Saturday, August 27, 2022

AC See Ya!

No, not Atlantic City, where I opted out of this year's National Sports Collectors Convention but rather the American Card Catalog. Jefferson Burdick's groundbreaking and indispensable guide to the hobby of collecting trading cards and other similar items, first published in 1939 as The United States Card Collectors Catalog (USCCC) and intended to be updated and reissued every seven years.  Burdick started writing about the guide in 1938 in the Card Collectors Bulletin (CCB), his early hobby publication, in the mid 1930's after using the 'zine as a resource for set checklists, finds and other hobby news since early 1937, after branching out from a couple of years of similar content in a column run by Hobbies magazine. The mid-30's were essentially the start of what we now refer to as the organized hobby, although it would be several decades before it really got going and identifiable dealers came into the fray.

Loose-leafed for 1939, the USCCC was designed to allow the insertion of annual updates, which were issued through 1942 (with a scant one-pager in 1943) until the war precluded any additional leaves being sold in 1944 or 1945. While bareboned and lacking individual checklists, the catalog was still the most relaible (and essentially only) guide available and started the classification system many old time (and some newer) hobbyists still use. In addition, it had rudimentary pricing, another valuable feature. George Vrechek has written an excellent overview of all this, and many other Burdick related subjects over at the Old Baseball site, which I urge you to read if this at all interests you.

Here is the ur-catalog:

Note the punch holes.  The Card Collectors Bulletins could also be inserted into the book as Burdick issued them with holes punched out.

In 1946, renamed and mostly rewritten with letters added to what was strictly a numbering scheme prior, a staple-bound soft cover American Card Catalog was offered by Burdick without an option to add updates directly to the book; you can see bits and pieces of it over at Net54baseball, where David Kathman has written and posted extensively on this volume. The 1939 book and to a slightly lesser degree the 1946 are very collectible and can bring some big prices, the former being printed in edition of only 500 and apparently not selling through until 1945. Here she is, courtesy of REA:


I believe those holes were punched "after market" as Burdick had major issues getting the books punched originally. The fasteners must have done a number on things as well.

This was followed by a more robust ACC in in 1953, that featured Woody Gelman as one of its editors then a 1956, hard-to-find reprint, likely created to raise some additional cash and update the buy and sell ads in the back of the book.   This is the 1953 cover:

The '56 reprint had a more orange cover and sold for $2.50, a half-dollar more than the 1953 edition:

(Courtesy REA)

And this the 1960, the final, updated ACC, in hardback:

Burdick had by then turned over the tracking of updates to Buck Barker, who published regular and extensive updates in the CCB after this book came outas he worked on mounting his massive collection for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Burdick died in 1963 and Gelman was supposed to issue a 1967 guide with updated information but despite Barker's massive efforts at cataloguing the tsunami of issues that had been unleashed since the mid 50's, it didn't come out, for reasons that have never been determined.  

Gelman did put out a soft cover, reprinted 1960 edition though in '67 and with, I think, new ads:

Barker's updates continued until early 1972 and thankfully were collected in a hard-to-find, authorized  pamphlet issued by Chris Benjamin in 1990 (some were assembled in a similar, likely bootleg, fashion by Ed Broder in the early 70's):


Barker attempted to revamp the listings for some of the more current issues toward the end of the Sixties but without a full book, this innovative attempt at revision never took within the hobby, but the Catalog was always a metamorphic; some classifications were revised every seven years and a chunk of the ones we know today, especially for Topps and Bowman, were only locked in via the 1960 book.  Reissues of the 1960 guide were put out by Richard Gelman via Woody's old Nostalgia Press imprint in 1988 and again a year later (and/or possibly a year earlier as I can't cipher it right now) as Card Collectors Company used the ad space in back for their current catalog .  Here's my 1988, which I use all the time:

There's a nice Woody Gelman connection here but the classification changes are my real quarry.  I'll be looking at the progression of the Topps and Bowman issues from 1953 and through Buck Barker's updates next time out.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Banners Day

BFF o'the Archive Jeff Shepherd auctioned off a couple of old Bazooka Point of Sale banners recently and while I didn't bid, thanks to the overflowing archives here, they were two things of beauty to be sure.

First up, for the Fall 1949 launch of the penny packs of Bazooka ("tabs" in the confectioner's parlance), Topps created a wonderful banner with the original Bazooka Joe shown, as he often was, blowing a bubble containing the pack.  Given the year and the fact there was a contest to win a pocket knife, it was most likely run by Sy Berger, who was in charge of such things back then.  10,000 knives was likely a number they knew would never be reached as 100 comics was a whole lotta gum packs.

Topps used these knives for premiums over many years and they resemble (or more likely, are) the ones used by the U.S. Military during the war and issued for many years after with bespoke nameplates; the Boy Scouts were one such organization that did that..  Berger had connections for surplus goods, so this all ties in nicely with what I know about such things.

The banner is a beauty:

Jumping forward ten years, 1959 brought a really colorful banner detailing the premium pennants Bazooka was pushing at the time (and for another ten years at least).  Five Bazooka wrappers was a much more manageable amount than the 100 required a decade earlier:

That September 15, 1959 deadline makes me think this banner debuted when the 1959 Major League season opened in April.  Why Blony didn't get more than a passing mention in the copy is beyond me,

Mail in offers were useful for Topps as they could do market research based upon the origins of the redemption requests.  With a product launch in 1949 and the two big league west coast team moves very recent in memory - and notions of expansion more than hot rumors in 1959 - these were both marketing and sales tools.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Down Mexico Way

Yonks ago I featured an obscure set of snap-together plastic molded cars marketed by Topps with an even more obscure set of cards. Issued in 1970, Mini Model Cars was a set manufactured elsewhere and, as it turns out, not necessarily for Topps.  

