sent some old Topps promotional material across my transom the other month and it's high time I unveil things here.

Regular readers of this blog know that Topps unofficially dubbed their pre-Bazooka penny gum tab the Changemaker. I have no idea who came up with this slogan but it was genius.  Now Bazooka eventually led to the demise of their first and quite traditional gum line but in 1947, as the postwar boom was taking off, things were going full tilt at Topps. Until the point of discontinuance was reached in the early 50's they had deployed a multi-layered advertising and promotional campaign that was a thing of beauty.

In a continuation of their waritme use of comic illustration humorous ads aimed at consumers were deployed in various magazines, on subway cars and buses around the country and pretty much anywhere they could fit one in.  Here's a prime example:

The best way to push their ubiquitous penny tab to consumers was to get the jobbers and their customers in line. Jobbers (wholesalers) got to participate in the Topps Jamboree, which gave away such prizes as new cars and exotic vacations to the top selling individual performers.  This blurb from a 1949 trade journal shows just how well their PR machine was oiled:

You can see an old American Leaf Tobacco Company connection in the winner of that 4th place prize. Retailers didn't get left out but the prizes became commensurately skimpier the further down the food chain they went. This promotional pamphlet from 1947 (about a year earlier than the cartoon ad above) laid it all out:

Those premium certificates have been covered here in depth and were key to the Topps sales and marketing strategies. For this iteration of the Changemaker promotional cycle, things were decidedly Eversharp:

As to what was so Eversharp, I have to say it was quite disappointing, although not having been around at the time maybe I'm overthinking things...

...or maybe I'm not-mechanical pencils were probably just as boring a prize back then as they would be today!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Dive Right In

Time traveling back to the early days of TV today kids as we take look at Milton Berle, or more specifically, at an obscure Bowman novelty associated with him.

Berle got his start in vaudeville at a very young age and progressed through nightclubs and some forgettable movies in the early 1930's before parlaying a regular slot on the Rudy Vallee radio show into his own program in 1947.  A year later he got his break in televison on Texaco Star Theatre, where was named the permanent host in the fall of 1948, earning the well-deserved sobriquet Mr. Televison.  By 1952 he was the biggest TV star in the land and Bowman capitalized:

Uncle Miltie had artwork (fairly good in execution but occasionally crude in depiction) and a short joke printed on the inside of the white wrapper. Some jokes are not politically correct, which is no surprise as that's how things were back then and for several decades thereafter.

Jeff Allender's wonderful House of Checklists, lists 34 jokes (click through to his site for details) but I've found seven more, as noted below.  The set is obscure and examples are very hard to impossible to track down. I think the pack shown is one of only two known to exist and it would have sold for a penny at the time of issue.

Berle's show was on NBC and Bowman had a relationship with the broadcaster of course, issuing sets in 1952 and '53 showcasing the stars of the network.  Haelan Laboratories Inc. on the wrapper means Uncle Miltie could not have been issued prior to May of 1952 (the name change occurred on April 28) and I suspect it came out in the fall that year as the 1952-53 season kicked off.

The interior wrapper was where the action was, although the obverse design's pretty eye catching.  I can't actually find any issued examples to show but some original artwork was sold by Hake's about three years ago that certainly gives one the tenor of the set. First some paste-ups:

Told ya it could be politically incorrect!  Here is an original art piece from the same lot:

None of these are detailed over at the House of Checklists, so there's at least 41 different if all the pasteups became issued pieces (there is a pasteup of the diving board joke as well). I would think that's pretty close to a final number; Bazooka would often have 42 comics in a series and despite being a competitor's product it would not surprise me if that is the proper count for Uncle Miltie.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

A Likely Story

When I first set out on this series I didn't think it would take four full posts to cover all of the potential Tatoo subjects and I was right!  Friend o'the Archive Lonnie Cummins has sent me enough information on these sets (and some others) since my first two posts back in late September and early October that a review of prior images looks to be in order and an eventual fifth post will surely follow at some distant point.  This serves as a reminder that my more current posts on a topic are more correct and precise as this blog is often a sounding board for the anechoic nebula rotating in my brain and my musings get refined when more information comes in  But I digress......

