After producing its largest set ever in 1972, Topps scaled back to a 660-card set in ’73 and was in the midst of a landmark change in how its flagship set was created, delivered and collected. The whole process was a bit of an experiment.
This week’s edition of Vintage Pack Facts from VintageBreaks.com looks at how Topps marketed its first set of the “660 era.”
Things may have gotten a bit complicated for Topps in the 70s and maybe they heard complaints about the difficulty of putting together a 700+ card set that was issued in various series that weren’t always accessible to collectors. Whatever the reason, the company simplified things in ’73, creating a 660-card set that was printed on five different production sheets. No double prints; no single prints and at least in some parts of the country, no series. Topps had begun the process of making all of the cards from its set available at one time but it wouldn’t be fully implemented until 1974.
- Not much changed with regard to packs. Wax packs remained 10 cents with ten cards in each (24 packs in a box). Cello packs of 27 cards were a quarter (24 packs per box). Rack packs held 54 cards and cost just 39 cents.
- The wax pack wrappers? Now that was different. There were several different artistic designs used and all were available inside those 24-count wax boxes, which immediately led young collectors to wonder if there was any significance between the design of the wrapper and what was inside. There wasn’t. Today’s collectors do chase those wrapper variations on eBay, though.
- The wax boxes have a few different variations. Most we see offered today include a tab on the right front that says “Hey Kids.” Others have “1st Series” or “2nd Series” while some promote the existence of a somewhat rare insert, stating “Extra! Team Checklist in Each Pack!” Those checklists had a very limited U.S. distribution but were more commonly found in O-Pee-Chee packs.
- The wrappers included various offers including two record albums, a ball/strike indicator and a batting glove.
- While most of the country saw cards again distributed in series, spread out over a roughly five-month period, Topps did offer an “all series” product in certain areas including Florida. Those packs are where you’ll find the blue checklists. In researching this story, I came across this photo showing a note Topps stuck in the top of boxes that were distributed to stores, promoting the new idea of a box that held cards from the entire set.
- Series 4 wax boxes are most commonly found today with selling prices over the last couple of years generally ranging from $4,000 to $6,000.
- Vintage Breaks is currently offering spots in a 2nd series wax pack break (Nolan Ryan series). You can watch a previous break below.
You can learn more about participating in vintage pack breaks—or just watch—by visiting VintageBreaks.com.