Saturday, September 29, 2018

Dearth Of A Salesman

Yonks ago, when I made two posts (here and here) about the old salesman's sample strips Topps used to print up and send to their wholesalers and the like, there were four strips I could not find scans of.  And yes, I know that I ended that last sentence with a preposition and, also, that a lot of the scans on those old posts are fuzzy as can be. I'll probably amend those fuzzballs someday but for now, will have to be content with filling in some of the missing examples.

The 1958 looks to have very much set the tone for 1959's model.  Check this bad boy out, courtesy of Friend o'the Archive Don Johnson:


That's a killer shot of Billy Hoeft by the way.  Now, look at this back, which is also red, red, red:


Now compare that to this 1959 sample reverse:


It appears that Topps could manipulate the reverses to allow an area for an address to be added, so these samples were used in a couple of different ways at least.

As previously noted, the last sample was produced in 1967:


I always liked that shot of Earl Battey in his windbreaker.  Reverse-wise, while the authenticity of the autographs is dubious, someone at Topps clearly loved the idea:


So that example was for a jobber (wholesaler).  In 1967 they probably had as many orders as they could handle. Now, take a look at that illustration of the Dodgers player.  It must have been drawn by the same hand that did the 1965 Topps Transfers:


I'll hopefully have the other missing samples (from 1953 & 1956) up shortly.  And if I can get a few more scans, I'll show the larger, "4x4" and "8x8" versions that they issued in a couple of years in a future post.


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 www.trainweb.org 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 www.nycroads.com:



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!