Monday, November 11, 2013

1968 Topps Test Cloth Football Patches Wax Box

Recently an item came up for auction that I thought I'd never see - a 1968 Topps Test Real Cloth Football  Patches wax box:

Up until now, the only picture of the box I had seen was the proof sheet that had been offered for sale by the Topps Vault, which I included in my review of the set back in 2010.

Given how scarce this test issue was, I didn't think I would ever see a wax box, so I was very pleased to see the seller posted a number of pictures of the box:

This is one of my favorite Topps test sets, with the colorful team patches and the oversized team cards,

but unfortunately it was done on such a limited basis that the cards and patches are very hard to find, and therefore very expensive.

To give collectors a chance to put together a modern version of this set, I think it would be a great idea for Topps to incorporate this set into next years Archives Football release.  Just as they did this year honoring the 1971 Topps Greatest Moments (my other favorite test set) in this year's Baseball Archives set,

they could make the team cards box toppers (as they are the same size as the Greatest Moments), and include the cloth team patches a an insert set.  Are you listenting Topps?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

1988 Fleer NFL Team Action Football Sticker Red Strip Variations

Since my original post on the 1988 Fleer NFL Team Action Football Stickers a few years ago, a few more sticker variations from the set have been discovered. 

The 1988 stickers have the team name on the top which has a completely white background.  However, a few teams can be found where there is a red strip across the top.  While at first it may appear that this is just the result of a miscut sticker, if you take a closer look, you can see that the more common solid white top has a larger white space compared to the sticker with the red strip:

With the help of fellow Fleer collector Albert who has passed along information on some of the variations he has come across, it now appears that there are 12 stickers which can be found with the red strip at the top.

Both Colts variations (with the team name in small letters / large letters) have the red strip

and there are 2 different versions of the Seahawks sticker - one with the Peel arrows in black as normal, and another where the Peel arrows are almost while (as it appears the black did not print).   Here is a closer look at the Seahawks variations:

While this might just be a printing flaw, I am listing is as a variation as I've come across multiple versions of both stickers, which leads me to believe the Seahawks sticker with the red strip was likely double printed on the sheet, and one of the stickers had the normal Peel arrow, and the other sticker had the white variation.   I guess we'll have to wait until an uncut sheet surfaces to confirm.

If anyone is aware of any other stickers from this set having the red strip at the top, I'd appreciate hearing from you.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

One Thing You WON'T See at Fenway Park for Game 6

With news that World Series Game 6 tickets are going for record amounts, it made me think of a picture I recently found showing fans sitting on top of a billboard behind Fenway Park during the 1967 World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals:

These fans didn't have to worry about shelling out over $1,800 per ticket to see the RedSox, which is apparently what tickets are now selling for.  They just climbed up on to the billboard and watched for free!

Here is a closer look at those up on the billboard.  It seems someone brought a banner to hang up on the sign as well:

I would think it would be a bit dangerous hanging out on top of a billboard with a large group of people, especially for those on the top of the sign with a leg draped over the edge.

Times have certainly changed in the 46 years since the 1967 World Series, and Fenway Park has undergone a number of changes during that time as well.  However, there is still a billboard behind centerfield, but it now advertises Majestic instead of Old Grand-Dad as seen in the top right hand corner of the picture below:

Today, you would get arrested for climbing up on the billboard to watch the game.  Besides, even if you could find a way to get up there, your view would now be partially blocked by the Bank of America scoreboard:

Looking at the picture from 1967 with the bright blue sky, it makes me wish that they would play at least one game each Series during the day just so we could enjoy one game under the sun instead of under the lights.

Friday, June 28, 2013

When Were the 1962 Fleer Baseball Decals Issued?

Thanks to some information recently provided by Ray from Cardboardgold4u, I am beginning to question whether the Fleer Baseball decals that are normally referred to as being from 1962 are actually from that year.  Based on decals that Ray has found of the Reds and the Senators, it appears that the decals with the red backs that are usually identified as being from 1962 may in fact be from 1960 or early 1961.

Lets start with how the sets are currently defined:

According to the SCD, the 1960 set has a blue background, as seen on these Reds and Senators decals:

Note the logo for the Senators and the fact that the Reds are referred to as the "Redlegs"

For 1961, the decals have a white background, and a blue back:

The "blue" back refers to the blue text for the Dubble Bubble ad.