I mapped out all of the possible original Tatoo subjects that got sucked into 1981's 24 Tattoo set last time out and ended up with a list of 80 possibilities when I started drafting this week's entry; thanks to Lonnie's sleuthing a handful now appear to have been included in some of the four Popeye Tattoo sets issued by Topps from 1958-66 but having said that, I can't rule out their origins in the original 1948-53 issues of Tatoo.  So this is even bigger than the mess I expected it to be by this point.

There could easily be a couple more or a few less than 80 as a handful do appear to be from 1968's 21 Tattoos (the first Topps larger sized issue in this vein) but from what I've seen of that1968 set, it mostly had its own designs.  A couple of designs I thought might be associated with Monster Tatoo from 1962 could be mixed in, or vice-versa.  It's really hard to tell with a number of these.

Some of my unknown subjects in the last post are probably from 21 Tattoos, again with possible exceptions either way as I've seen only three or four of the 16 sheets from '68.

I won't excise them from the 24 Tattoo sheets to show here (boy it's been a schlep-and-a-half already just eyeballing all of those subjects) and you can track the coordinates from the post last week.  However, since my dad was Navy veteran, I'll just show their emblem as an example of a likely original subject, with a "flip" showing the "applied" version:

Here are the 80 likely additional subjects.


I previously counted and (hopefully) confirmed 136 Tatoo subjects and associated artworks so this haul brings us to a potential 216-ish but that count remains fungible.  That fits the Topps Vault numbering scheme but I suspect more lurk out there and that the Vault has art from the other sets mixed into their numbering.  

I could easily see the Aces of Diamonds and Clubs, possibly George Washington, Abe Lincoln, U.S. Grant, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and Annie Oakley being available, plus several more generic subjects like cowboys and athletes.  Probably some American Flags would be in there too and it would not surprise me if more Confederate State flags popped up. Maybe there actually are 250 different across the "100" and "150" issues!  Eisenhower (as "Ike") does appear in at least one later set and I'm also going to have to unravel the Davy Crockett Tatoo subjects, although I am reasonably sure those stand on their own.

As mentioned previously, we'll never get to a true count but we can keep adding to the Tatoo checklist--and others--, so stay tuned!

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Sheets Getting Real

After a bit of a pause to gather more information, the deciphering of the aboriginal Topps Tatoo issues continues today, with a look well past the 1948-53 sets in order to determine what a checklist might look like. First, let's look at the full list of tatoo/tattoo issues that Topps came out with in order to determine a potential universe of subjects (self-contained gum tab wrappers unless indicated):
  • 1948 Tatoo
  • 1949 Tatoo
  • 1953 Tatoo
  • 1955 Davy Crockett Tatoo
  • 1957 Popeye Tattoo
  • 1958 Popeye "New Series" Tattoo
  • 1959 Woody Woodpecker Tatoo
  • 1960 Popeye Mystery Color Tattoo
  • 1960 Magic Tatoo
  • 1960 Baseball Tattoo 
  • 1961 Superman Tattoo
  • 1962 Monster Tatoo (of relevance)
  • 1963 Astroboy Tattoo
  • 1963 Walt Disney Character Tattoo
  • 1964 Baseball Photo Tattoo
  • 1965 Tom & Jerry Tattoo
  • 1966 Mighty Mouse And His Pals Tattoo
  • 1966 Popeye Tattoo (commodity code confirms date for this and subsequent issues)
  • 1967 Comic Book Tattoo
  • 1967 Dr. Doolittle Tattoo
  • 1968 21 Tattoos (folded sheet/accordion hybrid)
  • 1969 Archie Tattoo (accordion style)
  • 1970 Bugs Bunny Tattoo (accordion style)
  • 1971 Baseball Tattoo (accordion style)
  • 1971 TV Cartoon Tattoos (accordion style)
  • 1973 Wacky Packages Tattoo
  • 1975 Bugs Bunny Road Runner Tattoos (stick gum wrapper)
  • 1975 Monster Tattoo
  • 1981 24 Tattoos (folded sheet/accordion hybrid)
Take some of those dates with a little salt but that's pretty much a continuous run from 1948 through 1975 (in fact it's an average of exactly one set per year) that looks to have finally ended only when it was not possible to sell such a product for two cents (such pricing starting with Wacky Packages Tattoo) or a nickel (accordion and hybrid styles) anymore.  Topps went to a 25 cent package for the much bigger 24 Tattoos in 1981 and then issued many more tattoo sets thereafter with the higher price points apparently finding a sweet spot that solved the 1970's post oil crisis profit problem. Anyhoo....

