Saturday, August 11, 2018

Linky Dinky

OK campers, lazy hazy days of summer are here and I am nothing if not the former at the moment.  So I thought I'd just cobble together a bunch of interesting links for you all.  I'll be back to the regular posts next week-get out there and enjoy the sunshine while you can!

I don't often highlight active auctions but sometimes they are just too tasty to ignore. Friend o'the Archive Anthony Nex has an uncut 1955 Topps Baseball sheet up for auction on eBay (for reals).  Check it out:

Keith Olbermann's Baseball Nerd blog is dormant but still worthy of your attention.

K-E-Double L-Oh-Double Good....check out this Kellogg's 3-D card blog of awesomeness.

Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius-indeed!

A fairly new vintage Non-Sports blog with a fine pedigree can be found here.

Vintage Hockey Cards Report lives up to it's name.

Basketball Tartare anyone?  Among its many treasures, some of which relate to our favorite card company, it has a strip of the 1970-71 Topps Basketball short prints:

The funny thing is, I don't believe that sheet extract was necessarily from the Guernsey's auction!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Top Hat

I'm not sure exactly how many Topps All Star Rookie Awards trophies have popped up for auction over the years but it would surprise me if the total has hit double digits.  So it was noteworthy indeed when one was hammered down in a Hunt Auctions offering recently. The trophy in question belonged to Tommy Harper, who had a solid but relatively unspectacular career that spanned 14 seasons and started off quite well in CIncinnati.

He was an original Pilot, selected from Cleveland after a season there and was probably Seattle's best player. He made the move to Milwaukee and held best player distinction there as well before getting traded to Boston after the 1971 season in a massive ten player deal you don't see the likes of anymore.

Harper recently consigned a number of items from his playing days to Hunt and happily for us it included his 1963 trophy:

It's a really nice piece but the top hat is a real head-scratcher, isn't it? Described as being just under ten inches tall, it's had some small repair work done but looks remarkably well preserved.

Included in the lot was a photograph of the ten award winners for 1963:

Going left to right, front to back, that's  Gary Peters, Jimmie Hall, Pete Rose, Jesse Gonder and Harper rounding out the front. Rusty Staub, Al Weis, Pete Ward, Ray Culp and Vic Davalillo are mostly all smiles in back.

Here's Harper in 1964, with his card sporting the little trophy Topps usually added for the award winners:

I say "usually" because the left it off poor Jesse Gonder's '64 entry:

Totally uncool.

Before signing off, here's the cover of the 1963 Banquet Program, which is my favorite of the eight issued from 1959-66:

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Look What Just Popped Up

Good news everybody! I've managed to finally secure an example from a very elusive metamorphic Topps set, namely Pop-Ups. My records show they are attributed to 1971 but I am not at all sure about that.

Here is how one of these would have (mostly) looked as it emerged from its pack:

We'll get to the mechanics of it in a second.  Let's look at the back first, as it shows how these were clearly designed to be worn as a gag.  There were twelve in the series, so this is the last in line.

Now, about those instructions.  What you couldn't see then (and what is missing now) was a small rubber band that allowed the Pop-Up to, well, pop up.  When popped, you get this result:

That measures 7 3/16" tall when opened!  I assume there was some small variance among subjects but that's what I came up with. The width would be a constant 2 13/16".

The back of the pop up piece is unfinished cardboard:

It's a tough set and you can see why very few have survived; this was the first example I had ever seen.

The dating is a guess, there's no clue on the wrapper, which was drawn by Wally Wood, and that seems a little late for him at Topps. Indeed, the Wally Wood checklist I have shows his art being from 1968 but I do not know how accurate that is either. Certainly, 1968-1971 is when they came out though.

No help on the back, although Hong Kong is not that common on the "imported" Topps novelties.  Most of their packs that sold confections and /or cards were indicating Duryea, PA by 1971 but if an item was distributed by them, it was still Brooklyn:

Here's a gnarly looking box:

As with the wrapper, the bottom does not help with dating and I don't have any side panels in my scans:

Most of the tougher items on my Topps want list are types like this, or stickers, both things that would essentially be destroyed once played with or used.  So it goes.....

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Fold Over

The parade of hard-to-find Topps non-sports items continues unabated this summer. Today's topic: 1966 Topps Fold-a-roos, a super tough test issue that most collectors have never heard of.

Skip numbering from 1-36 indicates the test was partial (unissued nos: 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29) and the extreme lack of extant examples indicate it was unsuccessful. I've covered the set before, although as I explained in my prior post, it seems the date should be 1967 or later. 1966 is based upon the Topps COA's, these being sold by the Topps Vault, but they have been off on some of their dates before!

In case you don't remember, here is what an unfolded subject looks like:

Now that Topps Vault is selling production proofs of these, here is partof that Fold-a-roo, even though it's a proof:

The "We know someone who likes you" straight line would appear to apply to a gag that ends " because he's bats" so maybe these were cut wrong.  For fun, here's the gag, right side up (the straight line is "I really like you a lot...":

That was from an old Legendary Auction that seems to have had a mix of issued and unissued subjects.

Here's a couple more proofs:

Neat little set, tough little items! 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Get In The Groove

Further to some recent posts on the 1966 Topps Wacky Labels, a tough test set if there ever was one, Friend o'the Archive Jason Rhodes has sent along a well formed observation on a related set, namely 1969 Topps Groovy Stick Ons. Jason notes that, in true Topps tradition, subjects of the former set popped up in the latter three years later.