Note the Reds decal has changed from Redlegs to Reds, and the Senators have a new logo since they were an expansion team in 1961 as the old Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins, which is why there is a Twins decal in the 1961 set.

So far, so good.   There were 16 teams in 1960 and there are 16 decals in the 1960 set.  In 1961 the AL expanded by 2 teams, and there are 18 decals in the 1961 set.

Where we run into an issue is the so called 1962 / Red Back set.  Here's why:

Why would the Reds have gone back to Redlegs in 1962?

Why are the Senators now back to the old logo of the team that moved to Minnesota

And finally, why has no collector ever come across a red back sticker of the Twins or Angels?  No Fleer collector I've spoken with has ever found a red back decal for these 2 expansion teams, and PSA has never graded a single example.  There only appear to be 16 decals with the red backs, so it certainly seems like this set would have been issued prior to the 1961 set given the lack of the expansion teams.

The SCD indicates there are 20 decals in the red back set, which would imply that there would also be decals for the Mets and Colt .45's that joined the league in 1962.  However, no Mets or Colt .45's Fleer decals exist, so this shows that the information in the SCD guide is most likely just a guess.

Since the SCD guessed there must be 20 decals in the set since there were 20 teams in 1962, I have a feeling they also guessed on the year.  The red backs are much more difficult to find that the blue backs which may have been why the SCD decided to identify them as 1962 since the 2nd series of the 1961-1962 Baseball Greats set is harder to find than the first series.

Another interesting thing to note is that the 1960 set has a number on the back (82846) and the red back set has a similar number (83450), perhaps something like a product code.   However, the 1961 set has no number, so that is another detail that doesn't seem to make sense that the red back set followed the blue back set.

The thing I can't figure out about the red backs is the promotion for 2 free decals with the purchase of 10 pieces of gum.  There is nothing on the decal explaining how to get the 2 decals (no address to mail the gum wrappers to to collect your decals), and I have not found any Fleer Baseball card wrappers that advertise sending in Dubble Bubble wrappers to claim the decals.

So, another possible explanation is that these were sold with Dubble Bubble gum, and did not come in Baseball card packs.  Perhaps there was a 10 pack of Dubble Bubble that came with 2 decals, or the decals were included in the gum display at the store, and if you bought 10 pieces you could get 2 free decals.  Or perhaps there was something on the Dubble Bubble gum wrapper or the Dubble Bubble comics about the promotion.  I have no information to back this up, but it would make sense given the different product # on the back of the decal and the fact that there seems to be no information on how one would go about getting their 2 Free decals by spending $.10 on Dubble Bubble.

Another possibility is that the red backs were initially prepared for the 1961 Baseball Great series based on the same design as the 1960 set, but were replaced after a small run once they were able to create decals for the Twins and Angels.

While we'll likely never get a definitive answer on when and how the red backs were issued, the Reds and Senators decals (and lack of Twins and Angels decals) show that it appears the red backs are almost certainly not from 1962.

Monday, April 22, 2013

New Chicago Cubs Fleer Cloth Patch Variation Found!

I wanted to say Thanks! to Ray from Cardboardgold4u, who let me know that he found a Cubs Fleer Cloth Patch variation that I had not previously been aware of:

At first glance, there doesn't appear to be anything different about this patch.  To see the difference, you need to look at the "UBS" inside of the large "C".   The letters are further to the left and the S is completely inside the "C", whereas most patches with the darker blue background have the letters more to the right of the "C".

The picture below of the original 2 variations I've covered previously shows the difference in the position of the letters:

This newly discovered patch shows that for at least one year Fleer changed the color from light blue to dark blue and kept the Cubs logo the same before transitioning to the logo with the letters inside the "C" moved slightly to the right.

