Monday, March 26, 2012

The "Knothole"

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that some sets have names assigned to them by collectors due to their designs. In that post, I also mentioned that Greg over at Night Owl Cards was compiling a more exhaustive list of "nickname" sets. He recently held another round of set "namings," which included this set:

The 1959 Topps set was dubbed "the Knothole set" due to the circular element in its design. That was first suggested by another fellow blogger, Jeff Carlson (who writes the Cardboard Catastrophes blog you see on my Blogroll), which is pretty good, except that Topps wasn't entirely original about it.

For instance, the circular design was just featured in the previous year's football set:

I know...this is technically an oval, not a circle. But it shows that Topps was toying with the concept.

However, if you want a real "knothole" look, you can look to a set produced earlier in 1958:

The 1958 Hires Root Beer set included the look in its design. And the cards were produced by Topps.Even that wasn't an original idea, as it was one of three designs being considered by Bowman for that company's 1956 set before Topps bought them out (Dave over at The Topps Archives has more on that).

The knothole has a long history of being associated with baseball, as far back as the days when team owners charged admission and built fences around their parks to keep onlookers from watching. The image of several kids jockeying to watch a game through a knothole in the fence (or even one where a policeman is looking after shooing them away) is as old as cards are. Several teams had "Knothole Gangs," and even Goudey featured one on its 1934 wrapper:

Going back to the "knothole"design, neither Topps, Bowman or Goudey could lay a claim on being the earliest:

Not when it was part of the design for the Imperial Tobacco set of 1912. Yes, it resembles a plaque more than a true knothole. But put it next to the Hires card and try to argue that it doesn't match.

1 comment:

  1. I have been looking at those 1912 Imperials on and off for a lil over a yr now. Really like the looks of them and would like to see them homaged by Topps or someone else.

    Still haven't added one to the collection, but hope to at some point.