Saturday, August 8, 2009

Who's Minding The Mint?

Time to gas up the Mystery Machine and get the Scooby snacks handy folks, as we search today for an answer to an age old question. (NOTE-this post has been updated twice from the original posting due to a combination of new information and really bad editing on my part. 8/11/09)

As you will no doubt recall, Topps issued a wrapper set in 1949 and '56 called It Happened To A President which was the interior wrapper of an issue entitled Golden Coin. Here's a '56 box with a mix of packs inside, the one third from the left is from '49:

(From the collection of Jeff Shepherd)

Within you would find one from a set of presidential coins, 32 in number and made of metal.

The reverse had some text:

Now presidential math is always a little tricky but with the Grover Cleveland kangaroo jump 33 presidents yielded 32 slots in the album if you're scoring at home and I'd wager when Ike was added the slots were upped by one to 33, even though he was president number 34. Keep this in mind as we look for clues below. Bear in mind though that there was also a coin minted of the U.S. Capitol, although there is no spot in the album for it.

The original album was a Bazooka premium and you could mail away for it:

(From the collection of Jeff Shepherd)

The bottom items are from a '49 pack. The coin itself was housed in the paper sleeve with the red printing which has the address to mail away for the album. The album looked like this close up:

In 1956 a Canadian version of the set was issued via O-Pee-Chee that upped the presidential coin count to 33 and increased their size slightly (still around the size of a quarter). The fronts have changed a bit if these are indeed the Canadian coins (UPDATE Aug 10th-these are likely NOT the 56's. See some details here on Net54) and they are actually made of plastic:

The backs changed too, although to a lesser degree:

(Both scans from the old Net54 ID of MarquisofCards)

Gotta love the original cello wraps! I doubt the '49 coins were entombed this way, I think this type of cello technology came a couple of years later. In 1956 the inner folder looked a little different up North:

(From the collection of Todd Riley)

The back goes through Eisenhower:

(From Sport Americana Price Guide to the Non-Sports Cards 1930-1960, 2nd ed, Edgewater Book Company, 1993-Copyright by Christopher Benjamin)

Sorry for the b&w scan there kids! I don't think an album was issued for the OPC set in '56, by the way since there is no mail in offer on the folder.

Here is where the mystery lies though. There is supposedly no US counterpart to the '56 coins but what then, do we make of these?

(Anonymous e-mail post)

I still find it hard to believe no US version exists, perhaps it was abandoned and rejiggered for the Canadian market but what of the above coins then? There is some evidence too the Golden Coins were also issued as gas station premiums in the 50's and early 60's so Topps may have just licensed from another source the coins originally and there is more to this set than can be discerned here.

The Net54 link above has some scans from Jeff Shepherd you can look at, including a trade ad for the 1949 edition.

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