1970 Topps Rack and Tray Packs: An Overview

The following is an excerpt from The Collector’s Guide to 1970 Baseball Cards, produced by Sports Collectors Daily and the Unopened Pack Guy

The price of a wax pack from a nickel to a dime in 1970. While that doesn’t mean much now, back then if you had a small paper route and earned $1.20/week in tips (which wasn’t too bad), you could feel rich and purchase one full wax box to rip open.  Now however, you would need to work 2 weeks just to buy that same 24 pack wax box!  Rack packs went from 29 cents in ’69 to 39 cents in ’70.

It is believed the invention of real Topps rack packs began in 1960, so by 1970, this was a fairly familiar item for kids to purchase.    When considering each series had 132 cards or less, theoretically, a kid could buy three packs and get the entire series (assuming perfect collation) for about $1.17, or less than ½ the cost of purchasing a wax box.

In addition, kids could pick and choose the racks they wanted by the cards that were showing through the front and backs of the packs.  Kids loved these but parents seemed to prefer to purchase 10 cent wax packs vs spending (or wasting, depending on the parent’s perspective) 39 cents for baseball cards.

The ironic thing is that from a business perspective Topps was offering parents a 28% discount when purchasing a rack pack – consider this:

  • Purchase a wax pack, 10 cards for 10 cents    – kid pays .01/card
  • Purchase a cello pack, 33 cards for 25 cents   – kid pays .0076/card (about ¾ of a penny per card)
  • Purchase a rack pack, 54 cards for 39 cents    – kid pays .0072/card (a little less than ¾ of a penny per card)

There is significant debate as to the earliest produced Topps Baseball Wax / Grocery Tray. It would appear that Topps started producing these in 1962. During the 1960’s there were tweaks to these from selling them as 3 wax packs and then shifting to 6 wax packs. By 1970, Topps shifted from a 6 pack wax tray to what eventually became their standard, a 3 pack wax tray.

These tray packs were and are still very popular amongst collectors, especially the older ones as they are significantly harder to fake or reseal. This item got its name from the way it was distributed. Remember, Topps was always fixated on marketing, so here is the marketing question… where are you almost certain to get your product in front of parents? How about the grocery store! Every parent has to pass through there at some point during the week. Thus Topps made a special pack for grocery stores.

This pack was actually a group of three packs that sat on a cardboard tray (complete with cross selling panel offers on the bottom), and the entire package was wrapped in a cellophane wrap with a green pricing logo.  These are especially hard to find, with perhaps only one or two–at most– coming on the market during the course of a year.

To read the rest of the unopened pack segment, and learn more about unopened boxes, packs, wrappers and the cards and players that make up the 1970 Topps set, get the 50+ page Collector’s Guide to 1970 Baseball Cards e-book for $4.97 available for download on your Kindle or Nook.  You can also view it on your PC by downloading the Kindle reader for PC. Click here to order via Amazon.com  or here to order for the Nook at Barnes & Noble.

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