One thing that is not clear to me is the origin of the dating of the 1953 Tatoo set. The 1948 set is documented in Topps sales and advertising literature and the 1949 set is as well (to a degree).  But I've never found anything to date the 1953's and it may be as simple as one of the early hobby publications reported on these and I just haven't stumbled across the reference.  I also think it's possible that there was something of a continuous run of these little novelties from 1948-54 or so, than is described in hobby literature then and now. Why wouldn't you keep a cheaply produced novelty like Tatoo in production during the baby boom?

A generic, unlicensed Davy Crockett Tatoo came around in 1955 and then Popeye caught up with the cartoons that had been packaged up for TV in the fall of 1956 some time in '57. This began an impressive run of tattoos featuring everybody's Spinach guzzling sailor, with Topps issuing three distinct sets under a licensing deal with King Features Syndicate (KFS). Then new, made-for-TV Popeye cartoons debuted in 1960 and Topps moved on as a new licensing deal was probably needed because of the newly created cartoons. They certainly went all in on licensed comic and animation themed tattoos once they tasted the profits Popeye generated.

They did revisit Popeye in 1966 with a new (or possibly reissued) tattoo set in the wake of a 1965 re-syndication that was by all accounts, a massive televison success.  When it comes to tattoo issues though, the Baseball issues of 1960 and 1964 reign supreme with collectors, as does 1962's Monster Tatoo, although the latter does not seem to have been all that popular when issued. What Monster Tattoo has going for it is fabulous Jack Davis artwork-artwork so good it joined a host of old Tatoo images in 1981's 24 Tattoos. The 1968 21 Tattoos issue also reused a bunch but also had new designs.  So far, I've checked only two of the sixteen 21 Tatoos sheets but the designs match up with the original Tatoo subjects

24 Tattoos cost a quarter per pack, for which you got a sheet of 24 tattoos. With 12 sheets that made 288 impressions and almost all of them were culled from either Tatoo or the Monster Tatoo sets. I think this is why some of the Topps Vault numbering on original art extends into the 200's. I'm going to feature all 12 sheets here, so be warned!

I'll need a matrix reference system to go through all of this and it's a little tricky as there are some tattoos that are half the size of the others and several that repeat across the sheets (I'll sort those out in a recap at the end).  For Sheet #1, it would look like this and it's worth noting all sheets have the same array:

1 Top Top
Bottom Bottom
2 Top Top
Bottom Bottom
3 Top Top
Bottom Bottom
4 Top Top
Bottom Bottom

So on Sheet #1, below, 1A would be the monster in the upper left corner, whereas 1B Top is Uncle Sam. Each master sheet has 8 large tattoos and 16 small ones. I'll take each sheet one-by-one and try to determine:
  • Repeat Tatoo subjects
  • Likely Repeat Tatoo subjects (based upon their design) highlighted in green
  • Known Art subjects (without confirmed Tatoo) including Benjamin's illos.
  • Repeat Monster Tatoo subjects
  • Unknown subjects
I'd say the top three categories are all at least potentially "original" Tatoo-worthy; the first obviously is, with subjects from the second and third categories remaining to be confirmed as originals. Off we go with the first sheet:


9 Repeat Tatoo Subjects: 1B Top, 1C, 1D Bottom, 2A, 2C Top, 2D, 4A, 4B Bottom, 4D
8 Likely Repeats: 2B Top, 2C Bottom, 3A, 3B Top, 3B Bottom, 3C Bottom, 4C Top, 4C Bottom
1 Known Art Subject: 2B Bottom
6 Repeat Monster Tatoo subjects: 1A, 1B Bottom, 1D Top, 3C Top, 3D, 4B Top

You will see immediately on Sheet 2 that subjects within this set repeat as well (the Flying Saucer is in slot 4 D bottom above and 2A below).


