TOPPS CANDY LIDS TOM SEAVER
This week we bring you the Mets360 North American Field Guide for Identifying Topps Candy/Gum Lid Reverses.
This project is within the remit of the site because each of the three lids produced by Topps in the early ’70s featured a small, floating-head image of our own Tom Seaver.
The first Topps Candy Lids were issued in 1970, and served as the covering for a tub of rudimentary rock-shaped confection called Baseball Stars Candy.
The front of the lid featured a fully licensed borderless player photo, and a white-lipped tab. The back of the lid highlighted head-shots of Seaver, Carl Yastrzemski, and Frank Howard superimposed on green stars and set against a sky-blue background. The ingredients and the product weight ringed the top and bottom of the lid, respectively; two small white stars and two small green stars completed the design.
The 1970 lids saw limited distribution, and many that are seen today exist as uncut proofs.
Topps revived the concept tentatively in 1972, and produced a slightly reconfigured test issue named Baseball Stars Bubble Gum.
The front design of these lids was similar to the 1970 version, except with a smaller tab. The key difference is that this product was not licensed by MLB, so all team logos were airbrushed off the photos, and team designations were limited to cities instead of the actual team names that were used in 1970.
This carries over to the reverse of the lids, where slightly different pictures of Seaver and Yastrzemski now appear on green stars against a purple background, with the two players wearing generic blue hats. Frank Howard was dropped altogether, perhaps to make room for the more extensive gum ingredient list and the addition of the Topps copyright and production address. (More likely, though, Howard was dropped due to the trajectory of his career. He led the AL in home runs and RBI in 1970, but by 1972 he was sliding into irrelevance.) Additional small green stars (now numbering seven) were added to fill the tableau.
These lids are even harder to track down than the 1970 iteration, and are found most often as proofs printed on Topps production scrap.
The company was emboldened to roll out a wider test the following year, and the frumpy 1973 Baseball Stars Bubble Gum lids can be found today in some abundance.
These were again unlicensed by MLB, so all player photos were airbrushed as in 1972. The lid fronts contained a ring of bold primary color surrounding the images– unfortunately, the product was plagued by miscutting, so one of the effects of the colored border was to inadvertently emphasize those miscuts.
The reverse design of the 1973 lids was nearly identical to the previous year’s offering, except that the pictures of Seaver and Yastrzemski were now superimposed over orange stars instead of green.
The 1973 lids can still be found today in their native unopened form. A single tub will set you back $200 or so…