Thanks again to Ray for this new discovery!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Custom Fleer Baseball Cloth Patches from The Phillies Room

Jim from The Phillies Room has really outdone himself this time with a great set of custom Fleer Baseball Cloth Patches, like this design for the Orioles:

Jim created the patch designs to use for his posts where he looks at each upcoming series between the Phillies and their next opponent, such as their current series against the Braves:


Even though Fleer is gone, its great to see a "new" series utilizing this classic design. It almost feels like an "update set" to the original 1969 - 1976 sets that featured each team's city and logo so that we now get to see patches with updated logos, as well as patches of teams that weren't around at the time:

Jim previously did a similar project in 2011/2012 using the Fleer cap sticker design from the 1980's which was also a fantastic tribute:
 Jim - Thanks for keeping the memory of the great Fleer patches and stickers from the 1970s & 1980's alive with your amazing creations!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

1975 St. Louis Cardinals Batting Helmet Logo

Thanks to some recent ebay auctions, I've come across a number of pictures which contain shots of a very interesting uniform curiosity - the 1975 St. Louis Cardinals batting helmet swinging bird decal that was worn on the sides of the helmet.  This picture from the Cardinals Hall of Fame shows an example of the helmet with the decal:

 Here is a closer look at the decal:
Paul Lukas from UniWatch originally posted this shot of Lou Brock wearing the helmet decal at the 1975 All Star Game

We now have a few more shots of the helmet to add to the collection.  Here is another shot of Lou Brock

This newswire photo is dated April 9, 1975, so it appears that the Cardinals introduced the batting helmet decal at the beginning of the season:

This newswire photo is dated April 23, 1975 and gives a better look at the helmet:


 This photo of Lou Brock stealing 2nd shows that the logo was worn on both sides of the helmet:

And finally, we can confirm that Lou Brock was not the only Cardinal wearing the decals, as we have pictures of Bake McBride

and Ken Reitz with the decals on their helmets as well:

Its not clear how long the Cardinals used these decals in 1975 as photos from later in the 1975 season do not show the decals.  For example, in this photo from August, 1975, Mike Tyson's batting helmet does not have the decals:

 The only other place I've seen this logo is as a 1976 Fleer Iron On:

The logo is also shown on the back of the wrapper:

If anyone has seen any other appearances of this logo (perhaps in a Cardinals program or yearbook from 1975 or 1976), I'd be interested in hearing about it, since it appears this logo made just a very brief appearance before the Cardinals decided to retire it.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

1981 Fleer Baseball Stickers 4 Pack

I recently received a picture of an item I'd never seen before - a 4 pack of 1981 Fleer Baseball Stickers:

I don't think I've ever seen a rak pack from Fleer or any other card manufacturer that offered 4 packs together.  Based on the generic header card, it looks like Fleer may have used this configuration for other items as well.

Thanks to Joe for passing along this interesting packaging variation!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

1973 Topps Willie Mays - From a Different Perspective

I came across this photo of Willie Mays at Shea Stadium

and it reminded me of his 1973 Topps card:

If I'm not mistaken, it appears that the picture was taken at a slightly different angle at almost the same time the picture was taken that was used for the card.   The bat, the position of his arms and his fingers, the black arm band (worn during the 1972 season in honor of Gil Hodges) on the left sleeve, the blue undershirt, and even the facial expression are almost identical.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Rubber Soul - The Cover Photo Uncropped and Undistorted

An amazing picture of The Beatles has just surfaced which appears to be the photo taken by Robert Freeman that was used for the Rubber Soul album cover.

The picture is uncropped and undistorted, and has never been published.  In the various books showcasing Freeman's photographs of the Beatles, there have never been any pictures showing any shots that were taken at John Lennon's home for the Rubber Soul cover, so most Beatles fans assumed the pictures had been forever lost since Freeman didn't seem to have them, or at least wasn't including them in any books.  This picture, if it is the real thing and not a really good forgery, is a shot that many fans have always wanted to see.  Its interesting to see that it must have been very cold that day as you see Paul's hands inside his shirt sleeves. 
As for the cover, and why it was distorted, the story goes that the Beatles were reviewing some of the pictures Freeman had taken as slide projections on a piece of cardboard cut out to be the size of an album cover, when the piece of cardboard slipped slightly, and created a distorted and stretched image that the Beatles really liked.   Presumably, it must have looking something like this:

The distorted image works well as it allows all 4 faces to fit very close together on the album cover:

One interesting thing to note about the Rubber Soul cover is that "Beatles" does not appear on the cover.  This is likely one of the first times a record was released where the name of the group didn't even have to appear on the cover since the band was so immediately recognizable. 

At this point, nobody seems to know the source of the photo, which is why there is a slight bit of question as to whether it is authentic, or whether it might be a really good forgery.   Here's hoping whoever released this photo has a few other shots from that photo session!