Friday, December 28, 2007

1960 Fleer Football Decal Stickers

In addition to the Baseball decals that Fleer produced in the early 1960's, Fleer produced a set of Football decals for their initial 1960 Football card set. As Fleer only had the license for the the newly formed American Football League in 1960, the only teams represented on the decals are the original 8 AFL teams as well as the AFL Logo for a total of 9 decals in the set. There are no decals for NFL teams.

Here is a picture of the entire set of AFL decals that were recently up for auction on ebay:

Now for some closeups. First the AFL Logo:

The Boston (later to be renamed New England) Patriots:

The Buffalo Bills:
The Dallas Texans (soon to relocate to Kansas City as the Chiefs):

The Denver Broncos:

The Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans):

The Los Angeles Chargers (soon to relocate to San Diego):

The New York Titans (later to be renamed Jets):

Just for fun, here is a picture of the Jets playing in their Titans "throwbacks" this year:

And the Oakland Raiders:

Finally, the back of the decal:

For anyone interested in more information about the AFL, there are some great websites:

In addition to the AFL team decals, there were also decals for College Football pennants. There were 2 pennants per decal, with 19 different decals comprising the set.

Here is the wrapper for the 1960 Fleer Football cards with the mention of the decals on the front and an offer for college pennants on the back:

Finally, here is an example of what the 1960 Fleer Football cards look like with a very young Jack Kemp:

Considering that 1960 was the inaugural year for the AFL, its actually pretty amazing that the players were even represented in a card set. While Football was certainly gaining in popularity at the time (The Greatest Game Ever Played having only taken place a few years earlier with the 1958 Championship between the Colts and the Giants that went to "sudden death" which is widely considered the point when Football started its climb to become king of the US sports world), it still seems surprising that a start up league would have its own card set before the teams had ever played any games. Perhaps Fleer was looking for any way to get into the new card market given that they couldn't produce cards of current baseball players, and the AFL seemed like a way to get in the game.

Fleer produced a Football set in 1961 with both AFL & NFL teams, and then went back to AFL only sets in 1962 & 1963. Topps also produced an AFL/NFL set in 1961, and then went back to NFL sets for 1962 & 1963. Fleer apparently lost their football license as in 1964 the Philadelphia Gum Company took over the NFL sets for 1964-1967 while Topps had the AFL (and was able to end up with Joe Namath's iconic rookie card).

Fleer did not produce any team logo stickers or decals for the 1961 - 1963 sets, so 1960 is the only year that team decals/stickers were produced. Fleer would return to Football in 1968 with their "Big Signs" (stay tuned for more information), but it would not be until 1972 that Fleer would issue any more football stickers - at which point they went on a great 17 year run which I will be getting to shortly.

Before we get to the Football stickers from the 1970's & 1980's, we'll be moving back to Baseball as we move forward to 1967. Fleer produced a number of different Baseball items in the late 1960s through early 1970's, so we'll start trying to sort through everything when we pick back up after New Years!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Larry Fritsch and Renata Galasso

Before getting to the 1960 Fleer Football decals, I wanted to reminisce about "the good old days" for a moment. It was sad news for the hobby as we learned that Larry Fritsch passed away last weekend. Larry was a true hobby pioneer becoming a full time dealer in cards well before anyone ever thought you could make a living selling baseball cards. He leaves an incredible legacy and will be greatly missed.

In thinking about Larry's passing, I started thinking back to the days when mail order was one of the only ways you could get cards since card shops had not yet started to proliferate - in other words, back to the late 70's and early 80's. While I was aware of Fritsch Cards, the dealer I bought my mail order cards from was Renata Galasso.

If you were a kid during the 70's and 80's and collected cards, chances are you had heard of Renata Galasso, or at least seen the ads if you read any baseball magazines such as Street & Smith.

If you don't remember the ads, take a look. Perhaps this will jog your memory:

Renata was quite a business woman. The story goes that she started putting together sets and selling them as a way to pay for college in the early 70's, and ended up growing the business to the point where she called herself the "Worlds Largest Hobby Card Dealer". Whether or not this is true is anyone's guess, but for a time from the mid 70's to the late 80's, Renata was one of the key mail order dealers in the hobby.