4 Repeat Tatoo Subjects: 1A, 2A, 2D, 4B Top
11 Likely Repeats: 1B Top, 1D Top, 2B Top, 2C Bottom, 3A, 3B Bottom, 3C Top, 3C Bottom, 4A, 4B Bottom, 4D
1 Known Art Subject: 1C
7 Repeat Monster Tatoo subjects: 1B Bottom, 2B Bottom, 2C Top, 3B Top, 3D, 4C Top, 4C Bottom
1 Unknown: 1D Bottom

NB: 2B (Strongman) seems to be taken from the display box/canister art for Tatoo, while 4D (Porpoise with Compass) seems to match a very badly abused and washed out Tatoo I've seen on eBay.


4 Repeat Tatoo Subjects: 2A, 2C Bottom, 2D (seen but not scanned on Tatoo), 3C Bottom
12 Likely Repeats: 1B Top, 1B Bottom, 1C, 1D Top, 1D Bottom, 2B Top, 2B Bottom, 3B Bottom, 4A, 4B Top, 4C Bottom, 4D
1 Known Art Subjects: 3A
7 Repeat Monster Tatoo subjects: A1, 2C Top, 3B Top, 3C Top, 3D, 4B Bottom, 4C Top


7 Repeat Tatoo Subjects: 1A, 1D Top, 2A, 3A (just missing tethers here), 3D, 4B Top, 4C Bottom
6 Likely Repeats:  2C Top, 2C Bottom, 3B Bottom, 4A, 4B Bottom, 4C Top
10 Repeat Monster Tatoo subjects: 1B Top, 1C, 1D Bottom, 2B Top, 2B Bottom, 2D, 3B Top, 3C Top, 3C Bottom, 4D
1 Unknown: 1B


4 Repeat Tatoo Subjects: 1B Bottom, 2A, 3A, 4A
11 Likely Repeats: 1C, 1D Top, 1D Bottom,  2C Top, 2C Bottom, 2D, 3B Top, 3B Bottom, 3D (seen but not scanned on Tatoo), 4B Top, 4D
9 Repeat Monster Tatoo subjects: 1A, 1B Top, 2B Top, 2B Bottom, 3C Top, 3C Bottom, 4B Bottom, 4C Top, 4C Bottom


 Repeat Tatoo Subjects: 1A , 1D Top, 3B Top
12 Likely Repeats: 1B Top, 1B Bottom, 2A, 2B Top, 2B Bottom, 2C Top, 3A, 3C Top, 3C Bottom, 3D. 4B Top, 4C Top
1 Known Art Subject: 4A
8 Repeat Monster Tatoo subjects: 1C, 1D Bottom, 2C Bottom, 2D, 3B Bottom, 4B Bottom, 4C Bottom, 4D


3 Repeat Tatoo Subjects: 2B Top, 2C Bottom, 3C Bottom
13 Likely Repeats: 1A, 1B Bottom, 1C, 1D Top, 2A, 2B Bottom, 3A, 3B Top, 3C Top, 3D, 4A, 4B Top, 4C Bottom, 4D
7 Repeat Monster Tatoo subjects: 1B Top, 2C Top, 2D, 3A Top, 4B Bottom, 4C Top, 4D
1 Unknown: 1D Bottom


9 Repeat Tatoo Subjects: 1C, 1D Bottom, 2B Bottom, 2C Bottom, 3B Top, 3B Bottom, 3C Top, 3C Bottom, 3D
7 Likely Repeats: 1B Bottom, 2A, 2B Top, 2C Top, 2D, 4B Bottom, 4C Bottom
8 Repeat Monster Tatoo subjects: 1A, 1B Top, 1D Top, 3A, 4A, 4B Top, 4C Top, 4D


13 Likely Repeats: 1B Top, 1C, 1D Top, 2A, 2B Top, 2C Bottom, 3A, 3B Top, 3C Top, 3D, 4B Top, 4B Bottom, 4D
10 Repeat Monster Tatoo subjects: 1A, 1 B Bottom, 2B Bottom, 2C Top, 2D, 3B Bottom, 3C Bottom, 4A (repeats, same as 2C Top), 4C Top, 4C Bottom
1 Unknown: 1D Bottom


10 Repeat Tatoo Subjects: 1A, 1C, 1D Bottom, 2A, 2B Top (without clouds here), 3B Top (without musical notes here), 3B Bottom, 3B Top, 3D, 4C Top
6 Likely Repeats: 1B Top, 2C Bottom, 2D, 3C Bottom, 4B Bottom, 4D
1 Known Art Subject: 2C Top
6 Repeat Monster Tatoo subjects: 1B Bottom, 1D Top, 2B Bottom, 4A, 4B Top, 4C Bottom
1 Unknown: 3A


