Lets take a look at each year's SCD review (click on the article to see a larger view):
1977 was the first year Fleer issued glossy baseball stickers after their 8 year run of cloth patches. As the article explains, there were border color variations for each team's logo sticker, with some teams having 3 border color variations of white, blue and yellow:
and other teams having a variation of white and pink:
Each team also had a cap monogram / team name sticker (except for the expansion Blue Jays and Mariners):
The article indicates there are 95 different stickers counting the border variations, which is the same conclusion I came to when I previously reviewed this set a few years ago, so I'm glad to see that we both agree on that figure.
The one bit of new information contained in this article is that packs contained 5 glossy stickers AND "1 of the cloth-type baseball patches originally issued with the 1975 Fleer Pioneers of Baseball set". I've never opened a pack of 1977 stickers, so I was not aware that cloth patches were apparently being included with the glossy stickers as well. There is no mention of cloth patches on the wrapper or the box, so this is the first I've heard of this.
The 1978 review indicates that the cap monogram / team name stickers had been added for the Mariners and Blue Jays
which therefore increased the total set size including all border variations to 97, which again matches what I had calculated when I previously reviewed the 1978 set.
The article also mentions the fact that there is a World Series puzzle on the back of the stickers this year which has been indicated on the fronts of many of the stickers as well (the 1978 sticker with the mention of the puzzle is on the top compared to the 1977 sticker below it):
Here is look at the completed puzzle:
As the article points out, its not easy putting together the puzzle as it requires 66 different backs.
The article lists all the changes that were made to the stickers from 1977 to 1978, and also mentions that there were 2 wrapper variations - one with AL teams and another with NL teams:
The thing I find interesting about the article is the last sentence on the first page where the writer is willing to offer up a set of nearly all the variations for 2 1977 Burger King Lou Piniella cards:
This was a very hot card back in the late 70's as it was originally not included in the 1977 Burger King Yankees set. Legend has it George Steinbrenner was not happy Lou was left out of the set, so cards were made towards the end of the promotion so he could be included, but they ended up being in much shorter supply than the rest of the team.
For the full story, check out Dave's excellent article about the card at The Topps Archives.
The 1979 stickers are nearly identical to their 1978 counterparts, with a few exceptions:
The writer for the 1979 review really takes puzzle back variations seriously! You have to remember that back in 1979 there was only the regular Topps set to collect, so collectors had lots of time on their hands to ponder things like how many different puzzle back variations there were for each sticker since they weren't trying to keep up with new releases every week or two.
As the writer points out, with the 1978 puzzle being 66 cards, the uncut 1978 sheet would consist of 2 puzzles on the back which would take care of the entire 132 card sheet, meaning each sticker could only have 2 back variations.
Since the 1979 puzzle was reduced to 30 cards, a 132 card sheet could hold 4 puzzles plus 12 additional cards. Here is a look at a section of a full sheet where the full puzzle has been cut out as a partial sheet
along with the corresponding stickers on the front:
Since the puzzle was repeated 4 times on the back of the sheet, most puzzle pieces can be found with 4 different stickers on the front, with a few having 6 different stickers (for those 12 additional puzzle pieces).
I really enjoy collecting Fleer variations, but I've had to draw the line at puzzle back variations. I find them interesting in terms of trying to better understand how the uncut sheets were arranged, but I've avoided trying to complete full master sets with all possible puzzle back variations as it was enough of a challenge just to try to get all the colored border variations. As the writer of this article says, he's ready for a padded cell after trying to figure out all the various sticker / puzzle back variations.
To wrap up 1979, here is the pack and the box for the stickers:
Many thanks to Troy for another great set of articles that give a sense of what collectors were thinking about these sets when they were initially released.