Over the years I bought many different sets through her, and was always very pleased. It was always a thrill when the latest catalog would come out, and it felt like Christmas when the UPS truck showed up with my cards. Usually during the season she would mail out order forms for sets that were going to be released later in the year, such as the update sets and the Topps Tiffany sets.

I had always imagined she had a large warehouse with tons of cards. As it turns out, the truth was a little less impressive.

Here is a link to a set of pictures taken from her store in Queens in 1986, which does not appear to be very big:

Renata's business became so successful that she, like Larry Fritsch, produced some card sets. Many of the sets were very well done. Thanks to Renata, I was able to get a full set of the rare Mars Attacks cards through the very nice reprint set that she produced.

Being in New York, it appears that she was able to work with Topps on a few projects since in addition to the Mars Attacks set, she also produced a Reggie Jackson set that included the picture from the rare test proof showing Reggie on his 1977 Topps card as an Oriole. There are also a few other pictures in the set that come directly from Topps cards, and the puzzle on the back of some of the cards forms a picture of all of Reggie's Topps cards up to the point the set was issued in 1984.

Here is the Reggie set with the Oriole card picture in the top left:

She also did a Pete Rose set, which included Topps images:

Other players who were featured in their own sets were Don Mattingly:

Dwight Gooden:

and Willie Mays (including an autographed first card in the set):

In addition, she did a set spread over 6 series of 45 cards each in conjunction with TCMA called Galasso Glossy Greats highlighting stars from the past:

Here is a picture of some of the cards:

The 45 card sets came free when you purchased your Topps set. See the ad above that explains that you get a free glossy set (a $4.00 value!) when you buy your Topps set from Renata.

She also did some sets based around teams. For example, the 1969 one-year wonder Seattle Pilots:

The 1961 Yankees (both B&W and color sets):

And finally a 1962 Mets set:

The other thing that Renata did was publish a Baseball Card magazine. This was much more than just a catalog for her store - it was a glossy magazine with pictures of players and articles as well as vintage card reprints, and was very well done. The name of the magazine was The Baseball Hobby Card Report, and you can occassionaly find them on ebay.

Here is the first issue:

Each issue contained reprint cards, such as these which were included with the 1st issue:

And what look back at the early 80's collecting scene would be complete without Ron Kittle:

I'm not sure what ever happened to Renata. I think she stopped the mail order business sometime in the early 90's. I'm sure the explosion of baseball card shops that took place in the boom time of the 80's hurt the demand for a mail order business, but I can't say if thats the reason she finally got out of the business or not. There may have been other reasons for her disappearing from the scene as well.

I have very fond memories of dealing with Renata Galasso and purchasing many sets from her over the years. Seeing the ad for 1,000 Mint 1979 cards in unopened boxes or a complete set for $13.99 takes me back to a time when card collecting was pure fun. No serial #'ed inserts to chase, no parallel cards, no outrageously priced packs, etc. Its those memories of how much fun collecting can be that still keep me collecting today.

Renata - if you ever come across this post, I'd like to say thanks!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

1962 Fleer Baseball Decal Stickers

I am calling this next set the 1962 set based on the information about these decals from the ebay auction where they were listed, but I'm not entirely sure if it was issued in late 1961 or early 1962. The second Fleer Greats series (after the 1960 series) is sometimes called the 1961-1962 Fleer Greats series as it was issued in 2 series. The first series came out in 1961. The second series either came out later in 1961, or possibly early 1962. The 2nd series of Baseball Greats (cards #89 - #154) continued the card design from the 1st series (cards #1 - #88).

I tend to believe that the 2nd series came out later in 1961 and perhaps was still available for sale in 1962 based on the following assumption: There are apparently no Mets or Colt .45 decals for the 2nd series decals. Since the 1st series added the expansion Angles and Senators and the relocated Twins, if the second series had been issued in 1962, it would seem reasonable that Fleer would have added the 2 new expansion teams as they did the previous year.

It only took a little over a year, but Fleer issued its first significant variations with the decals that were included in the 2nd series. As you will see as I continue my review of Fleer's many inserts over the years, it is possible to find variations in almost every set they issued. This is mainly due to the fact that Fleer tended to repeat an insert design for a few years at a time, and would make changes such as logo adjustments (as we saw with the Senators in 1961) if a logo changed, or would sometimes just make minor adjustments like a different backing. Its these minor differences which help identify which set a particular item belongs to, but it also creates confusion as collectors do not always understand the differences.

