You can imagine the challenges faced by the Topps Company as it plotted some drastic changes in its 1965 football card product. Having settled for the AFL as it watched Swell’s Philadelphia Gum take over the much more desirable NFL trading card contract, Topps must have felt like it needed to make its product stand out.
Instead of the 2 1/1” x 3 ½” dimension that had become the standard for virtually all of its trading cards, Topps went big.
They designed a large, rectangular card that was still 2-1/2” wide but over an inch taller at 4-11/16. To young fingers, they must have seemed enormous.
From a production standpoint, it must have involved a few extra meetings at the company’s New York City offices. Once they agreed on a size change, they had to figure out how many cards they’d be producing, how to format the production sheet, how to create a new wrapper and box of a different size than had ever been used before, how to create a case to hold the new size of box, how many cards would be put in the pack and what type of insert to include, if any. All the while, you can also bet they were wondering if all of that effort would result in increased sales.
The decision was made to stick with the standard 24-pack box with five cards in each pack. The display box would include what was meant to look like a generic football player on the front but any fan will recognize the color and uniform design as that of the New York Giants. You wonder what the NFL office thought of that, since Topps was no longer a partner. The front of the box would include an ad for the “Magic Rub Off Emblem” that was inserted into each pack. Those emblems included AFL and college team logos.
More Pack Facts after the gallery…
Once Joe Namath spurned the NFL and signed with the New York Jets, the level of excitement must have spiked and Topps famously hustled to get a photo of the Alabama rookie into its set—an usual occurrence in an era when most players didn’t get a “rookie card” until they were beginning their second year in the pros
A complete set included 176 cards and there’s some disagreement about the “single prints” in the set. There’s some compelling information to indicate a full sheet held 198 cards—a full set plus 22 double prints, rather than the commonly held belief that single prints abound.
Wrappers included ads for the usual types of Topps premiums: sunglasses, a toy battleship and cowboy paraphernalia. Today, the wrappers are popular with quality examples typically offered on eBay for $150-$200.
Despite offering much larger cards, Topps maintained its 5-cent price point and would do so for four more years. Football cards generally weren’t big sellers at the time and Topps eschewed any other kind of packaging for its 1965 cards (at least as far as we know). There were apparently no rack or cello packs issued and as far as we know, no vending boxes either.
Few complete unopened wax packs survived and until a couple of years ago, it was thought there were no complete wax boxes. The much publicized “beer case find” changed that. Members of a Tennessee family that once produced non-sport trading cards had stuck away multiple boxes of various Topps and Bowman products over parts of four decades, including two ’65 Topps football boxes: one full, the other missing three packs. They consigned them to Mile High Card Company, where they sold in September of 2017 for $145,746 and $106,150, respectively.
Display boxes are a hot commodity with collectors. They’re available, but expect to pay at least several hundred dollars for one.