Historically, quality control was never a forte of the Topps company. And people with a background in printing will tell you that throwing material away is equivalent to throwing money away. Therefore, when it comes to vintage unopened, there are a lot of examples, and random variations, to the way Topps packaged and distributed cards to squeeze out a profit. In this article, I’ll share a few examples.
First, a Baseball Card Exchange Facebook group post about a box break of 1979 Topps baseball cards, in which all the cards in the box were from sheet C of the set, inspired this post. There was a lot of drama because sheet C has virtually no star power, so people complained and thought the box was bogus. Steve Hart authenticated the box the ripper used, and Steve explained, in the post, that he stood behind the box. Hart explained that the print on the wrappers appeared to be similar, and the centering and print on the cards in the rip were consistent. Steve presumed that Topps had a bunch of C sheets and distributed them that way. In the comments, he explained that it would be nearly impossible, or sheer dumb luck, to build a box like that on your own and that the layout of the box all but guaranteed that the 36 packs were original packs from that box.
Anyway, Steve provided a few other examples of odd Topps vintage card distributions, so I thought I would share them.
In 1975, Topps must have had a lot of extra sheets continuing cards 1-264 because there are cases of vending boxes with only these cards in them, which is nice because George Brett (#228) and Robin Yount’s (#223) rookies are in them.
Topps used 1975 Topps baseball display boxes for 1977 Topps baseball wax boxes.
Topps used 1976 Topps hockey wrappers for 1977 Topps hockey packs.
Topps used 1979 Topps football display boxes for 1981 Topps football packs.
Topps used 1981 Topps baseball display boxes for 1985 Topps baseball wax boxes. The pictured label from the Ripping Vintage Packs site doesn’t quite match the description, but I’ve seen these boxes before.
And they also used 1981 Topps football display boxes for 1983 Topps football boxes.
Here are a few more examples I’ve found over the years.
A 1985 Topps baseball in a 1982 Topps display box.
A 1976 Topps baseball wax pack in a 1974 Topps wrapper.
A 1971 Topps baseball wax pack w/ 1970 wrapper.
A 1963 Topps football wax pack in a 1962 wrapper.
A 1965 Topps baseball pack in a 1964 wrapper.
And a 1980 Topps football box in 1979 Topps wrappers.
There are a ton more examples, like mixes of baseball and football cards in packs, vending cases from single sheets, and others that I hope readers will share in the comments. But the takeaway is that if you decide to rip vintage products, Topps wasn’t super consistent, so you may get surprised by what you find. Even “from a sealed case” boxes (FASC) can have surprises.
Remember, the “value” of the cards out of a box or pack rarely meet the price of the unopened product they came from. Unopened product price is usually scarcity-driven. And also, know that every authenticator has and will make mistakes, educate yourself as much as you can if you enter this part of the hobby, and happy collecting!