The other week, I shared the details of an extraordinary Topps 1964 Baseball Gift Box. As promised, this article will focus on another captivating find shared by the same collector—a, perhaps hobby unique, 1964 O-Pee-Chee/Topps Baseball Box. This remarkable box provides a fascinating glimpse into the intriguing relationship between these iconic brands. In this one, I’ll share details of this empty Canadian Topps box, discuss the 1964 Topps 4-card packs adorned with O-Pee-Chee labels, and draw parallels to earlier Topps sets that featured similar patterns because, remember, O-Pee-Chee didn’t issue a unique baseball set until 1965.
When the owner of this box first reached out, he shared the following two pictures.
He mentioned that he thought it was a 1964 OPC box and that it was the only one he had ever seen from his many years of collecting and asked if I was aware of it or knew anything about it. I wondered how he got it, and he wrote that it was listed on eBay as a 1964 Topps box but wasn’t in the greatest condition for $125, but something looked strange, and after a week or so of watching the item, he decided to buy it. He then shared the following two pictures of the box open flat. It’s interesting how it goes together with the tabs, unlike any other wax box we have ever seen.
A few differences exist between this O-Pee-Chee box and the regular Topps boxes. First, the box shows it held 36 packs, while regular Topps wax boxes (picture follows) were 24-count boxes.
Next, the flap only leads with “Made in Canada by O-PEE-CHEE…” and says “Printed in Canada,” while the Topps flaps show with “Topps Chewing Gum, Inc., Brooklyn…” and say Printed in U.S.A.
Next, the side of the box that’s yellow ends with “by the makers of ‘young Canada’s favourite'” rather than “by the makers of ‘young America’s favorite.'”
There’s a chance it was some sort of prototype, but it also could have housed the 4-Card 1964 Topps Baseball wax packs that have a slightly different design and “Made and Distributed in Canada By O-PEE-CHEE” printed on them.
Here’s an example of an American Topps wrapper; notice the black text, the black circle around the word Topps, and the different copyright distribution on the right-hand side.
Back in May 2006, Heritage Auctions offered a lot of fifteen unopened 1964 O-Pee-Chee 4-Card baseball wax packs for sale.
They wrote that the wrappers were 100% Canadian, but the cards inside were the same Topps product sold in the United States. The lot closed at $6572.50.
A collector selling a raw pack on eBay noted that they had purchased five of these packs, and the other four all yield first series cards. They also pointed out that these 1964 O-Pee-Chee baseball cards are identical to their Topps counterparts, but they were cut differently and yielded more cards with slight rough cuts on their right and left edges.
Another example was a Facebook conversation on the Vintage Wax and Packs group. Kurt Christensen wrote that a pack that a collector shared asking for information about was one of his consignments and that he had started with 12. He said it contained Topps cards. However, OPC wrapped the pack in Canada.
As I said, I think it’s likely that this 1964 OPC box housed those 4-Card wax packs. So the Canadian box would have held 36 of these 4-card wax packs (144 cards), and the American boxes would have held 24 5-card wax packs (120 cards).
Some could argue that it was a unique test release, but there were also special 4-card packs with Canadian distribution/printing in 1963.
There have been a few discussions about these 1963 packs on the Facebook Vintage Wax and Packs group where folks recalled that there was also a find of 1954 Topps packs about a decade ago that had four cards rather than the standard five; you can see examples on the Unopened Archive. There are also a few known 1955 Topps boxes with 36 packs and 4 picture cards per pack, just like the 1964 OPC box that’s been the focus of this article. The packs had U.S. card versions, suggesting that the companies were testing the Canadian market before starting the actual OPC sets for quite a while. Another collector mentioned that he knew of a few 1960 Topps 4-card packs, presumably Canadian-issued, but I haven’t seen one before.
With distinct differences from regular Topps boxes, such as the pack count and the unique wording on the flaps, this 1964 OPC baseball box is really interesting. My conclusion is that the box likely housed the 4-Card 1964 Topps Baseball wax packs, which featured a slightly different design and were made and distributed in Canada by O-Pee-Chee. Similar instances of unique pack variations have been observed in previous years, indicating a pattern of companies testing the Canadian market before introducing official O-Pee-Chee sets in 1965. To me, this sort of discovery and analysis is what’s so alluring about the hobby, and it provides further insight into the evolving understanding of post-war baseball card production and distribution. Happy collecting, and don’t forget to check out The Post War Cards Newsletter.