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Old 02-14-2010, 11:13 AM
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toppcat toppcat is offline
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Default Before Duryea, Where Did Topps Print Cards?

I had been thinking that the cards printed by Topps were mostly done by Zabel Brothers in Philly from 1951-64, then barged or trucked to the Brooklyn plant where they were assembled into packs with gum and wrappers made in Brooklyn. But Sy Berger's comments in the Great Flipping Trading and Baseball Card Book (sic) indicate most of the printing was done in and around Brooklyn, at 4 or 5 different plants before the move to Duryea concentrated everything in one building.

Zabel certainly seems to have done some printing for Topps based upon comments in some TS O'Connell articles of late (notably on 62 Green Tints) and also from discussions with a few other collectors but Berger's comments don't seem to support this. Was Zabel then the sub contractor for extra print runs with an occasional third subcontractor located in upstate NY? And what of the 1954 BB cards printed in Baltimore?

I'm going to try and put this all together in more coherent fashion but any insight is appreciated!
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Old 02-14-2010, 12:01 PM
Rich Klein Rich Klein is offline
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Default Dave

Like I posted earlier; I do believe that more than one printing location was involved. That's why we have some of the minituae errors and variations (the recent 63 Davenport) as an example. Yes that's a reall variation and I'd wager (I could be wrong) that a couple of different printers were involved.

Also, in the late 80's/early 90's, some of the companies also had subtle differences and I'd wager those were caused by different printing houses producing those cards.


Last edited by Rich Klein; 02-14-2010 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 01-29-2018, 11:30 AM
Doug Hall Doug Hall is offline
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My grandfather William Zabel was the President of Zabel Brothers Co in Philadelphia. I can vouch for the fact that Zabel Bros,. was the sole printer of Bowman cards beginning 1949 and then Topps. I am not sure when Topps printing ended at Zabel Bros. As far as I know, there was never a second printer during the time Zabel Bros. was printing the cards.

When I was 7 years old in 1950, my grandfather began to give me full uncut sheets of the Bowman baseball cards. I taped them to my bedroom walls in Ocean City, NJ. I had full sets of sheets of Bowman and Topps through about 1959. In addition, he would bring me error sheets (upside down reverse side), one color missing, etc. I kept all the sheets in a large cardboard box (like a large TV would come in today).

In the summer of my Freshman year at college, 1962, I worked at Zabel Bros. One job I had was to go through all the old zinc/copper printing plates in the huge basement storeroom and ready them to be sold as scrap metal. I found many of the plates used to print the 1949-1956 Bowman and Topps cards. I packaged them with other plates. They were probably melted down.

When I returned to the US from 2 years in Nepal as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1970, I discovered that during my absence my mother had thrown into the trash my entire collection of uncut sheets as well as my huge individual card collection.

I wasn't angry, just sad. And I now wonder what would have happened if I had kept the original plates and could reprint the cards. Certainly the market value of the existing ones would be a lot lower.
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Old 01-29-2018, 06:21 PM
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con40 con40 is offline
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I was in Scranton on a press check back in 1994 at a print shop named Panel Prints. While there for my client, Boston Acoustics, I got a tour of the plant and, lo and behold, they had pallets and pallets of 1994 Topps baseball cards sheets. My rep told me that they were the contract printer for Topps at the time. He didn;t say if they were exclusive, and I doubt they were.
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Old 02-07-2018, 07:16 AM
hangman62 hangman62 is offline
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Default print topps

I was working on packaging machinery at Avne in Brooklyn years ago..they were doing the packaging/ wrapping of the cello and rack packs
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Old 02-07-2018, 06:22 PM
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toppcat toppcat is offline
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Originally Posted by hangman62 View Post
I was working on packaging machinery at Avne in Brooklyn years ago..they were doing the packaging/ wrapping of the cello and rack packs
Oh, the irony!

I think it all changed when the really modern UV type cards came out. I don't have a lot of info past the mid 80's as I don't track much after 1980 but they used 5 or 6 printers from the 40's through the early 80's, mainly in Baltimore and Philly, plus at least one other for boxes. I'm not sure where glassine and wax wrappers and the like were printed but my guess is NYC.
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