Here is the above comic panel shown in a larger scan.
Topps' set in 1961 isn't much of an improvement over 1960 and may very well be a step backwards. The eight Colts included are shown with portrait photos for the most part. These are cut and pasted on solid color backgrounds of orange, red or yellow. Green and blue backgrounds show up with other teams. There are no team logos on either the front or back. The Fleer set used the teams' logos so I'm not sure if there was a licensing issue this year. Anyone?
The team card, horizontal on the front gets a vertical back.
Scattered throughout the set are '1960 Football Highlights' cards. The Colts are shown on this one commemorating Johnny U's 25 TD passes. His numbers were impressive at the time but in the current NFL they would be mundane. Times have changed.
The tattoos that Topps issued in the early 60s as inserts are generally out-of-sight pricewise, particularly the Unitas which is considered a 'test issue'. But this sticker, which I just purchased minus the tab (you can see the perforation markings on the left), was very cheap.
1961 Topps 'flocked' sticker
Meanwhile, across the tracks, Fleer was producing what may be my favorite football set not issued by Philly Gum.
The majority of the players in the Fleer set are shown in pregame stadium shots and many of the NFL players had their picture taken at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. That fact, I'll admit, has a bearing on my view of this set. But beyond that these are terrific cards. These are football players by God!
The cards feature great posed portraits, the team logo and clean white borders and text block. There are ten Colts in the set, seven of them are in the Pro or College Football Hall of Fame, or both.
The light green doesn't do much to make the cards readable and on faded/browned cardboard like the Marchetti card below the white name and green titles all but disappear. Several of my cards in this set have similar back issues so I guess it's an issue with the cardboard used.
But despite the shortcomings on the reverse the fronts put the '61 Fleer far ahead of the Topps set. I've scanned four examples of the cards of the same player for comparisons sake. Take a look:
That Fleer Lenny Moore, with the view of the scoreboard along the right edge, is a Top Ten football card in my collection. And I'm more in love with that Fleer Artie Donovan card every time I see it. Those Fleer cards are just more 'alive'. It's too bad the company was relegated to 'AFL only' cards for the next two seasons before leaving the football cards business for a decade.
For the next two seasons Topps was again in the driver's seat as far as NFL cards were concerned. Luckily it appears that they were spurred on to better designs in 1962 and 1963. Oh, and Post cereal boxes featured NFL players in 1962. I've got some Colts to show off, too.
For the first time since 1957 Topps went with a horizontal format for it's cards in '62. And the black border was downright revolutionary, at least in Topps sports cards. The cards, with a large full color shot and a smaller action one, are not unlike the 1960 Topps baseball cards. Name, team and position appear in a color box. The Colts had red and yellow boxes while other teams had these colors as well as blue and green.
There were eleven Colts players plus a Colts team card in the 176 card set.
Topps issued Football Bucks, miniature dollar bills with NFL players in 1962 as an insert into the packs of their football cards. There were four Colts in the 48 cards set. I need all four at this point, mostly because I haven't done a whole lot of insert chasing. They range from about $5 for Lenny Moore to $35 for Unitas.
Post Cereal boxes carried NFL cards that mirrored their baseball counterparts of the era. I have 11 of the 15 Colts. All are posed action shots with training camp backgrounds. Lots to love with these. You can find these in poorly trimmed condition (which I obviously have) and that holds down the cost. I'm fine with Post cards in this condition.
Topps had one more year of producing NFL cards before the licence went to Philadelphia Gum for four years.
The 1963 football card set is colorful and fun. The 170 card set had eleven players for each team and a team card. The Colts cards are yellow and orange/brown. Johnny Unitas got card #1 for the fifth consecutive year. Oddly the team card (for all teams) didn't match the colors found on the players cards. The Unitas card is, as expected, the most expensive of the group. As is the case for the 1962 Unitas I lack a 1963 copy for this project but I have a mid-grade slabbed one for my Unitas PC.
Lots of grass, sky and trees are found behind the Colts players, five of whom are in the Hall of Fame. Taken individually these cards might not make you say "What a cool set!" but flipping through a few 9-pocket pages of these things will convince you it is.
'63 saw Topps change the color of the backs once again. The orange on white backs have the standard info and stats or a short bio. The cartoon is different though. Now it is in the form of a question pertaining to the player on the card and the answer is revealed by laying a small sheet of red cellophane over it. The cellophane came in every pack. I believe it is the first time the cellophane was used with a Topps product since the 1952 mostly non-sport Look 'N See set. Don't quote me on that though.
1963 will be the last Topps football set to contain NFL players until 1968. For the next four years the NFL license was held by the Philadelphia Gum Company and Topps took over the production of AFL cards. Fleer was the 'odd company out' and would be out of the football card business until the mid-1970s.
The Philly Gum sets will all be posted in the next of this series. The four editions range from good to terrific. Completing at least one of them is a 'back burner' project for me.