Saturday, September 14, 2019

Wrappers Delight

I'll spare you all the historic details of the Star Wars movie franchise and lengthy history of the Topps sets issued in the wake of the world's most popular Space Opera saga (40 plus years strong and counting) but do want to focus on an esoteric issue from 1978 today.  Commonly referred to as Star Wars Movie Photo Pin-Ups, Topps printed 56 different images on the backs of sugar free gum wrappers in 1978 as the frenzy around the first Star Wars movie (now known as "A New Hope") continued unabated.

These interior wrapper images are nothing special and were clearly just pumped out with very little editorial effort:



These measure about 2 7/8" x 3 5/16" once opened and flattened but the real money shots are the four exterior wrapper varieties:


Also of particular interest to me, is the little production rip along the blank edge of these wrappers (which images come from, I believe the Twitter feed of one "Mr. Non-Sports"), although where R2-D2 has gotten to, I'll never know.  I've covered this rip in depth previously here and keep progressing the end date for same as I examine newer sets.  The rip is not from opening the packs but rather a result of the packaging process at the factory.  I'll leave it to you all to determine if this should hugely impact the grading of such affected items but it's interesting that the original equipment used to produce the first Topps confections in 1938 was still in use forty years later.  It was described as "ancient" by Topps in 1938 so its exact age is far older.

The box is pretty nice too:


I grabbed that from www.chrismonin.com and you should head over there is you want more details on this set as he has an exhaustive page on it with the full set illustrated along with plenty of ancillary material.

As noted by Mr. Monin, the set didn't sell well and it's not all that easy to find these days.  The real standout though, is a bit of a Topps anomaly, namely a full box wrapper:


The trumpeting of the lack of saccharin was a direct result of of the Saccharine Study and Labeling Act of 1977, which required warning labels for products using this artificial sweetener. I'm not sure if this extra wrap was to maintain the freshness of the gum, draw attention to the lack of saccharin or some kind of attention grabber for the retailer but it's pretty neat no matter what its purpose.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Nice Pull

So I managed to glom another 1968 3D card in the latest REA extravaganza and it's got two characteristics that intrigue me, although since I collect 60's and 70's Mets cards, it's really three characteristics.  I'll leave it at the first two for this post though for you non-Mets fans.

Here is one of the heroes of Game 4 of the 1969 World Series, pre-Miracle:


We will come back to the front momentarily. The back is reason No. 1 I wanted this specific card.


We've seen those stamps here previously and they also come in black.  The auction in question featured one back with a black stamp (Fairly "No Dugout" variation) and a whopping eleven with the red version, including the "Dugout" version of Fairly.  The Clemente was lacking the stamp, otherwise there would have been a complete set of reds, which is the most I have ever seen in one place.

By the way, a master set, per Keith Olbermann, includes five variations (Fairly, Maloney, Flood, Powell and Staub), all of which can come with either a red or black stamp to boot, although only blank backs would have been included in the Topps test packs.

Take a look at that lower left corner of the card front.  You can clearly see two "pull" marks:


Those are similar to those found on my Maloney "No Dugout" card:


The two marks on Maloney are spaced farther apart so I don't think they represent damage from a "grabber" used after the cards were cut apart.


They likely do however, represent a problem related to the cutting process, where portions of the ribbed lenticular coating used to create the 3D effect would pull away from the surface during production.  I suspect problems like this (and expense) contributed to the demise of this set, rather than just a poor test response.  Just look at the long run of Kellogg's 3D cards from 1970-83 and aftermarket interest in this set to gauge what the interest level could have been.