Inside the Baseball Card Business: Insights from a 1966 Topps Baseball Point of Sale Order Booklet

Well, wouldn’t you know it? Hot on the heels of my previous article about 1960s Topps Baseball Dealer Sell Sheets, I stumble across an incredible Topps point-of-sale order booklet from 1966. High Card Company sold the booklet for $301 in September 2017, and as a time capsule, it adds a layer of insight to the business side of the baseball card market in the mid-60s.

I suspect one of the images I previously shared in the 1966 Topps Baseball Unopened Archive and the sell sheet article may have originated from this booklet, so I’m happy to have run across it. In this article, I’ll share and discuss each page of the booklet dissecting the business side of Topps sales campaign, including the heavy presence of Sandy Koufax in the marketing materials.

Before I begin, I can’t be sure if Mile High took these photos chronologically, as each page was placed in the booklet. And, I’m not sure which pages are stapled, removable, or what paper stock the sheets were printed on. The stock is important because some of these booklet pages are only black-and-white, while similar dealer sell sheets exist on the market with color cards pictured. Here is the auction’s exact product description:

“Sent to stores and luncheonettes all over the country, this 1966 Topps sale order booklet outlines the available products and features of the 1966 Topps series. The ordering process includes certain extras and added perks, like a free metal display stand for rack packs that was included with a first-series order, as well as order forms for the 2nd and 6th series. An interesting look at the business side of the baseball card market.”

The first image is of the cover featuring the same Topps Baseball Trading cards ball/logo printed on wax wrappers that year but in black-and-white.

1966 Topps Baseball Point of Sale Order Booklet
1966 Topps Baseball Wax Wrapper

The following two pages in the point-of-sale booklet are a pair marketing 29-cent Rak-Paks.

1966 Topps Baseball Point of Sale Order Booklet

The left side also says that the packs include an extra bonus of 3 full-color rub-off photos in each pack, and they highlight Sandy Koufax. The description next to the Koufax rub-off says the 1966 set is the “most complete and exciting series of Baseball cards ever assembled.” To excite and equip retailers and promote their products, Topps highlighted the inclusion of Baseball stars like Koufax, Wilhelm, and Killebrew. They then highlighted the rub-off photo bonus. Topps offered a Metal Poit of Purchase (POP) Display Stand included in every case of 1st Series cards to display the rak-paks as an additional inducement. The right side of the sheet shows an example and the specs of the metal display stand. It was heavy-duty, came completely assembled, used only 40 square inches of counter space, and held an entire case of Rak-Paks (48).

The next two pages are the rak-pak price and packaging specs and another sell sheet highlighting the 10-cent cello and 29-cent rack packs.

1966 Topps Baseball Point of Sale Order Booklet

The rak-paks were product #981; each 10-cent unit held 13 cards plus a bonus photo transfer wrapped in cellophane. But a rak was made of three of these 10-cent units. A case had 48 29-cent rak-paks, and the first series cases included that display stand. The price was $19.50 per gross (3 cases per gross). 

The sell sheet that highlighted these 10-cent and 29-cent packs had the same baseball logo as the cover and nearly the same product description on the rak-pak marketing page presented earlier. There are then a pair of photos in a box, one of a 10-cent pack with Mickey Mantle and another of a rak-pak. Next to that is an ad for the extra full-color rub-off that was included in each package. The 10-cent and 29-cent item specifics were centered along the bottom. Unfortunately, the image quality means I can’t quite make out the specs.

I suspect the back of the sell sheet with the 10-cent and 29-cent pack details is the blank page on the left of this next image, followed by a memo from Leonard Harrison, Topps’ Sales Manager, to a generic buyer trying to convince them to order cards.

1966 Topps Baseball Point of Sale Order Booklet

The note encourages retailers to order quickly to get one of the first shipments in their region. The memo highlights that Topps is the most “scaleable Baseball Commodity on the market.” And that in 1966 it included a bonus rub-off photo transfer. The memo ends with a note about the metal display stand.

The memo’s bag side is likely the blank page on the left of this next image, with a duplicate, sans product specifications, of the 10-cent and 29-cent trading cards on the following page.

1966 Topps Baseball Point of Sale Order Booklet

The back of the album is blank, and you can see the previous photo through the paper, but a small yellow order form was taped to the top corner for a Gross of the 10-cent and 29-cent packages. The 10-cent trading card packs appear to have been packed 3 gross per case (3 gross minimum order) at, I think, $6.48 per gross.

1966 Topps Baseball Point of Sale Order Booklet

Also included in this lot was a pair of tri-fold order forms for 2nd and 6th series wax packs; 24 packs per box and 24 boxes per case. 

1966 Topps Baseball Order Forms

There were other deals for Bazooka and other Topps products on the form. A note is included that freight was prepaid on minimum shipments of 5 cases of assorted products from Pennsylvania. The 402 and 406, on the bottom right, most likely refer to the product code for each series. I pulled the following photo from the Unopened archive of a case with code 401 printed on it, probably a Series 1 wax case.

1966 Topps Baseball Wax Case

You can see that Topps encouraged bundling, pressed dealers to be the first retailers in their regions to carry a product, highlighted the game’s superstars, and included eye-catching imagery and product descriptions to entice potential buyers. Koufax’s presence wasn’t understated either; after all, in 1965, he had just won the World Series with the Dodgers (for which he was the MVP), won the Cy Young Award, and was MLB’s triple crown winner leading the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. Oh, and he pitched a perfect game on September 9, 1965.

This 1966 Topps point-of-sale booklet gives us a glimpse into the past, uncovering the strategies employed by Topps, and gives us a deeper understanding of the inner workings of the baseball card market during the mid-1960s. These pages might not have the biggest monetary value, but their historical significance in baseball card collecting can’t be understated. Happy collecting, and don’t forget to check out the latest Post War Cards Newsletter on Substack.

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