Saturday, September 22, 2018

Visit From The Turk

A visit from the Turk is a phrase I associate with roster cut downs in pro football, namely one that does not result in a good outcome for the player visited.  The origin of the phrase is murky at best but the Turk was a team employee who knocked on a player's dorm room door in training camp and told him he had been cut from the team. Fun job.

A different Turk who did a lot of work for Topps, namely Ameen (Turk) Karam, was a scout for the Cubs, Yankees and Dodgers and it was he who signed a lot of baseball players to Topps contracts beginning  (I think) in 1950 while he was still scouting for the Bums.  Turk had access to the clubhouses and was a hard worker at getting players to sign with Topps.

An article from the Berkshire Eagle on August 7, 1952 mentioned he did most of his signings between June 15 and July 15 but would soon change his methods to something ultra-modern!

Quite interesting but to me not even the most interesting tidbit from the article, which read:

I had never heard of Topps planning a 1952 NFL set until I read the article.  Things must have changed rather quickly as we know they released no such product and would not have a real NFL set until 1956, after they had bought out Bowman. So I'm thinking Bowman got wind of it and squashed it. I am further thinking Bowman then decided they needed to bring their 1952 Football cards up in size to something approximating the Giant Size cards Topps introduced in 1952 as a result. Hence the small and large sized offerings from Bowman.

This is Turk:

That picture is taken from the 1962 Topps Rookie Banquet program.  Turk was only 54 years old when he died on May 29th the following year of a heart attack, which occurred in the Topps offices at Bush Terminal.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A New Freight City

I have no idea why but I started thinking about Bush Terminal this morning and decided to poke around a few of the more esoteric corners of the internet accordingly.

Bush Terminal was, as I've noted previously, quite a forward thinking idea for companies looking for a turnkey intermodal solution to ship out goods, back when the Port of New York was the biggest one in the land prior to containerization taking over in the 50's and 60's. Founded in 1902, this 1910 advertisement showed Irving T. Bush's grand idea in it's full glory:

The main part of the terminal was usaully referred to as the Brooklyn Army Terminal while the eventual Topps offices and production facilities were housed in two of the buildings above the main complex, as seen in the upper left quadrant, in an area called Industry City:

 The two right-most buildings of the three shown in this detail, housed Topps, although they only had one when the moved in to the complex on June 1, 1946, a 237 37 St address, which is the middle building of this trio. Those shots are from the New York City Municipal Archives, although I nicked them from where the rail features are of interest.  See how they snake between the buildings?

This bucolic scene is from 1923. From The Brooklyn Public Library collection although I found it over at The Weekly Nabe site/blog.  You can see the Bush Terminal complex in the upper right:

1940 brought this view of things, with the Gowanus Expressway viaduct, apparently under construction, in focus:

Here's a look at the same stretch, albeit with a different orientation and widened considerably, from 2002, running right by the old Topps buildings. Thank you

Woody Gelman and his carpool used to park under the viaduct. He probably walked in the front door here thousands of times. Fancy, huh?

Sorry, I don't recall who sent me that shot!  Looks like the sign uses the same Franklin Gothic Condensed inspired font used by Topps back in the day.

A concise early history of Bush Terminal can be found here if you are interested.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE BLOG-10 years ago yesterday I made the first post here. Crazy!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Tatoo Boo Hoo

Lonnie Cummins, a close, personal Friend o'the Archive, has been sending along some stellar stuff lately as your blogmeister has been dealing with real world issues, which are now happily concluded! However, I must caution you that both Lonnie and I missed this unbelievable box a couple of months ago, because, well, the internet.

I have written here extensively about Tatoo, a set issued in 1948, 1949 and 1953 by Topps and limned for a good couple of decades after that. Click the tags over to the right to see - the 1948 ur-issue was the first Topps novelty set, issued 70 years ago.

Anyhoo, while I have the uber-difficult round counter display canister the gum was displayed in as part of my collection (among other related goodies), I do not have the outerbox it resided in when shipped.  A really, really nice one got away as it turns out, and at a pretty reasonable price.

Here she is:

That's remarkably good shape for 70 year old pulped cardboard!  The graphics match the canister to a "T":

The box top shows off the Al Capp artwork that adorned this issue and it's related advertising :

I think we can all agree clean fun is the best kind of fun! And who doesn't like a cavalcade? I just looked it up, a cavalcade is a formal procession of people walking, riding horses, or in vehicles. I guess the horse theme went with the overarching "circus" motif Topps had going on in 1948-49.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the box bottom, sometimes a very important source of information among the indicia:

Alas, nothing there we didn't already know.  Topps used Bubbles Inc. on their non-core Topps Gum brands including Bazooka, until they phased out their former flagship product in tab from around 1949-50.  I believe 1948 Tatoo was the last product issued this way by Topps as they went to a square display after.  While it's possible some of their 1949 issues came "in the round", I don't think they did-it squaresville thereafter man!

