Saturday, September 4, 2021

Pretty Fly (For A Tighty-Whitey Guy)

Robert Edward Auctions, as I am sure you all know, is home to some wondrous offerings each and every time they unleash a catalog on the world.  Their recently concluded August auction was no exception.

While Topps test issues ebb and flow, Mantles tick up and Wagner's continue to go for unimaginable sums, there's usually a lot or two with things I've never seen before. This time out it was a cardboard Topps Gum display, mostly still full of product and not round like their canisters nor made of bakelite like their more durable displays. I didn't bid (and the lot went for some relatively big bucks) but boy was I tempted.  Check it out:

I suspect Pepsin ended up stranded in some of those displays, long after the other flavors ran out!

So here's the thing-most of the New York City wrappers I am familiar with had a very prosaic slogan ("No cost has been spared in giving this wholesome and delightful gum every quality that would add to your enjoyment") in the little slug on back whereas these say "Only Natural Flavors".  They switched to a Brooklyn, New York wrapper later in '39  (I think, it could have been the other way around or both co-existed for some reason) and then all the 1946's I have seen just say Brooklyn.  So this is something uncommon and REA advises they can't see any dates on the wrappers.

These came in a sleeve (also undated) with a Fruit of the Loom hanky (!) and ten free tabs:

Seems weird right?  Well, if my hunch is right these gum tabs, display and box hail from 1942 as there are metal and cardboard canisters out there with that copyright date.  A handkerchief in 1942, during World War 2, was probably a little bit of a bigger deal than it is now and some of the sales premiums Topps offered were aimed at "Mrs. Retailer" so it does make some sense. The question that remains uanswered though is-are they, or any wrapper at all, available with Topps Gum, coprighted 1942?

Check out another wartime sales premium item, 1/2 a Topps Certificate with a "U.S. Victory Stamps" tear off tab:

Look at the offered prizes, hot items in some quarters then, I'm sure:

It's pretty amazing Topps could offer all of this with a war raging and rationing occurring but even more astounding to me is this little detail:

At some point during the war, or just after, Topps advertised a return to "Natural Flavors" but I'm not really sure when that occurred now. This is all getting curiouser and curioser! It seems like most certificates started coming out approximately 18 months prior to the expiration date (in this case September 30, 1945), so at least through 1943 it seems there were still no artificial flavors to be found in your standard Topps chew.

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