After four years relegated to producing trading cards for the American Football League, Topps charged back to the forefront in 1968, winning back the NFL and the AFL It was the start of a 21-year run in which they were the exclusive manufacturer of pro football cards.
The good thing for (mostly) young buyers of bubble gum? Packs were still a nickel.
Courtesy of VintageBreaks.com, here’s a roundup of the packaging of 1968 Topps football–and more.
- 1968 Topps football cards were produced in two series: #1-131 and #132-219). The rookie card of Bob Griese (#196) is in the second series but otherwise, there aren’t a huge number of notable first year players. Andy Russell, Floyd Little, Jim Hart and Craig Morton are among them. The strength of the checklist is in the number of Hall of Famers that came with the combining of the two leagues into one set.
- Each 1968 Topps football wax pack contained five cards. The first series had one of 16 insert posters featuring stars of the day (complete sets can be found today on eBay for $50-$100) while the second series featured a Topps “Standup” insert (22 in all). The Standup sets start at around $150.
- Each wax box contained 24 packs. They’re rare today but do exist. A first series box sold at auction for $15,600 in April of this year. Another box (series unknown) went for $15,437 last October. Just eight years earlier, a box sold for “only” $3,819, illustrating the remarkable rise of vintage unopened material in the market.
- Ads on the sides of the 1968 Topps football wrappers included offers for a Bazooka Joe sweatshirt, a “chemical magic set,” a plastic “initial ring” and magnet set. You can pick up a wrapper on eBay for $30-$50.
- Topps also produced rack packs with three separately wrapped cello packs, each containing 12 cards. Each rack held 36 cards and sold for 29 cents. As usual, if you could afford them, the rack packs were a better deal for those who were all about the cards rather than the stick of gum since the racks didn’t have any. Unopened rack packs of 1968 Topps football are rare today. In 2013, one containing a Joe Namath on the front sold for $1,896
- As far as anyone knows, Topps didn’t produce traditional cello packs sold by themselves. Vintage Breaks is currently offering break spots for one of those second series rack cellos.
- Vending boxes were produced with the usual count of 500 cards. A second series vending box sold at auction for $8,260 in December 2016.
- Complete sets of 1968 Topps football are available on eBay starting at around $650 for one of relatively good quality.
You can learn more about participating in vintage pack breaks—or just watch—by visiting VintageBreaks.com.