When most collectors think of Topps, their mind generally goes to baseball cards. But the company produced a wide variety of non-card issues and the 1960 Topps Tattoos release was a unique collectible. Tattoos? Yup…well, sort of. There was no artist needed, no painful procedures–and any regrets could be quickly washed away.
Here’s a bit more on this oddball issue from decades ago.
1960 Topps Tattoos Basics
The colorful 1960 Topps card set is a popular vintage issue among collectors. But the company produced a secondary product that year with the Tattoos. Like the card set (and just about every other Topps sports product), they were another way to sell the company’s bubble gum. Instead of being packaged with cards, however, Topps simply produced temporary tattoos on the insides of the wrappers. The tattoo could be applied by pressing it against wet skin.
In all, the set included 96 different tattoos. Most were individual players, but there were also pictures of team logos, action shots, and even autographed baseballs. The wrappers measured about 1 1/2″ wide and 3 1/2″ tall with the actual tattoo being significantly smaller than that.
Interestingly, despite being nearly 60 years old, unopened packs of 1960 Topps Tattoos can still be found. There generally isn’t much suspense with those, however. With a relatively thin wrapper, the tattoo in question can be seen through it and with only one per pack, it’s easy to determine the tattoo inside. But they are in demand because they can contain high-grade tattoos.
While some unopened packs can be found at a very inexpensive price, as a whole, these tattoos are not incredibly common. As you can imagine, most were probably either used by the collector or discarded since they were merely on the backs of wrappers. A very small population was likely saved and remained unused.
Fifty-six of the 96 stamps feature players and the group is headlined by Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron. Other big names in the set include Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Ernie Banks, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Harmon Killebrew, Roger Maris, Eddie Mathews, Frank Robinson, and many others.
The subsets are generally less desirable. In addition to the logos and action shots, there is some interest in the autographed baseballs because they, too, feature players to some degree. The autographed Mantle ball is key here and others include Mays and Musial. Those featured a picture of a baseball with the player’s autograph. For those unfamiliar with (or unable to read) the signatures, the player’s name and team are also printed on the tattoo.
The team tattoos are self explanatory and pictured the franchise’s logo. All 16 major league teams were available and are roughly all desired about the same. A small premium is placed on the tattoos for the World Series teams that year, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees. Finally, the action shots feature generic pictures of baseball players with no names. A total of 15 of those are found in the issue.
As a whole, this issue is a relatively inexpensive one. Common tattoos can be found for as little as $10-$20 in mid-grade shape. They aren’t overly common, though, so completing a set is a significant challenge. The biggest hurdle from a price standpoint is finding decent copies of the Mantle base tattoo, which start in the $300-$400 range, depending on condition. Unopened pack prices range depending on condition and the player included. However, those containing commons are usually available for under $50.
It is worth pointing out that there are very few tattoos that have achieved a technical mid-grade score from grading companies. Almost all are at the lower end of the scale grading no higher than a 2 and, to date, none have been graded above a PSA 6. Collectors seeking graded copies will need to settle primarily with lower-graded examples.
You can see 1960 Topps Tattoos on eBay by clicking here.