The whimsical nature of graphics adorning vintage Topps football wax wrappers through the years, has resulted in a collectible which can go above and beyond the cardboard treasures contained within. Set collectors often include a wrapper sample to bring completeness or closure to the overall set presentation. For many current and former collectors, the process of opening a pack of cards brings back childhood memories. From the slippery feel of the pack, the careful nature of cracking the glue seal, the anticipation as the wrapper is unfolded, to the instantaneous blast of bubble gum given off by the sweet confectionery treat, this seemingly routine event is a moment in time that accounts for a super-sensory experience on many different levels.
More than a mere carrying case or delivery system, the wax packs themselves served to advertise the product as it sat on candy and dime store counters and shelves. The enticing promise of gum and cards for just a nickel proved to be a destination source for many childhood allowances through the years. Long before websites, social media, blasters, sell sheets, dedicated card shops and conventions, the corner store was the gathering place to acquire cardboard images of one's favorite players. The only means of marketing the product at the store level was the display box and the actual wrappers. As a result, Topps experimented with different box designs and color schemes for their product's packaging.
A large number of wrappers were obviously discarded, forever condemned to life in a landfill. The rare samples that were preserved by astute collectors can command hefty sums on the secondary market. The hobby has evolved to the point where wrappers are now a gradable commodity, as well as the even rarer, unopened wax packs. Many football card sets were produced with multiple versions based on the number of the series and the number of cards per pack. Some years also offered multiple designs in similar styles for test marketing and to give the illusion that the contents within might be different. Advertising on the edges of the pack were often changed, creating variants that are often pursued by pack collectors and has become a bonafide niche itself.
Topps Football Wrappers Gallery: 1950 -1980
The gallery below features a single wrapper example for each year between 1950 and 1980.
Click on each wrapper to display a larger image. The year of the pack is visible when you mouse over each image.
Which one do you like the best? Post in the comments below.