While scrolling through the Vintage Wax and Packs Facebook group a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a post from a collector who shared a 1976 Topps Baseball Rack Pack featuring a white-backed header. I had seen a 1976 Topps Baseball Rack Pack gray-backed header before but knew very little about this unopened pack nuance. So, I asked what the deal was with these 1976 rack packs and learned it had to do with Topps’ approach to season closeouts.
Topps employed various intriguing methods during their end-of-year closeouts to detour excess inventory. For instance, I’ve previously written about Topps’ X-Out boxes and how Topps packed current-year cards in past-year wrappers. In the case of the 1976 Topps Baseball Rack Packs, it seems Topps utilized headers from other sports to move extra cards.
Before jumping in, it should be noted that there’s limited source material available about Topps’ unopened packaging and collation practices. Much of the information surrounding these nuances is based on word of mouth, making verifying its accuracy tough, and I’m not an expert on this particular product. With that out of the way, let’s jump into it.
Let’s start with the two 1976 Topps Baseball Rack Packs. Here’s an example of one with a gray-backed header.
You can see that the product code on the front is 1-034-93-01-6 (the 6 meant that it was designed in 1976). The offer on the back expired on 9/30/76 (bottom right of the header’s back). The expiration date tracks; most 1975 Topps baseball racks had an expiration date of 9/30/75 and a product code of 1-034-93-01-5.
Next, here’s an example of a 1976 Topps Baseball Rack Pack with a white-backed header.
Collectors did share that the racks with white-backed headers follow different collation rules than standard 1976 Topps racks whose standard collation “has cards from 1-asterisk sheets in header section, cards from 0-asterisk sheets in middle section and cards from 2-asterisk sheets in the far section with a gray-backed header card and a product code ending in -6. There is also a known aberration (as there is for most years) in which the cards in the header section are from the 2- asterisk sheets (instead of the 1-asterisk sheets) with same gray-backed header card.”
You can see that its product code and expiration date are different than the racks with gray-backed headers, 1-918-93-01-5 and 12/31/76.
A collector on Facebook said that the white-backed versions are legitimate racks but utilize 1975 Topps Football Rack Pack header cards.
So, I looked for 1975 Topps Football Rack Packs and found two examples; both have a product code of 1-918-93-01-5, but one has an expiration date of 12/31/76, and the other has an expiration date of 12/31/75.
I asked about the date discrepancy for 1975 Topps Football Racks, which most commonly have a 1976 expiration date. Another collector told me that Topps most often used the hockey rack headers for the baseball racks with white-backed headers.
All of the 1975/76 Topps Hockey Rack Pack Headers I found have a 1-918-93-01-5 product code and a 12/31/76 expiration date.
While I am still learning about mid to late-70s Topps rack pack headers, I believe it’s safe to assume that collectors can find genuine 1976 Topps Baseball Rack Packs with white and gray-backed header cards. But if you have any additional information about these packs, please leave a comment or contact me through Twitter or email. I’ll share any updates in The Post War Cards Newsletter, so don’t forget to subscribe. Happy collecting!