Monday, June 18, 2012

Vintage "Ink"

There was a time when few people went out and got tattoos. Back then, tattoos were found on servicemen, criminals and circus sideshow performers. And if you were young, you could get a temporary tattoo that would wash off after Mom found out about it.

In 1960, Topps produced one of those temporary markings:

This wasn't an insert like many Topps products. Instead, it was the back side of the wrapper around a single piece of gum. Here's what an unopened package looked like:

There were 96 different subjects in the set. 55 were players, 16 were team logos, 10 were autographed baseballs and 15 were generic action shots. If you'll notice, there is a small tear above Willie Mays above; that is from also being a wrapper and almost every example you'll find has that tear.

In 1960, these items were undoubtedly unpopular with parents and teachers. Today, they're relatively rare, but low demand has kept prices in check.

In 1964, Topps brought the items back:

 This time, there was extra color added to the background, as well as a team name. Although they were once again available as single items wrapped around a slab of bubblegum, the package shows one little difference:

This issue is called "Tatoo" -- note that a "t" is missing from the spelling -- to differentiate it from the 1960 edition. Once again, 55 players appeared in the set, but the only "extras" were 20 team logos. Four of the players (Mantle, Koufax, Mays and Killebrew) have variations in the background, meaning that variation collectors get to complain that the more expensive items are the ones they have to look for.

Topps changed things when they brought back temporary tattoos in 1971:

Actually, they basically kept the design used in the 1964 set. This time around, the tattoos (note that Topps reverted to the more correct spelling) came in sheets, each featuring a variety of players, facsimile autographs, team pennants and generic drawings. There are 16 sheets, and collectors prefer them intact (not like the one I showed above).

Here's an unopened package from the 1971 set:

The bubblegum is still there. This time, it's included as an "extra" rather than making the tattoo part of its wrapper.

15 years later, Topps recycled its idea for a new generation of baseball fans to think was brand new:

The 1986 edition was pretty similar to the 1971 edition in style and the format of the sheets. Except for the players featured and the slightly "updated" style of the artwork, they're pretty much the same. There are 24 complete sheets in the set and they're still easily located today, even in unopened form.

Even the unopened pack from 1986 followed the general format used in 1971.

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