I was scanning recent posts on an unopened sports card product Facebook page I’m a member of, and a collector shared an impressive image of a 1969 Topps Blue Wrapper Cello Pack they recently acquired. The comments were very congratulatory because it’s quite a rare pack. Not only is it a tough-to-come-by-pack, the 1969 Topps Blue Wrapper Cello Pack, while a test issue of sorts, was a sign of changes to come in the distribution of Topps sports cards.
The Blue Wrapper Cello was a one-year test issue for a new cello pack with ten cards. And the big picture on why they didn’t continue with ten card cellos is because they transitioned to ten card 10 cent wax packs instead and made the cello packs larger. So it’s likely Topps did this blue wrapper as a test for sales at a 10 cent price point. Sports Collectors Daily surmised the same when they wrote that “The ten-cent cost may have been aimed at getting youngsters used to the higher cost of packs that was coming across the board. The ten-cent cellos contained ten cards and a decal and are also rare these days.”
First, the PSA population report is a bit tough to decipher, but it looks like they have graded only 5 blue wrapper 1969 Topps cello packs. There are quite a few GAI packs out there too. And for what it’s worth, the BBCExchange has a series 1 10-cent blue cello in PSA 7 for sale for $6600 at the time of publication, and I grabbed a screen capture that you can see below.
Now, back to the timeline, 1969 Topps Baseball Wax packs were 5 cents for five cards.
After the baseball season, perhaps after analyzing how the 10-cents for 10 card blue wrapper Cellos sold, Topps raised the wax pack prices to 10 cents for 12 cards in the 1969 Topps Football set.
Then in 1970, Topps followed suit and raised the price of baseball packs to 10 cents as well, but for only ten cards, rather than 12 like football the year earlier.
Almost all Cello packs from 1957-69 came with 12 cards in a pack, but Topps raised that number after 1969. 1970 Topps Cello packs had 33 cards for 25 cents. 1971 Topps Cellos had 30 cards for 25 cents. And in 1972, Topps had just 27 cards for 25 cents. On a per-card basis, cards from cello were less than a penny.
If you are curious about Cello pack boxes, most 1950s and 1960s Topps Cello Boxes had 36 packs. In 1967, 1968, and 1969 Topps switched to 48 pack boxes (I’m unaware of any blue wrap cello boxes to compare). From 1970 to 1989, Topps Cello Boxes had 24 packs in a box.
From both a wax and cello pack perspective, Topps made a lot of changes around the 1969 Topps timeframe. The blue wrapper cellos foreshadowed those changes to collectors. Wax pack prices went up and contained more cards, and Cello pack card counts went up as well (but compared to wax, a slightly better cost per card).
If you’re a wax or cello pack collector from this era, let me know down in the comments, and don’t forget to follow PostWarCards on Twitter for more card chats.