10 Repeat Tatoo Subjects: 1B Top, 1D Top, 2A, 2B Top (without "motion lines" here), 3A, 3B Top, 3C Bottom, 3D, 4A, 4B Top
6 Likely Repeats: 1A, 2B Bottom, 2C Top, 2D, 3B Bottom, 4C Top
1 Known Art Subject: 2B Top,
Repeat Monster Tatoo subjects: 1C, 1D Bottom, 2C Bottom, 3C Top, 4B Bottom, 4C Bottom, 4D


5 Repeat Tatoo Subjects: 2A, 2C Bottom (without "motion lines" here), 3C Top, 4A (mirrored here), 4 C Bottom (without background here)
10 Likely Repeats: 1A, 1B Bottom, 1C, 1D Top, 1D Bottom, 2C Top, 3A, 3D, 4B Top, 4D
8 Repeat Monster Tatoo subjects: 1B Top, 2B Top, 2B Bottom, 2D, 2B Bottom, 2C Bottom, 4B Bottom, 4C Top
1 Unknown: 3B Top (could be a Monster Tatoo)


Now for the fun part.  The "likely subjects" that were in the original Tatoo issues are pretty numerous.  I could be off on a couple I have assigned to Monster Tatoo (all noted here in what I believe is a set of 96 but there are hardly any scans at that site) and the chance any subject I have identified as "unknown" could be in either Tatoo, Monster Tatoo or just culled from something more obscure (Sputnik for example could be from 21 Tattoos), is high. One or two gun or cowboy-themed subjects could be from the extremely obscure Davy Crockett Tatoos but after they issued that rare set the Topps tattoo issues are almost all licensed products (Davy was generic) and I doubt any of those were repeated here.

What we are left with then are the likely original issue Tatoos where I can't find a corresponding single.  I doubt we'll ever truly know how many subjects were created originally and there is no way to tell what the "official" set counts mean.  100 + 100 + 150 = a potential universe of 350 subjects but we know Topps repeated some of those, reissuing them in larger sizes as they went along through 1953 or thereabouts.  Of course the bottom number is theoretically 150 but I'd say the true answer lies in between.

I'll break this all down in the final post in this series, creating a checklist of possible Tatoos that should at least show a nodding acquaintance to fact.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Patching Things Up

Well I'm getting closer to finishing off the Tatoo study that commenced back at the end of September but enough new material has rolled in that I am pushing that by a week or two.  This week, another two sets that were printed as "transferrables" will be under the ol' 'scope instead.

In 1964 (I think) a set of 24 Military Emblems were included in party boxes of Bazooka. These were actually issued in panels of two and are very hard to find:

These were iron ons and they were printed on somewhat brittle paper.  If separated, they would each measure approximately 2 1/2" x 3 " but the cuts on these are horrible so any idea of precision is laughable. The emblems above are for the 63rd Army Division and 2nd Marine Division, respectively.  I am not even remotely conversant on the military regalia of the United States Armed Forces but thanks to this handy back-of-box checklist, it's easy to tell:

No Navy patches, which is kind of odd. I'm going to provide a matrix of this checklist, which will be needed momentarily:

  A B C D E F G H

The 63rd Army Division emblem would then be at the B3 coordinate.

The box front looked like so.  I've got a rough dating on 1964 and am working to refine that.

Friend o'the Archive Lonnie Cummins sent me an uncut sheet of what I thought (as did he initially) were the Bazooka emblems:

Well I was four emblems in when I realized not all of the Bazooka iron-ons were on the sheet and that there was no "topper" on those, although at first I was horrified to think my type example had been beheaded! In fact, only nine of the '64 Military Emblems were on the sheet. Using the matrix, the coordinates shook out like this: A1, B3, C1, C2, C3, E2, F3 and H2.  That left 15 and I fleetingly thought another batch of 24 might have been issued by Topps.  However, Lonnie and I apparently realized at about the same time that something was amiss and sure enough, Lonnie confirmed the sheet was actually displaying the 1965 Battle Cloth Emblems inserts.  Here's one now:

These are smaller than the Bazooka emblems and measure 2" x 3 1/4", with the topper taking up 3/4" of the real estate.  Still no Navy emblems, those Shorin's were all drafted as doughboys back in 1917-18!  As you can see these were proto-cloth stickers. Topps vacillated on self-stick vs. water-activated  stickers for several years and I suspect it was mostly due how it impacted the overall cost of a particular set, noting sometimes the self-stick ("pressure sensitive") stock wasn't always available.

