Saturday, October 14, 2023

Howdy Pardner

A long, long time ago, 1993 to be exact, I first read about the possibility of a paper version of the five cent wrapper Topps used for Round-Up, their 80 card Western themed set from 1956. Chris Benjamin, in the set description contained in his Sport Americana Price Guide to the Non-Sports Cards 1930-1960, mentioned it along with a note that the five cent retail wrapper featured "fragile layered cellophane" in red, with accented blues and whites."  It also mentions a five cent paper wrapper has been seen. I've had a crummy scan of the paper version for years but a newer scan has popped up and it's got far better resolution than the old one:

There's a scan of the back as well:

As it turns out, it's the same wrapper in both my scans, old and new.  I'm now leaning toward this being an internal production piece, or something like it, given the tape remnants and Benjamin's comments about a cello wrapper being used to market the set. I'm not sure how this paper version would have been used to retail the set by Topps as they needed sanitary packaging given the bubble gum that rode along.  It makes some sense to me that they created it in order to envision how to manufacture the cello version. It's also worth noting Benjamin's comment on the paper wrapper appears to refer to a singular piece.

You cab kind of see the cello being stretched on this unopened nickel pack; those striations generally don't generally pop up on wax packs like that from what I've seen:

Ok, to confound things a little more, some of the five cent wrappers look like they could be wax:

Topps has "gone cello" with other sets over the years where a traditional wax wrapper was used otherwise, so maybe that's what is going on here.  No matter, it's intriguing and adds to the mystery a little.

Now, are there any other examples known of the paper wrapper out there?  I suspect there would have bene more than one of these if used internally.

Meanwhile, check out this May 1957 newspaper ad showing how Topps burned off overstock of the set:

Looks like a penny pack was included with every 8-pack of wieners! Here's what the one-centers looked like-it's kind of weird that the overall motif of red wasn't carried over:

Round-Up may have been the last Giant Size set before Topps switched to the "standard" card size ushered in with Elvis Presley. I think either it or the 1956 Football set holds that distinction.

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