Here is my own Mini Model Car:

And here is one described as a Mexican cereal in-pack premium:

It's clearly from the same mold and the "22" hood stamp matches; mine may be missing one little piece, or not (hard to tell as it looks undisturbed).  Here's another, different model from the world of cereal:

I've seen some in pastel colors but I think they are modern repros.

Well some recent Facebook posts and eBay auctions may have possibly uncovered who produced these - an outfit called Tinykins.  Tinykins was a Marx Toys brand in the 1960's that was the Funko of its day in a way, issuing sets like this one featuring the Flintstones and other Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters, which I found over at the Hanna-Barberawiki site:

Yeah, you want that bad, I know I do!

But I'm not sure it's the same brand used for the cards but some auction listings reference Tinykins Formula One racers and some also mention 1971 as the year of issue.  I'd feel better if I could find a cereal box image advertising them but some cars are offered by sellers in Mexico.  However, it's very much worth noting Quaker Oats bought Marx Toys in 1972. For now, this is where things stand.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

No Box Left Behind

After last week's look at the obverse surprise photo some Bazooka boxes carried in the mid 60's (and 1971), I thought it best to close the circle and also show boxes from the years with package design cards of players from various sports but with no secondary photo on the box front (or end flap); I'll tackle non-sports boxes (and some with sports-related content) at some later date but they are really hard to pin down. This installment covers the years 1959 to 1971 not addressed last week in my post on the "extra" images used.  As a reminder, these bonus "front of the box" photos were as follows:

1963 - Babe Ruth

1964 - Sandy Koufax & Mickey Mantle (both on end flap)

1965 - Mickey Mantle

1966 - Sandy Koufax

1967 - Mickey Mantle

1969 - Babe Ruth

1970 - Babe Ruth (reissued box design)

1971 - Johnny Bench

The Koufax and Mantle photos never changed from year to year, while the Ruth did, aging in reverse!

I also included the 1968 box last time out despite no additional photo appearing thereon.  It had a "Special Feature" splash hawking "Tips From Baseball Stars on How to Play Better Baseball" instead. These tips are known as Tipps from the Topps and featured a small, inset photo on each "Tipp" which I have covered previously as well.

When we go back to the aboriginal Bazooka set, it was a one subject affair, with a gorgeous card taking up most of the box back.  These were issued for both baseball and football and might be the nicest things Topps ever produced.  This is the first run 1959 Baseball box, front and back. You can see how the original Bazooka Joe is shown blowing a bubble that turns into a window on the contents, which was protected by see-thru cello, both courtesy of Robert Edward Auctions:

So the splash for the set was actually located below the card! Note how it mentions "9 All-Star Player Cards" as the first release had, yup, 9 subjects. The little illustrations on the splash are generic.

A second wave of cards followed, with 14 players added.  It's possible Hank Aaron was printed with both runs as his name can be found in yellow or white but it's not clear if he was a reissue or if a correction was made to the first run of 9 cards (the name in yellow matches the rest of the set). It's worth noting too that Bazooka usually issued both 20 and 25 count boxes, as you can see above and below. This might explain the white/yellow Aaron variations, or it might not.

For the second batch of 14, Topps changed the box colors and the splash.  This example of Jensen shows the white to yellow switcheroo and a subtle change to the back splash, i.e. "nein on the 9":

Topps then went for a Football set in the fall, with equally stunning results.  The box front is the same as that used for Baseball while the reverse splash is changed to reflect the new sport:

18 subjects were included and Chuck Conerly is shown with either the Colts (an error, he never played for them) or the Giants, indicating at least two press runs, possibly split between the 20 and 25 counts but these are among the rarest boxes imaginable so it may never be determined. More on Conerly can be found over at Post War Cards, which is a really wonderful site, kinda like here but covering a wider range of producers.

Topps killed off the Bazooka Football cards after 1959 and they would not reappear until 1971. Baseball on the other glove, settled into a nice three-players-per-panel groove thereafter.  Here's the 1960 box front, with the cards finally getting some attention:

You will note the old bubble blowing Bazooka Joe is gone, as Topps went for the Moms with the Parents Magazine seal, which they used on and off over the years on many products, likely dependent upon their annual advertising budget.

1961 brought white back to the design, which was unchanged otherwise.  It was also used in 1962:

This now brings us to the 1971 Football set. Those all-American kids from the Baseball boxes have  been supplanted by a small but enthusiastic marching band, perhaps meant to conjure up an image of halftime (I'm old enough to remember halftime marching bands at NFL games) since no bonus player was shown on the splash:

There was a 1971 O-Pee-Chee Canadian Football release but's ultra-rare and may not have seen the retail light of day.  No box front has been seen but it probably doesn't resemble this only-somewhat-less-difficult OPC Hockey box from '71, courtesy of Bobby Burrell:

Have fun trying to find one of those!

You can still find boxes of Bazooka but it just isn't the same anymore.