The Innovative ’80s From 3-D Cards To The Metal Gallery of Immortals

Topps wasn’t going to acknowledge what led to them trying out some new things in their own magazine, but I think we all know the end of the Topps monopoly and competition from Donruss and Fleer drove the innovation.

Nevertheless, Pearlman’s article in Edition 9, The Winter 1992 release of Topps Magazine, provides a nice overview of some unique ’80s releases. In the comments, let me know which one’s your favorite.

Original 1949 Bowman Baseball Window Ad Sheet

It’s incredible that this 1949 Bowman window ad sheet, meant to be stuck inside a window with pre-applied glue, survived intact.

In their May 2000 catalog, Mastro auctions described this 20” x 5-3/4” piece as in near-mint condition with a fold in the center, as manufactured. It features 16 of the set’s 240 “upcoming” cards.

One contributor on the net54 boards said these were displayed in candy store windows in the Philadelphia area in June 1949.

1939-66 Exhibit Supply Company Archive Of Original Baseball Photos

This lot of 342 Exhibit Supply Company photos is a genuine piece of hobby history. It was originally purchased at the time of ESCO’s liquidation in 1979 upon the owner’s retirement. Mastro offered it in their April 2003 Sports Premier Catalog Auction.

I can’t get a clean scan of the lot’s description because the catalog is so thick, so I’ve re-typed it:

Presented is the absolutely unique hoard of 342 original photographs and artist’s proof pieces that were used to construct Exhibit Supply Company’s baseball-themed arcade cards from 1939 to 1966. The importance of these images cannot be overstated. They were the foundations for some of the hobby’s most cherished collectibles, and every illustration is a one-of-a-kind origin item behind the production of an industry favorite. The long span of years covered allows a flight of fancy through the game from its early 20th Century Hall of Famers to the more recent superstars we watched in action during the 1950’s and 1960’s. This is an unbelievably compelling assembly of material! Many of the stars are presented in multiple poses (since they appeared in more than one Exhibit set) and the array of talent included is simply incredible. The original images for the much sought-after Exhibit “team” cards are here also. A tiny sampling of the players represented, mentioning just a fraction of the stars included, reveals: Hank Aaron, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Ernie Banks, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Mickey Cochrane, Ty Cobb, Dizzy Dean, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Evers, “Jimmy” Foxx, Frankie Frisch, Lou Gehrig, Henry Greenberg, Carl Hubbell, Walter Johnson, Connie Mack, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Christy Mathewson, Willie Mays, Joe Medwick, Mel Ott, Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Warren Spahn, Tris Speaker, Joe Tinker, Rube Waddell, Honus Wagner, Ted Williams (including ‘number 9 showing’), Cy Young, 1949 Yankees, 1950 Yankees, 1951 Yankees and many, many others. (Only space constraints prevent the listing of dozens more from this mind-boggling roster of baseball giants.) These photographs are b/w glossies of 8” x 10” or smaller dimensions, or have been fashing as “paste-up” grafted likenesses. Almost all have artist’s or editor’s working specification notes attached. A number of the images are actual “wire photos,” with news service attributions stamped on the reverse sides, and most of them display an enhanced definition of appearance that made them suitable for quality reproduction on cards. Overall condition is EX to EX/MT. This breathtaking archive was purchased at the time of Exhibit Supply Company’s liquidation in 1979 (upon the owner’s retirement), and has been preserved in full, intact form. An LOA, from the industry veteran who obtained the items directly from Exhibit Supply Company, accompanies. This amazing assembly includes an unbelievable wealth of key rarities and stars, and offers phenomenal “break” value!

The minimum bid was $2,500. If anyone knows the final price, let me know in the comments.

ACU-Card – America’s First Independent Sports Card Grading Service

I scanned this ad for ACU-Card from the Spring 1990 issue (Edition 2) of Topps Magazine

Frankly, dozens of third-party authenticators have come and gone. You can see a great list of them here on the Collectors forums. What I’m more interested in is where that 1952 Topps Mantle card is today (by the way, there’s no way it’s real).

I’ve read that a coin dealer named Alan Hager started the company. Many collectors have shared that he wasn’t really a high-integrity character. But If you want to add a piece of hobby history to your collection, you can still find a bunch of ACU-Card slabs on eBay.

Bill Russell’s 1957-58 Topps Basketball Canceled Paycheck

Back in 2011, at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago, IL, Topps held an auction exclusively for VIP ticket holders on Wednesday, August 3, at 2:30 PM. It featured “10 magnificent TOPPS items direct from the Vault!” 

One of the items was this 1957-58 Topps basketball card Bill Russell canceled paycheck.

Here’s how they described it: “Direct from Topps legendary vault, comes Hall of Famer Bill Russell’s very first Topps basketball card cancelled paycheck. Mr. Russell was the key card in the celebrated 1957-1958 Topps basketball card set. The 1957-58 Topps basketball card set was the first basketball card set issued by Topps and is the most important of the three major basketball sets issued prior to 1969 (the other two are Bowman’s 1948 set and Fleer’s 1961 set). The reverse is endorsed by Mr. Russell, in bold black ink. Overall condition is very-good-plus. PSA/DNA Certified Authentic. A Topps Vault certificate of authenticity accompanies this one-of-a-kind piece of Topps hoops history.”

1992 Upper Deck Denny’s Grand Slam Holograms Advertising

The 1991 Upper Deck Denny’s Grand Slam Hologram cards were so popular that the partners doubled down on the promotion the following year with this awesome teaser ad that I pulled from the August 1992 edition of Baseball Cards Magazine.

Denny’s then ran this ad the next month, showcasing the cards.

Denny’s partnered with Upper Deck for six total releases (1991-1995) before switching to Pinnacle for their 1996 and 1997 sets.

Topps T-Shirts And Sweatshirts

When this ad was placed in edition 7 of Topps Magazine in the summer of ’91, the price was just $15.95 per t-shirt or $27.50 per sweatshirt, plus $3.25 per order for shipping and handling for Anniversary or Traditional series items.

Apparently, a special edition Mickey Mantle one was available with this 52 Topps card on it and a Babe Ruth, too, featuring his ’73 card. About twenty players were available, including George Brett, Will Clark, Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco, Ken Griffey Jr., Gregg Jefferies, Wally Joyner, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Cal Ripken Jr., Nolan Ryan, Darryl Strawberry (Mets or Dodgers), Ozzie Smith, Frank Viola, among others. Checks were payable to Insta Graphic Systems based in Cerritos, CA.

I’m unsure what these look like, so if you have one, please let me know.