Swell brand bubble gum is what they were really selling. It’s all over the packaging of Philadelphia Chewing Gum’s trading cards in the 1960s. For football card collectors, though, it’s those “Philly Gum” cards that are most memorable. Nostalgia if you’re old enough. Retro fun if you’re not.
Philadelphia Gum had wrestled the NFL trading card license away from Topps in time for the 1964 season and kept it for four years. The look and size of the sets didn’t very much. The most colorful issue was that final run in ’67, when Vince Lombardi’s Packers were on their way to winning Super Bowl II.
- As it did in 1964, ’65 and ’66, the complete set included 198 cards, with the set numbered in alphabetical order by team. There were team cards, logo cards and checklists. There are no exceptionally valuable rookie cards in the set but about one in every eight cards is a Hall of Famer.
- Philadelphia Gum produced wax packs, cello packs and rack packs (two versions) for its 1967 set.
- Wax packs contained five cards and were priced at 5 cents. Today, they’re quite rare. Only a small number of unopened boxes and packs are known to exist. Graded packs are generally valued at $400-$700, depending on condition.
- Cello packs were wrapped in a blue and yellow wrapper with a general Swell trading cards display box that included a sticker on the front stating “1967 Football.” Each 12-card pack was priced at 10 cents with 36 packs per box.
- There was a small find of unopened cello boxes in the 1980s but full boxes are still scarce today. A single pack with Herb Adderly showing on the back sold in 2018 for $1,228 via Mile High Card Company. Your humble writer once owned a full cello box, but sadly opened or sold off most of them years ago.
- Standard rack packs offered youngsters the best deal…if you could find them. The 36 card packs sold for 29 cents and contained a header card with a punch hole where the rack was meant to hang on a display. Most were found in toy or department stores. In 2012, a rack pack with a Johnny Unitas card showing sold for $2,390 through Heritage Auctions.
- In 2007, Lelands offered a different type of rack pack in one of its auctions. This variation was more square in nature, thanks to a large header with the phrase “Card Collectors Club” on it. The pack sold for $3,182.
- Wax and cello wrappers are readily available on eBay today, with most generally inexpensive.