Groovy Stick Ons (GSO) were a fairly well distributed set I think.  While they were, of course, stickers--which led to pure destruction of the set back in the day, they seem to be somewhat available today and, unlike Wacky Labels, a full checklist is know, albeit one that is maddeningly imprecise, especially for those of us trying to tie the two sets together.

The basics on GSO are few but with a small twist. The product (72 in number, with multiple "apply moisture" stickers on each) first appeared in a five cent format in 1969:

Looks like it was a summer issue as the Duryea address appears-Topps switched from Brooklyn to Duryea for most wrapper indicia in mid-1969. However, there is also a ten cent variety,as this pack from Komodo Cards shows:

You can't see it but the commodity code is: 444-96-01-9 so it's also a 1969 issue. Topps was transitioning most products to 10 cents by the middle of 1969 but it's rare that a product had two price points in one year while in the otherwise same packaging.

The set looks like this:

You can see how the long, rectangular stickers look just like Wacky Labels! It's looks possible too that some of the smaller or odd-sized stickers reuse Wacky Labels themes. Jason's thought is that the GSO labels might yield the full Wacky Labels checklist, which is woefully incomplete, but it looks to me like there would be too many subjects given almost every number has at least one sticker that could be from that earlier set.

Now the other big problem is that the checklists for GSO all go by the first given name on each large sticker, so there's no extant list of all stickers out there.  Something to ponder, unless someone out there has a full checklist.  Anybody? Bueller?

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Before The Buttons

Friend o' the Archive Keith Olbermann recently passed along three very interesting and enlightening scans of some Topps mockup are related to the "1967" and "1968" Baseball Discs.  You will recall, dear reader that there were three "sets"of these "produced", two of MLB All-Stars and one solely of San Francisco Giants.  In reality I think the first two were, at least in the case of the All Stars, a series of proofs produced for a set that never saw the light of Sheepshead Bay.

The dating accepted by the hobby on these is suspect and my take is that the "1967" set was begun after the end of the regular season in '66 and then the "1968" set came around not too long after in 1967, probably updated for player selection. The SF Giants set I believe is more related to the Red Sox and Pirates Stickers that actually were sold to the public in 1967. What Mr. Olbermann has sent looks like mock up art for what would have been a series of Baseball Buttons.  Remember too, that in 1956 Topps released a set with that exact name, containing 60 subjects. Ten years later it must have looked ripe for revisitation.

Check it out:

OK, left to right we have Carlton Willey, Jim Bouton, Norm Cash, Ron Perranoski and Dick Radatz. One household name and I guess Bouton was a real live one still when this was first developed, but this box art is typical mockup in that it seems like Topps used photos lying around the art den to create it. Some pictures had already been used on cards, others were fresh.  The Bouton is an example that was taken from a card:

Here's Dean Chance, a hot pitcher for awhile:

Looks a bit like a whoopee cushion, doesn't it?!

Mr. O has the artwork dated from 1963-64. Here it was enhanced with descriptors circling around Bob Veale's scowling mug. I have to think this particular one came after the Chance and other box art was created as it's closer to the (almost) finished product.

The mockup art apparently originated with Bill Haber. I think the "discs" originated from Woody Gelman.  Here's what must have been close to the finished products, from "1968":


I'm not sure why the set got killed but possibly due to US Customs duty assessments being higher for toys vs. novelties. It also could have tested poorly. I don't think we'll ever know.

As seen with other sets, the two or three year time frame from mockup to execution is not exceptional. Too bad it never got released, I love the 1956 Baseball Buttons and these would have been just as nice and apparently a little bit larger.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Penny Here, A Nickel There

As we come up on the Fourth of July, which is perhaps my favorite holiday, I though I'd kick back today, practice my 12 oz. curls and just show a little eye candy representing items that are infrequently seen.

This is a box of some scarcity and it held 100 (maybe 120) tabs of Pixie Bubble Gum, each with an X-Ray Roundup card inserted between its wrapper layers. I can't swear I've seen another example of this box; this made an appearance on eBay a couple of months ago.

Dig the artwork:

They never missed a chance to get an advert in for Bazooka but as you can see here, were still making their original, Topps Gum in '49, although it would soon transition to a Chiclets style chew before going away completely in the early 50's. I think this box pre-dates the once-cent Bazooka tabs that were introduced in mid-1949:

Topps stopped including cards with their one cent gum tabs late in 1949 and I'm fairly certain they curtailed the postage stamp sized License Plates set accordingly and then reissued it in a larger size for 1950.  Flags of All Nations-Soldiers of The World also got this treatment as Topps transitioned so a larger card format. This format, measuring 1 3/4" x 2 7/8" was only used for these two sets. The 1949 Stop 'N Go wrapper (Topps named the cards and the gum separately back then) is tough, as is the 1950 version.

Bring 'Em Back Alive helped kick off off yet another, larger card size in 1950, one measuring  2 1/16" x 2 5/8" and which debuted with Hopalong Cassidy.

For some reason Topps used a date on their nickel packs but usually not their penny packs. That's a nice wrapper pardner!

This five-center is a lot more crinkly:

Any of those elongated five cent packs would have held panelized cards, a practice Topps ended by 1952. The practice of separately naming the gum and card set had disappeared by then as well.