Despite no relevant content-Happy Hallowe'en to you all!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

What Year Is it?

We'll be tuning the WABAC machine to the time of polyester and mutton chops today kids but I'm not sure of the exact coordinates!

Two closely linked sets that were seemingly tested by Topps in 1973 are today's quarry. I speak of Baseball Comic Bubble Gum and Baseball Pin-Ups, two sets that I can't believe have never addressed here. And hold on to the word "seemingly" for now.

The Comics are quite nice and were actually the underside of this wrapper:

I think they look really sharp:

These measure 4 5/8" x 3 7/16" as do the Pin-Ups.  If you've never seen one in person I would say the Comics are a little bigger than you would expect and the Pin-Ups similarly smaller. They were essentially wrapping a big stick of gum as envisioned:

The airbrushed cap and references to Atlanta instead of the Braves were intended to be that way as I believe Topps was trying to see if they could circumvent Major League Baseball Promotions Corporation licensing fees by eliminating team logos.  Epic fail, although they did this with Football and Basketball products for years.

Here's Henry in decidedly more 70's style duds than he wore for the comic:

Topps liked Johnny Bench as their wrapper mascot!

Did you notice the "T" codes?  T-93-A-5 for the Comics and T-93-B-5 for the Pin-Ups. This is the only Topps test issue where two products shared a product code (the "93").  Now here's the thing-  Friend o'the Archive Lonnie Cummins has been researching these T codes for some time and found some weirdness when it comes to these two sets.

Topps started using T codes for test issues in 1973, with the first such dubbing was used for Emergency/Adam-12. They run consecutively and by 1980 were into the 120's.  It's therefore possible to track the date of issue with some precision but the problem is the 93 code puts them squarely in.....1977!

The two sets were clearly designed for 1973 release though.  We can tell thanks to Mike Epstein, who was a Texas Ranger the first part of the 1973 campaign, having been traded there by Oakland after the 1972 season ended. Ironically he had been a Senator through the beginning of 1971 when he got sent to the A's (fun fact, he won a ring but was 0 for 16 in the '72 World Series) but more importantly to this discussion, was only a Ranger until May 20, 1973 when he was traded to the Angels. He's the only potential multi-team player in the whole set and him being on the Texas squad fits perfectly with a one player per team scheme. Check it out:

So what happened?  Well, there's a couple of theories, one mine and one Lonnie's.  Mine postulates it's possible Topps transposed 39 for 93 and intriguingly Lonnie has yet to find the 39 code. However, the tests included many straight confectionery items as well, so tracking is difficult and certainly even more so with non-novelty products.  Lonnie though, thinks they could have been tested twice.  Once in 1973, having been green-lighted in 1972 and planned for release just before Emergency/Adam-12. The remaining supply was then, he posits, lost in the March 30, 1975 Card Collectors Company fire.  He then surmises they were actually reissued in 1977. His research shows the copyright and ingredients lists all match 1973's and not 1977's. Of course, 1977 was an expansion year so why would Topps issue 24 subjects and not 26? Some guys were out of MLB by then as well and many had changed teams. So there's no 100% rock solid evidence either way.

PSA pops are interesting for these two sets.  There are 160 Comics in their report, with a low of 5 and a high of 11 (Willie Davis) examples being recorded.  There are over twice as many Pin-Ups graded though at 348, ranging from 10-19 examples (Aaron has the most).  Those are definitely test issue levels for the era. 

Well, I don't really know if we'll ever figure it out but can say I track the first appearance of all Topps test issues in The Trader Speaks and cannot find any references to either set through the end of the magazine's run in the 1980's, which is just strange. There's not even agreement in the hobby as to whether they were actually issued or not but the consensus leans toward no but with a nod to them being packaged and oh-so-close. These two sets really are a mystery in many ways.

What's not a mystery is the checklist, which is the same for both sets.  I count 14 Hall of Famers! I've used the full team names, electing to thumb my nose at the (now defunct) MLBPC: