Thanks to the generosity of Matt, Ken, and Howard, I got the cards I needed to repack my wax wrappers. I now have a pack for each of the years I have a Topps complete set, 1969 through 2009.
Today I am showing the wax wrappers of the ‘70’s (plus 1969).
The first year I bought cards was 1969. The cards were 5¢ per pack, with 5 cards per pack, plus the gum. The gum was always an afterthought; it was the cards I was after.
It had been 40 years since I held one of these in my hands. A five card pack is very thin and light, feeling like you’ve got almost nothing in your hand. But holding it brings back a ton of memories. I would get the cards by riding my bike to the pet shop on 95th Street. For some reason, the pet shop had a huge candy counter in the front of the store. You could get all sorts of penny candy, wax lips, candy cigarettes, pixie sticks…and baseball cards. If we felt like riding in a different direction, the variety store at 103rd and Cicero had a candy section, too. Or, we would bug Mom to pick up a pack or two when she did her Saturday grocery shopping at National.
The price of the cards changed slightly in 1970, raised to 10¢ per pack, 10 cards per pack. It still works out to a penny a card, but with less gum. That was not a big deal. The ten card packs feel most comfortable in my hands; it’s the size and feel that I remember most.
After four years, the price went up in 1974 to 15¢ per pack, 10 cards per pack. This was the first time that Topps cards topped the penny a card price. Darn inflation! It would be four more years before another price hike. In 1978, the price went up to 20¢, but they also upped the number of cards in the pack to 12. By this time I was in high school and earning some money, so I opted to buy the complete set. No more wax, gum, or annoying doubles for me. It was all 726 cards at once!
When you look at all eleven packs together, you see that Topps changed the wrapper design for each year except for two. The 1974 and 1976 wrappers were almost identical.
All of the wrappers did share some common elements. They all included a small Topps logo and except for ’74 & ’76, they included a drawing of a baseball player. The uniforms were always generic, not any one particular team. The wrappers also made heavy use of red, yellow and blue. The only year missing those colors was 1972, which, ironically, was the year of Topp’s most colorful card design.
When I repacked the wrappers, I packed them the way I wish they were originally. First, there were no doubles. It made this little boy very mad to get two cards of the same guy, especially since you never got doubles of anybody good. It was usually some Indian or Pirate that I could care less about (apologies to Indians and Pirates fans!)
But the bigger packing change I made was something that I could only dream of as a boy: at least one Cub in every pack!