Vintage Baseball Card Sales Numbers and the Topps Monopoly

With the announcement of Topps going public again, I wanted to take a look back at the early days of Topps as a card company, particularly the Federal Trade Commission decision regarding a complaint made against Topps Chewing Gum, Inc alegging unfair competition methods in gaining control of the baseball card picture industry.

Topps Chewing Gum Inc FTC Decision

As you can see in the image above, the court dismissed the case on April 30, 1965, for insufficient evidence. 

While there is a lot of legal jargon, attempting to allege a “monopoly in the manufacture and distribution of baseball picture cards, in commerce,” what I find equally fascinating, as a collector, is the reporting of sports card sales numbers from Topps, Bowman, Goudey, and Fleer found in the complaint. 

First Goudey Sales: 

Vintage Goudey Baseball Card Sales

Next Bowman Sales: 

Vintage Bowman Baseball Card Sales

Topps sales in those years were as follows: 

Early 50s Topps Baseball Card Sales

Topps sales once there were no Bowman cards were (“Baseball card gum” being packs with gum in them, and “Baseball cards” being releases like vending boxes, cello, and rack packs that didn’t have gum): 

1957-1961 Topps Baseball Card Sales

And finally Fleer sales figures: 

Vintage Fleer Baseball Card Sales

I’ll pour through this 112-page document in the future to see what other insights we can glean about the post-war baseball card market and the impact Topps’ actions as a company were on its competitors. That will come in the future as a Part-2 to this article. But these numbers are our best insight into figuring out how many cards Topps, and other companies, actually produced in the early post-war era. 

Don’t forget to follow PostWarCards on Twitter for more vintage sports card discussions.

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