Friday, January 22, 2010

Airbrushing in the Fifties

A couple days ago, while writing about the airbrush jobs on the deckle edge cards, I said that Topps didn't start airbrushing on color cards until 1973. But now, it looks like I was wrong.

Paging through my '50's binder a few days ago, I stopped short when I got to 1957. A couple cards didn't look right, and after a closer look, it seems as if there were at least three Cubs who had a color airbrush job.

First, this card of Ray Jablonski. 1957 was his first season with the Cubs, so Topps didn't have the chance to get him in his Cubs uniform. Do you want to guess who he played for in 1956? The vest should help narrow it down. In 1956, only one team wore them, the Cincinnati Reds. So who did Jablonski played for in '56? Yup, the Reds. Topps did a major color change on this card, and it doesn't look too bad. They changed the hat, put the "Chicago" on the jersey, and even made the stirrups the right color and added the red stripes. Now here's an even weirder thing: Topps went to all of this trouble for nothing. The Cubs traded Jablonski on Opening Day before he ever played a regular season game.

Poholsky was picked up by the Cubs in December, 1956 from the Cardinals. To fix this card, the bat on birds was painted over and the CAGO was added. Again, not a bad job, especially by 1950's standards.

Here is the last of the three, Charlie Silvera. The Cubs got him from the Yankees. If you look carefully, you can see that the artist left the Yankees' pinstripes on the uniform, but replaced the NY with just a little of the CHICAGO just under Charlie's left arm. Red stripes were also added to the stirrups.

1957 was the first year that Topps featured actual photos on the cards, and it looks like they went the extra mile to make them look nice.

Too bad they started slacking off in the years that followed and we ended up with gems like this.

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