Much larger sets were coming soon, but in 1971, football card collecting was the same as it had been. Two series of 263 cards and inserts. This time though, the insert was interactive: game cards and player posters that occupied hours upon hours of chilly autumn and early winter days and nights for kids around the country.
The costs remained much the same too.
This week’s edition of Vintage Pack Facts zeroes in on 1971 Topps football.
- Topps produced packs for both the first and second series, with the second series wax boxes identified by a red and white label attached to the top.
- Boxes maintained the stepping stone kind of size that was adopted in 1970: a flat, 24-pack box, green and red, with a modified image of Daryle Lamonica on the top of the box (he undoubtedly received no royalties for being the shadowed face of Topps packaging). Wax packs contained eight cards plus an insert poster with a “playing field” design on back, complete with scoreboard and a single game card of a star player that determined the result of the “play” when it was flipped over. Simple? Yes, but hey, it was 1971 and sports video games were still several years away.
- Wrappers contained ads on the side panel; one for Topps Big Buddy Gum, another for Gold Rush candy and there were also main-in offers for a cheap camera and a whale’s tooth good luck charm.
- More Pack Facts after the gallery…
- Topps also produced 23-card cello packs that were housed, for the second straight year, in a cardboard outer box with a window that allowed you to see who was on top. Those who lived on the edge opened the box to check out who was on the back before placing the pack back inside. The price of 25 cents was printed on the box.
- Rack packs contained 54 cards at a price of 39 cents.
- 500-count vending boxes were shipped to the few existing sports card dealers and vending machine companies at the time. A vending box sold at auction for nearly $6,000 in 2016. Most surviving boxes had been held in the inventory of Larry Fritsch Cards.
- Earlier this decade, Baseball Card Exchange purchased 19 unopened 1971 Topps football boxes from a Florida seller, mostly 2nd series. All were sold to collectors within a month.
- While some wax boxes, cello packs and the occasional rack pack have made it to the open market in recent years, they’re all quite scarce. A Series 2 box sold for $28,800 at Heritage Auctions in July of 2018. Single packs of 1971 Topps football sell for hundreds of dollars.
- Even wrappers and empty cello pack boxes fetch fairly strong prices on eBay.