Monday, October 3, 2011

Reading between the sheets

I was going to get off this topic, but I have been spurred on by events beyond my control. So you can blame whatever unseen force that is out there compelling me to continue to write about the border colors in the 1975 Topps set.

After listing all the color combinations in previous posts, people commented with what appears to be the most likely scenario for printing off the '75 Topps set back in 1975. Everyone (well, almost everyone) seems to agree that there were five sheets for the '75 set, and that each sheet contained 132 cards. Each sheet was 11 columns wide and 12 rows deep.

Topps used the six most-common border colors (green-light green, green-purple, orange-brown, pink-yellow, purple-pink and yellow-red) on 55 cards each. It used the six second-most common border colors (brown-orange, green-yellow, light blue-green, orange-yellow, red-orange and yellow-light blue) on 33 cards each. And it used the least common border colors (blue-orange, blue-tan, red-blue, red-yellow, tan-light blue and yellow-green) on 22 cards each.

55 (x 6) + 33 (x 6) + 22 (x 6) = 660. The total number of cards in the set.

(Yes, that was a math equation. I'm sorry).

But even after laying it all out like that, there are still doubting doubters.

Fortunately, Jon of The Fleer Sticker Project has come to the rescue.

He sent me photographs of some uncut sheets of 1975 Topps cards. They're fascinating in many ways. But they also prove the 11-cards-per-column, 12-per-row, 132-per-sheet theory. Plus it's very cool to see which color combination was stacked atop another color combination.

You don't need to believe me anymore. Look at the pretty pictures instead:

Isn't that beautiful?

That's one of the greatest card sights I've ever seen. I can only imagine what one of those sheets costs.

It's fascinating to see which color combinations were positioned atop other color combos. And that the pattern for each sheet wasn't always the same. And I noticed that the yellow-red All-Star cards are mixed in with the other yellow-red bordered cards.

I'm not bothering to count up all the color combos and see if they match. I did that on the '75 blog already. All I was interested in is seeing that the 11x12 theory was supported. And it is. The sheets feature 11 columns and 12 rows. Virtually the whole set is featured there in those five photos.

I should know. I checked them all.

Yup, I went through and matched them up to the '75 checklist. They're all present and accounted for. If you don't believe me, you can go through them yourself.

And if you're as insane as I am to do such a thing, you will find that I've fibbed a little bit. Some cards are actually missing. Eleven of the cards in the set aren't pictured in those five sheets.

The reason for that is the last row in the last picture has been cut off. There are only 11 rows in the final picture.

But since I went through every card in the checklist, I know which cards are missing. Here they are:

301 - Dave Roberts
317 - Joe Lahoud
322 - Ed Goodson
326 - Wayne Twitchell
380 - Sal Bando
401 - Mike Wallace
444 - Gene Garber
458 - Ross Grimsley
499 - Marty Perez
514 - Jose Cruz
564 - Tommy Davis

And since I just got done with the 1975 Topps (it's far out, man) blog, I know that they have one thing in common.

Each of them feature a green border on the top of the card and a yellow border on the bottom. The green-yellow border combo.

That puzzled me for a little bit, because the last row featured on the last photo includes cards with pink on the top and yellow on the bottom. According to every other picture, the bottom color of the preceding row is the top color of the next row. So how can the next row be green-yellow if the bottom color of the preceding row is yellow?

It can be if the 11 cards not shown were printed upside down in relation to all the other cards featured above.

I have no idea if that happened, but it's the only thing I can think of that explains how those cards can fit in with the others on the sheet.

It'd be interesting if someone can confirm this.

Otherwise I'm officially done with the whole thing. You can deduce and critique all you want. I'm moving on. Unseen force or not.

I'm never counting, multiplying or dividing again.


  1. Now that's really cool. These things can be cheaper than you think, too, because they're kind of a pain to deal with, and often dinged up from years of storage.

  2. That's an interesting question, too. I can't say I've seen cards printed upside down in the later sets. There's evidence of it in the 50s.

    Does Jon have the sheets in his possession? A slightly wide view could be available.

  3. If the missing row is at the top of the sheet, not the bottom, doesn't that solve your problem? No need to print the cards upside down with that solution. Or am I missing something?

  4. That's a very good thought.

  5. Note too that every other sheet has yellow as the second band. Not much of a smoking gun because they don't appear to share much else at first glance, but it's something.

  6. Now that is art I can appreciate!

  7. MJ ~

    I'm sure that's it. Thanks for clearing it up.

  8. I wish I had the sheets in my possession, but I'm afraid all I have are pictures. I've got a few other pictures I've saved some pictures of some proof sheets that were auctioned off by The Topps Vault. I'll see if I can find a sheet with the missing row.

    I do know that the top left card on the sheet missing a row starts off with Sal Bando as I remember thinking it was interesting that 3 sheets started off with Oakland A's, so the missing row is at the top of the sheet.

  9. They actually look a lot more aesthetically pleasing when you see them lined up like that, with top color of one card matched with bottom color of other card and so on.
    it also makes me think that any card color coming close to matching team colors was probably coincidental. I mean, an Oakland A appearing on the yellow/green card combo, and so on.

    Thanks for putting those up there, mr. Owl!

  10. Cardgasm.

    I never said I had anything relevant to add, but that is beautiful. Looks like wallpaper for a nice mancave.

  11. I included this in my "Month in Review":