Now can someone find me a scan of the 1948 Tatoo Tourist Pouch?! That was the 10 cent configuration used for kids parties as best as I can guess.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Look Back In Anger

Not too long ago, some Topps test packs that had been auctioned by Mile High and dubbed the "Tennessee Beer Box Find" entered the hobby and yielded a lot of good information about how Topps distributed such things 50 plus years ago. I covered that find in a post last year and hit up a few people that know about the really esoteric Topps stuff as I was trying to determine what was actually in the packs dubbed Angry Signs

Why?  So I could update my list of Topps issues and see if I needed to worry about obtaining an almost impossible type card for my run. Said run covers anything Topps issued in a retail pack, except for standalone candy and gum issues, from 1938-80 and contains numerous difficult items but Angry Signs threatened to bring that to a new level! With some major assistance from Friend o'the Archive Lonnie Cummins, 

Clearly a precursor to 1967's Angry Stickers, the three test packs of the former that popped up were in rough shape but that was actually helpful to me. Here is a test pack, or likely two as I've mixed up which front and back view pairs up at this point, but which has aged to the point you could see some of the contents:

Awesome Wally Wood artwork!  The back of the pack shows that unlike the retail release of Angry Stickers, which were two to a sticker, Angry Signs were a solo affair: 

That subject appears on an Angry Sign from the regular set:

However, the back of at least one pack showed something different:

Dubbed Insult Jokes, the example above appears to be nothing less than a take on the Dozens. The problem I was having upon seeing this, was that this was an insert and possibly a sticker.

Thankfully Lonnie was able to come up with a real good answer, namely that it's just the reverse of the Angry Sign. So why does he think this?  Well partially because of this card:

And yes, it's a card and not a sticker.  Lonnie figured this out because of this:

Topps may or may not be right calling it a proof for Angry Stickers as it may be a proof for Angry Signs but no matter as it was issued in both sets: 

Here's the sticker match for Smokey The Bar as well:

I'd be curious if the paired stickers with one test subject also contain another test subject, which would get us somewhere toward a partial checklist of the former.

Now, there is one other little housekeeping item here, namely this lot from (maybe) REA which had a very interesting box:

More on this development another time!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

23 Who You?

More original Topps artwork this week folks.  The Lelands auction that gave us the 1969 Baseball Player Posters artwork has also offered up another treasure. This time it's the original artwork for the 1970 Baseball wax box:

The team name is not shown on the uniform but that's clearly a New York Mets player looking like he's about to bunt.  The Mets were a hot item of course, with their "Miracle" win over the Orioles in the 1969 World Series capturing the attention of much of the country.

That's also clearly Norman Saunders artwork, which is confirmed by the website maintained by his family.  It's a really impressive painting if you ask me.

The sharp-eyed among you will note the number 23 in the "cup" of the bat:

It could either be some type of manufacturer's identifier or a uniform number. I checked both the 1969 and 1970 uniform numbers for the Met and it was never assigned in either year. In 1968 though it was assigned, according to to the immortal Bob Heise, but the pictures I have found of him in a Mets uni show him as #3, which belonged to Bud Harrelson before Heise even joined the team. So maybe he borrowed Bud's uniform for a picture or two in Spring Training. So, my guess is that the painting is of a player for another team and adapted by Saunders to show ersatz Mets duds.

Here is the finished product, from an old REA auction:

I opened a ton of packs in 1970, which was my first heavy year of buying cards but to my memory most of mine came from Rak Paks. I don't remember buying much wax until I re-entered the hobby in 1981, preferring the Raks and Cellos but must have bought quite a few in '70 as I had a zillion inserts from that year and also 1971 back in the day. Memory is a funny thing!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Pasted Along The Way

A couple of really neat original Topps production items showed up in the just concluded Lelands "2018 Invitational" Auction.  As usual, I thought these were interesting enough to share. 

Leading off, two working proofs of the 1969 Topps Baseball Player Posters provide some fascinating insight into the creation of the set:

There's a lot going on here. First off, these appear to be black process player photo proofs prepared on acetate, which was a common method used by Topps at the time..  Check out how creepy Glenn Beckert looks with those almost empty eyes (you can just see his pupils if you look carefully) on the Cubs pasteup! Here, I;ve separated the two posters to make it easier to see:

It looks like these were created very early on, as Topps "built up" they layers needed to print the actual posters.  You can see where they even added some ersatz player autographs as placeholders showing where the signature should appear for each player.  They just used a squiggly line until they had an actual autograph to use I guess. Fergie Jenkins had a hybrid sig going on!

You can clearly see elements of paste on letters and what looks like crayon, but is actually acrylic paint and colored pencil)  in these as the layouts were made.  Now check out this Red Sox closeup:

The team banner is out of sync and corrections are clearly needed.  Here's a couple of them, the first in Woody Gelman's own hand:

That note says "fix chin over banner" and sure enough they did on the finished product as it looks like Ray Culp is about to be guillotined:

Woody must have really wanted that chin to pop as the instruction he wrote across the top of the layout also drew "Lou's" attention to it:

The notes across the bottom are not in Woody's hand, maybe they belong to Lou; they merely indictatethe colors should be brought out to the borders in any event. The attention to detail for a poster intended to be printed on cheap pulp stock is impressive.  Here's how it looked in 1969 when you pulled it out of the pack:

Here's the finished Cubs poster:

And as for Glenn Beckert?  Check out those baby blues:

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!