Saturday, May 2, 2020

A Rosen By Any Other Name

Some very old (and old school) hobby catalogs have crossed my threshold recently, including a special one from Sam Rosen, who was Woody Gelman's Stepfather and started selling baseball cards as a retirement project prodded on by his Stepson.  Kind of handy to have a Stepson who worked for Topps if you were selling cards, right?

Sam issued a series of catalogs from (I believe) mid-1954 on and I suspect did fulfillment for the Trading Card Guild (note the initials) brand that was used by Topps to market ten cent cello packs with no gum, both a ploy necessary I'm sure to stave off legal action with Topps reselling their overstock and returns. I also believe the Guild fulfilled individual orders for various promotions run by Topps in those early years of card production.

This thread on www.net54baseball has some great old hobby catalogs shown and discussed within and there is some really nice Sam Rosen stuff in the mix. You will note, if you click through, a reference to 1958 catalog inserts from Rosen, specifically the 1956 Baseball Buttons Topps had pulled the plug on before one-third of all the ninety promised pins had been produced.  I recently obtained a single page sheet from Rosen detailing the set, which also served as a checklist, a hard to find resource for a lot of issues at the time:

The limited quantity of complete sets may be the result of three buttons issued in lesser quantities than the other 57: Chuck Diering, Hector Lopez and Chuck Stobbs. All three were bottom row subjects and being an edge subject  with Topps usually led to some production issues.  But I digress.

Sam Rosen died suddenly on New Year's Eve in 1958 and Woody Gelman took over the company, dubbing it the Card Collectors Company (CCC) and moving HQ from Midtown Manhattan to Franklin Square, Long Island. P.O. Box 293 was likely just that as Woody lived the next town over in Malverne and wouldn't want to give up his home's location.

In March of 1959 Gelman issued CCC catalog #10, picking up some kind of numbering scheme I cannot decipher from Sam Rosen (who was up to #12 well before 1958) and you will note the quick message at the top of the first page referencing the predecessor company:

Well, a look at page three shows that those limited sets of Baseball Buttons were holding on, albeit at higher prices than 1958's:

The 1960 CCC catalog #11 just had a line item for sets and singles (with unchanged pricing) and by catalog #12 from 1961 there were no more Baseball Buttons on offer, so I guess Woody finally dumped them all.  I would think a lot of the high grade examples in the hobby came from Rosen and Gelman.

Speaking of CCC catalog #12, they were well ahead of the Topps Vault and Guernsey's as there were "Topops" spot art cartoons being offered for a buck apiece, or three for $2.50, which was a steal considering that is some prime Jack Davis artwork being featured:

That's from McCovey's 1960 All Star card by the way, although it's flipped, no doubt because Willie batted left. I'm not sure why they didn't portray him as an African-American but there's no guarantee the batter in the cartoon was originally drawn to caricature Stretch.

Big Mac could really rake, huh?

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