Monday, January 24, 2011

Look N' See what I found

I haven't posted any finds on here in a while because I really haven't found anything out of the ordinary.  Not that this site is soley dedicated to the strange and unusual but most of the major card brands through the years have been seen time and time again.

The other day I grabbed a box to thumb through while watching something stupid on TV.  I found a small snap-tite jewel case that had some odd sized cards rattling around in them.  Just from the looks of the sides, since they were sandwiched between some 1984 Topps Baseball and some 1987 Topps Football, they looked old.  Only one way to find out...

As in most of what I have been finding that "looks" old, these have seen better days.  There are predominant creases, mis-cuts, off centering issues and of course the corners are rounded and worn.  But none of that changes the fact that until now, I had never seen these before.  So off to the interwebs for some information.
First things first...some observations.  My first thought was that these were obviously from a set that features predominant figures in US History and possibly World History.  Since there was no date stamp, I surmised that they were probably from the early 60's or possibly the 50s.  The fact that it said T.C.G. on the bottom was a tip off that they were made by Topps.  Other than that I had no clue.  In case you didn't already know, and it's hard to believe after what I found out that anyone other than me doesn't, here is what we found out. 
Look 'n See was in fact produced by Topps in 1952.  Apparently, these were pretty popular and have become one of the biggest 1950's non-sport sets traded today.  If you check Ebay, you will find quite a few listings.  In fact, when you search for 1952 Look N' See, I came up with 789 individual auctions.  What does that basically mean to me?  It means that these were probably produced in a much more significant volume than any of the other 1950's non-sport sets.  Also, unlike other trading card sets, these were available to purchase for a continued amount of time through the early 50s.  Some older collector's remember these being available as late as 1954.
The most sought after card is the Babe Ruth.  Despite the scarcity of some of the other cards, the Ruth still garners three figures in most cases even in less than Excellent condition.  Although not impossible to find, the scarcest card, as reported by many dealer's and collector's, is the Rembrandt.  
The backs of the cards feature hidden answers to trivia questions that are printed on the cards.  After a brief biography of the subject, the question is printed in a box such as the one above, "What famouse general did Gen. Ridgway replace in Korea?"  There was a small piece of red cellophane included in each pack that kids could place over the back to reveal the answer.  Not only would the answer appear, but the orange backs would disappear as well as the biography. 
Apparently, these were produced in in two series.  Card numbers 1 through 75 were followed by numbers 76 through 135.  Topps split the first 75 cards into subsets with seven titles.  Card numbers 1 through 9 depicted Presidents; numbers 10 through 31 featured Famous Americans; numbers 32 through 42 were of Military Leaders; and cards 43 through 46 pictured Famous Women.  Other headings included Explorers (6 cards), Men of the West (11), World Figures (5) and Inventors (7).  
The backs list a secondary numbering system for each subset.  For example, the George S. Patton card is denoted as "No. 3 of 11 Military Leaders." The cards in series 1 are all grouped together.  However, series 2 is all over the board.  Collector's speculate that since series 1 flew off the shelves, they rushed series 2 before planning the configuration (go figure even in the 1950s Topps had quality control problems.) 
Overall, though, I think the best part about these is the caricature artwork on the front.  A very nice set if you can find it in good condition.  I found a full set sell on Ebay for around $800 and you can get most individual cards fairly cheap with the exception of the more scarce figures.  So far these are the only three that I have found but like most interesting things, I have a feeling there may be more out there in the garage.


  1. I'll say it again: that's some garage.

  2. Interesting that the generals are labelled with the simple category, "Soldier".

  3. Yeah, this whole set has some interesting quirks to it. I just wish it was in better condition.