By Doug Koztoski
’Twas the holiday season, and all through the collection, the hobbyist gave some thought to exploring a little fresh direction. Oh what might they hunt for, an extra special treat, not too tough on the wallet and somewhat offbeat?
So here are some ideas, to perhaps add some spice, to a range of collectors, both naughty and nice. Consider something from this 1960s-70s list, for you or someone you know; without further adieu, here we go.
No. 10 – 1970 Kellogg’s baseball and football 3-D cards. Both issues appeared in boxes of various Kellogg’s cereal and marked the beginning of the mainstream three-dimensional sports card era. These 3-D cards came individually wrapped in the boxes, and you could purchase the entire set via mail, so top condition samples of these are much easier/more affordable to find than their 1971 counterparts, which could not be bought in full set form from the company.
The 75-card 1970 baseball set ($155-$300) features Johnny Bench, Roberto Clemente, Reggie Jackson, Willie Mays, Brooks and Frank Robinson, Pete Rose and Tom Seaver. Meanwhile, the 60-card 1970 Kellogg’s football set ($100-$200) includes Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, O.J. Simpson and Johnny Unitas.
No. 9 – 1961 Fleer World Series Champs stickers. In 1961 Fleer Baseball Greats packs, you could get a wide range of players including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and the recently retired Ted Williams. Those packs also contained a team logo and a World Series decal.
About half the size of a regular card, each Fall Classic sticker featured the year, the matchup and overall games result and the winning team’s logo for every season from 1913-60. Why Fleer did not have the 1903-12 Series’ stickers in the set is part of the offering’s quirky quality. These decals, if nothing else, can add a nice accent to one’s regular sets, and can be found for $5-$10 each in solid condition.
No. 8 – 1969-70 Topps basketball rulers. Regular basketball card sets were virtually non-existent in the 1960s, but Topps did jump into the game with the 1969-70 season. In addition to their “tall-boy” format cards this year, packs came with illustrated player inserts. When unfolded, the inserts stood about 10 inches tall and about the width of a card and showed the hoopster standing up against a ruler that measured his height.
Led by Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Wilt Chamberlain, John Havlicek, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West, these cartoon-like images are fairly uncommon. Raw samples in this 23-item set commonly sell in the $20-$35 range.
No. 7 – 1970-71 Topps basketball posters. Many of the same big name players from the rulers insert set the year before appear in this card pack bonus issue, as well. Underrated like the rulers from ’69-’70, these 24 posters measure around 8-by-10 inches and show color photography game action.
Sets of 1970-71 basketball posters have recently been passed from one collector to another for $125-$200 each.
No. 6 – 1967 Topps baseball posters. Perhaps the best sports insert posters of the period in terms of star power, picture quality and a solid price came out with the classic 1967 Topps baseball set.
The 32-poster issue, each measuring 5-by-7 inches, features a lineup of Clemente, Mays, the Robinsons of Orioles’ fame, Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Yaz and, oh yeah, Mickey Mantle. All the photos are posed, but they are mostly different from images seen on Topps cards. One can often find a decent condition set for $75-$125.
No. 5 – 1962 Topps football bucks. With both its baseball and football sets in 1962, Topps had “bucks” as inserts. Both have a close-up of a player within a dollar bill format, with the bigger name players on higher denomination notes. The baseball version has 96 players and can go for $1,500 to $2,000 in nice shape. The football version has half the size, but you can sometimes find the ’62 gridiron bucks set for $300-$400.
The 1962 football bucks feature Jim Brown, Bart Starr, Paul Hornung and Y.A. Tittle, established stars of the day, as well as Mike Ditka and Fran Tarkenton in their rookie card debut season. Like the posters and the basketball rulers mentioned above, the ’62 bucks are normally found with a crease, so they could fit into the packs.
No. 4 – 1960s Coke caps. From 1964-66 various Coca-Cola soft drink bottles, on the bottle cap undersides, included black-and-white helmetless pictures of pro football players, both AFL and NFL. Various cities had local team cap sets those years to spark collector interest, but most areas had at least the “all-star” caps, a sampling of the stars from around the emerging sport. Some locales had both.
In 1967 and 1968, Coke did the same style promotion with Major League Baseball players. Earlier in the decade, Coke tried a similar approach with NHL players, but the hockey types were shown on the outside of the cap.
Unless it is a true elite player on the bottle cap (Mantle, Clemente, Jim Brown, etc. at $25-$50 apiece), several of these 1960s Coke bottle caps can be found for just a few dollars each, at most.
The Coke caps can make a fun addition to a collection, and they do not take up much space. The hockey caps are, by far, harder to locate.
No. 3 – 1977 Wiffle Ball discs. Carl Yastrzemski was one of his era’s best left fielders, and I imagine this set entry comes totally out of left field for many collectors. Well, that is part of the fun for a piece on “offbeat” collectibles, don’t ya think? And, who has not had some fun playing some wiffle ball back in the day?
This set of 80 discs, with one included inside a wiffle ball box, is headed up by Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Johnny Bench, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt and, of course, Yaz. Expect to pay $20-$30 for the Ryan, but most of the other superstars are, at most, available for half that amount. Several players can be found for a buck or two each.
No. 2 – 1960s era Bazooka cards. Bazooka Gum/Topps first put baseball and football players on their boxes in 1959. The rest of the run, except for its last year of 1971, it was all MLB players, in some way, issued with the gum boxes.
Issued mostly in three-player panels, Bazooka cards from this time add a nice flavor to a collection. PSA 5 samples, for instance, can often be found for under $75, and it might even include an above average Hall of Famer or two.
No. 1 – 1972 Sunoco football stamps. Gas stations commonly had “giveaway” promotions years ago that required a minimum purchase, such as buying eight gallons or more at a time and getting a “free” item with the transaction.
With respect to sports, some of those advertising campaigns included drinking glasses and photographs or hats focusing on the local pro team. In 1972, Sunoco gave away nine-stamp football packs just for the asking – and one could get more if they actually bought some gas there.
Unopened packs of the 1972 Sunoco stamps can be found for $3-$4 with little effort. Terry Bradshaw, “Mean” Joe Greene, Joe Namath, Johnny Unitas and the Roger Staubach rookie stamp are among the 624 in the issue. The basic albums came with some stamps and can be bought for $20-$30. This is a nice vintage issue with a solid player and team selection, in most cases, and many of the colorful images show game play.
Wrapping it up
As a bonus gift idea, consider vintage wax pack wrappers and the display boxes the packs nestled in. Normally trashed just after purchase, older style wrappers and boxes are often a challenge to find in nice shape, but their artwork can be splendid.
Plus, a great way to show off the wrappers is to group one with a couple of cards from the same issue and either frame them or place the combo in an above average-sized screwdown case.
So there’s the list, to get the thought bubbles bubblin’. There are a host of choices, so your ideas should not be troublin’. On Mantle! On Unitas! The Big O! and Willie Mays! . . . Happy hunting to all and enjoy the holidays.
Doug Koztoski is a frequent contributor to SCD. He welcomes comments and questions related to this article at firstname.lastname@example.org. All prices in this article are rounded to the nearest dollar and come from recent eBay auction results and the October Chantilly, Va., show.