The mysteries of Topps’ packaging and production during the first decade of the company’s existence have persisted. Records are scant. Recollections faded long ago. Some things we know but others have presented themselves in intriguing fashion to this day. Case in point… one of the lots in Heritage Auctions’ current trading card catalog.
Up for sale is a 1959 Topps vending box, with cards packaged in a way most of us have never seen. The recently consigned vending box is jam packed with crispy 1st series football cards—but not in the 500-count format that’s most familiar to collectors. This box includes 71 seven-card bundles, still wrapped tightly in brown paper strips, much like you see small stacks of currency.
Were they meant to fit inside certain vending machines? Created for carnivals? A promotion? Who knows.
The box measures 9 ¾” long—one inch longer than today’s standard measurement for a 500-count vending box, accommodating the bundle packaging.
The tape seal on the box has, not surprisingly, worn off over time and allows the lid to be opened where a peek inside showed the cards to still have bright white borders and crisp appearance.
“Heritage Auctions has reviewed the box and has confirmed that the cards are vending cut throughout and a proper distribution of cards are inside,” the company states in the auction listing.
There were two series of 1959 Topps football cards, but Series 1 is the one that’s loaded.
It’s where you’ll find the second year card of Jim Brown, third year issues of Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr and Paul Hornung and cards of other Hall of Famers including Frank Gifford and Bobby Layne.
Bidders haven’t been shy. With the buyer’s premium factored in, bidding has already passed $100,000.
The box is part of the second session of the auction, with bidding set to run through Friday, Jan. 27.