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View Full Version : 1950s Topps Production Numbers - A clue


scottglevy
04-27-2019, 04:21 AM
I’ve been interested in this topic for some time but haven’t seen anything beyond speculation ... until I read this blog...

https://boblemke.blogspot.com/2013/05/1951-61-topps-sales-numbers-discovered.html?m=1

Hobby veteran Bob Lemke breaks down the sales numbers that Topps was legally forced to disclose up until 1961. While wholesale sales numbers have limitations - for instance no breakout by series - it is a solid clue to what was happening during the early years of Topps production.

Here’s a link to the actual 112 page government document - which fascinatingly also discloses other sales figures as early as 1933 Goudey

https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/documents/commission_decision_volumes/volume-67/ftcd-vol67january-june1965pages744-855.pdf

For those who want the “cliff notes” to this. Here’s a chart of 1951-1961 topps sales
https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-znGUIjMr3PI/UYq7YAd1WgI/AAAAAAAADyY/IPwsGdPB-nw/s1600/FTC+Topps+chart.jpg

ALBB
04-27-2019, 07:18 AM
interesting... now that's dollars your showing ? how would that break down to actual cards distributed ?

vintagebaseballcardguy
04-27-2019, 08:26 AM
Interesting that you posted this because I have been thinking about this very topic. I went to the big show in Frisco that Leon put together yesterday. I was struck by the tremendous quantities of 1950s Topps and Bowman available. I especially noticed the Topps cards. There were tons of them available. By contrast, there were a few dealers with a decent selection of caramel and tobacco cards, but in terms of volume and sheer representation it was really lopsided. I don't really have a big point to make here. It was just shocking how relatively common and available many of the 50s cards, stars included, were.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

ALBB
04-27-2019, 09:01 AM
Oh yea...millions of each card printed ,even from the 50s

insidethewrapper
04-27-2019, 09:16 AM
I thought everybody's mother threw their cards out in the garbage. (Fake News)

scottglevy
04-27-2019, 09:35 AM
interesting... now that's dollars your showing ? how would that break down to actual cards distributed ?

Real quick back of the envelope math. These are whole dollars. Assuming that each card retailed for 1 penny ... which is about right for the early 50s ... they probably wholesaled for less than half that. But to keep the math simple letís just say half a cent each. If your total gum sales were $1 million and your price per card were half a penny, you produced and sold 200 million cards each year during the early 50s. If each set had roughly 400 cards ... 500,000 of each player was printed. Now of course series vary, survival rates vary, etc etc. but looks like a decent starting point to me.

ALR-bishop
04-27-2019, 09:59 AM
I read this decision sometime back when trying to find out if Topps in some wy thwarted a 2nd series of the Fleer 1963 set. I think poor sales rather than Topps was the culprit.

The FTC decision linked above did not stand. The FTC eventually found Topps did not improperly monoplize baseball cards sold individually or with gum and or confections. It was noted the cards could still be sold with other products without violating the Topps "exclusive" contracts. But see the interesting discussion of baseball cards and gum, cookies, marbles and cereal beginning at the bottom of page 806 in the linked FTC case

Exhibitman
04-27-2019, 02:28 PM
Some fascinating tidbits in the opinion:

Gum Products, Inc. quit making cards because Johnny Mize sued for using his picture without permission.

Leaf lost a suit to Bowman over the 1948-49 sets and agreed to leave the market, then concluded that it wasn't worth issuing cards again because Topps had shut it out of the market by the early 1950s

Bowman sued Topps and won but decided to get out of the business and sold Topps its rights.

How little money the players got was amazing. Topps could bind every player in organized ball for five years for about $32,000 a year, plus another $40,000 to the ones who made the show and were on cards. This against product sales in the millions. No wonder it took Marvin Miller's strategic non-renewal to force Topps to up the pay.

spec
04-27-2019, 02:42 PM
Did Mize appear in any Play Ball set?

Exhibitman
04-27-2019, 03:25 PM
My error; he sued Gum Products Inc. over the 1941 Double Play cards, not Gum Inc. for Play Ball.

Bigdaddy
04-27-2019, 06:57 PM
There is a similar thread (http://www.net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=266800&highlight=production+numbers) on the post-war side. Interesting to make guesses on the survival rate.

topcat61
04-29-2019, 12:41 PM
Some fascinating tidbits in the opinion:

Gum Products, Inc. quit making cards because Johnny Mize sued for using his picture without permission.

Leaf lost a suit to Bowman over the 1948-49 sets and agreed to leave the market, then concluded that it wasn't worth issuing cards again because Topps had shut it out of the market by the early 1950s

Bowman sued Topps and won but decided to get out of the business and sold Topps its rights.

How little money the players got was amazing. Topps could bind every player in organized ball for five years for about $32,000 a year, plus another $40,000 to the ones who made the show and were on cards. This against product sales in the millions. No wonder it took Marvin Miller's strategic non-renewal to force Topps to up the pay.

Mize's case was dismissed I believe in August of 1941 on appeal.