I only became aware of this set this week as I was doing research for this blog. In searching for some pictures, I came across an auction offering the rare 1962 "Red Back" decals. The decals were offered by ebay seller bjisak who is a well respected Fleer collector and who often has Fleer items available for auction. He has been a very valuable resource for information on a number of Fleer questions I've had over the last few years, so I'd like to say "Thanks B!" for all of your help. Many of the items I will be covering in future posts will be the result of information I've learned from bjisak, so I'd like to make sure I give him credit for bringing to my attention many of the items I will be covering.

He has confirmed that there are no red back Mets or Colt .45 decals in the set, which is why I think this is actually a set from late 1961 instead of 1962.

The stickers appear to have the same logos as 1960 and 1961 - at least the 9 that were up for auction are the same. They also have the same white border as the 1961 set, which means the only difference is the back which is white with red lettering for an offer to receive 2 free decals with the purchase of 10 pieces of Dubble Bubble.

Here is a picture of the front of 9 of the decals:

Here is the picture of the backs:

And here's a close up of the back:

I am not sure if the wrapper for Series 2 was different from the wrapper I posted for Series 1, and I also don't know if the World Series pennant stickers were included in the 2nd series like they were in the 1st Series either. If anyone can shed any light on this, such as with a scan of the Series 2 wrapper, I'd appreciate it.

The Red Back decals are much more difficult to find than the 1960 and 1961 versions. As is the case with most high number series, the high numbers tend to be more scarce. Since the 2nd Series commons list in Beckett for more than double the 1st Series commons, its safe to assume that these are indeed a much more scarce issue.

To summarize the differences between the 3 sets of decals from the early 1960's:




Now that we've finished up the 1960 - 1962 Baseball decals, our next set to review will be the 1960 Football decals.

1961 Fleer Baseball Decal Stickers

Fleer issued another decal set as an insert in their 1961 Fleer Baseball Greats set. The set expanded to 18 decals as in 1961 the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins were added to the American League that year.

At first glance, the decals appear very similar to the 1960 series as for the most part the logos are the same. However there are a few major differences:

The fronts of the 1961 set have a white border around the logo instead of the blue border found on the 1960 set. Here's an example of the Orioles logo from 1960 and 1961:

The backs for 1961 are white and have an ad for Dubble Bubble, while the 1960 set had blue backs with instructions for applying the decal.

Here are the American League Decals:

Here are the National League decals:

As the Washington Senators had moved to Minnesota to become the Twins, the Senators logo is different in the 1961 set for the expansion team that was put in Washington to keep baseball in the nation's capital. Otherwise, the logos are the same for both years.

Here is the wrapper:

Here is an example of what the cards look like:

In addition, as the wrapper mentions, besides the decal, there was a sticker inserted as well. Fleer issued a set of pennant stickers highlighting the World Series from 1913 through 1960.

Here are some pictures of some of those stickers:

Not bad getting 2 inserts in a pack! Fleer was really trying to get the kids to buy their cards of retired players rather than the Topps cards all the kids wanted with current players. Fleer would issue a 3rd set of decals in 1962 which I will cover next time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

1960 Fleer Baseball Decal Stickers

Going back to earliest Fleer team logo insert from 1960, I wanted to show the 1960 set of Baseball decals, which were inserted into packs of Fleer Baseball Greats.

There are 16 decals for the teams that comprised Major League Baseball at the time. There are actually 3 sets of decals from 1960-1962. My next review will cover 1961 and highlight the differences between the 1960 and 1961 sets. Fleer would also do a similar set of decals for their 1960 Football set which I will cover shortly.

Here are the American League decals:

Here are the National League Decals:

The backs are blue and contain instructions for applying the decal:

This is an example of what the Fleer Greats cards look like:

Here is the wrapper (see top right):

And finally - the front of the wax box which mentions the emblem insert:

Not a bad start for Fleer. Little did Fleer know at the time that over the next 30 years or so they would put out some form of team logo sticker or card almost every year until 1992.

The decals are not that difficult to find today. Sets sometimes show up for sale on ebay, and you can almost always find an auction or two for individual teams.