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By giving him something he wants in return. For one thing, topps eventually began producing humor products unrelated to sports. Sketched by Wood and Powell and painted by Norman Saunders, and so on.
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This article needs additional citations for verification. This section does not cite any sources. Topps itself was founded in 1938, but the company can trace its roots back to an earlier firm, American Leaf Tobacco. Founded in 1890 by Morris Shorin, the American Leaf Tobacco Co. United States and sold it to other tobacco companies. American Leaf Tobacco encountered difficulties during World War I, as it was cut off from Turkish supplies of tobacco, and later as a result of the Great Depression. Shorin’s sons, Abram, Ira, Philip, and Joseph, decided to focus on a new product but take advantage of the company’s existing distribution channels.
At the time, chewing gum was still a relative novelty sold in individual pieces. Topps’ most successful early product was Bazooka bubble gum, which was packaged with a small comic on the wrapper. The “father of the modern baseball card” was Sy Berger. The Shorins, in recognition of his negotiation abilities, sent Sy to London in 1964 to negotiate the rights for Topps to produce Beatles trading cards. Arriving without an appointment, Sy succeeded by speaking in Yiddish to Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager.
Berger hired a garbage boat to remove leftover boxes of 1952 baseball cards stored in their warehouse, and rode with them as a tugboat pulled them off the New Jersey shore. The cards were then dumped into the Atlantic Ocean. The cards included Mickey Mantle’s first Topps card, the most valuable card of the modern era. Since 2012, Topps began creating digital sports cards, starting with the Topps Bunt baseball card downloadable app. Today, they have expanded that market into other apps that include Topps Huddle football app, Topps Kick soccer app, and the extremely popular Star Wars Card Trader app that was released this year. The company began its existence as Topps Chewing Gum, Inc. It later incorporated under New York law in 1947.
On October 12, 2007, Topps was acquired by Michael Eisner’s The Tornante Company and Madison Dearborn Partners. Topps has a European division, which is based in Milton Keynes, UK. From this office products are launched across Europe, including Spain, France, Germany, Norway, and Italy. This division also co-ordinates products launches across the many other international markets including the Far East, Australia, and South Africa. In 1994 Merlin acquired the Premier League license allowing the company to exclusively publish the only official Premier League sticker and album collection in the UK. The initial success of the Premier League stickers and album collection was so great that it took even Merlin by surprise, with reprint after reprint being produced. In 1995, The Topps Company Inc.
Merlin’s official company name changed to Topps Europe Limited, its products still carried the Merlin brand until 2008 as it was easily recognized by consumers. Topps Europe Limited continues to produce a wide and varied range of sports and entertainment collectibles across Europe. Its range of products now includes stickers, albums, cards and binders, magazines, stationery, and temporary tattoos. Topps Europe Ltd has continued to launch hugely successful products across Europe.
Topps Merlin branded Premier League sticker albums have been popular since their launch in 1994, and in 2007 Topps acquired the Premier League rights for trading cards. Bundesliga Match Attax was launched in January 2009 and is now available in over 40,000 stockists. The collection is the first of its kind in Germany and has become one of the biggest selling collections in the country. As of February 2016 Topps Match Attax dominated the secondary UK card trading market occupying two out of the top three spots on the www.
In 1951, Topps produced its first baseball cards in two different sets known today as Red Backs and Blue Backs. Each set contained 52 cards, like a deck of playing cards, and in fact the cards could be used to play a game that would simulate the events of a baseball game. The cards were released in several series over the course of the baseball season, a practice Topps would continue with its baseball cards until 1974. However, the last series of each year did not sell as well, as the baseball season wore on and popular attention began to turn towards football. The combination of baseball cards and bubble gum was popular among young boys, and given the mediocre quality of the gum, the cards quickly became the primary attraction. In fact, the gum eventually became a hindrance because it tended to stain the cards, thus impairing their value to collectors who wanted to keep them in pristine condition. During this period, baseball card manufacturers generally obtained the rights to depict players on merchandise by signing individual players to contracts for the purpose.
Topps first became active in this process through an agent called Players Enterprises in July 1950, in preparation for its first 1951 set. The later acquisition of rights to additional players allowed Topps to release its second series. This promptly brought Topps into furious competition with Bowman Gum, another company producing baseball cards. Bowman had become the primary maker of baseball cards and driven out several competitors by signing its players to exclusive contracts. To avoid the language of Bowman’s existing contracts, Topps sold its 1951 cards with caramel candy instead of gum. Bowman responded by adding chewing gum “or confections” to the exclusivity language of its 1951 contracts, and also sued Topps in U. The lawsuit alleged infringement on Bowman’s trademarks, unfair competition, and contractual interference.
As the contract situation was sorted out, several Topps sets during these years had a few “missing” cards, where the numbering of the set skips several numbers because they had been assigned to players whose cards could not legally be distributed. The competition, both for consumer attention and player contracts, continued until 1956, when Topps bought out Bowman. This left Topps as the dominant producer of baseball cards for a number of years. The next company to challenge Topps was Fleer, another gum manufacturer. Fleer signed star Ted Williams to an exclusive contract in 1959 and sold a set of cards oriented around him. Williams retired the next year, so Fleer began adding around him other mostly retired players in a Baseball Greats series, which was sold with gum. Stymied, Fleer turned its efforts to supporting an administrative complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that Topps was engaging in unfair competition through its aggregation of exclusive contracts.
A hearing examiner ruled against Topps in 1965, but the Commission reversed this decision on appeal. That same year, however, Topps faced an attempt to undermine its position from the nascent players’ union, the Major League Baseball Players Association. MLBPA executive director Marvin Miller then approached Joel Shorin, the president of Topps, about renegotiating these contracts. At this time, Topps had every major league player under contract, generally for five years plus renewal options, so Shorin declined. As a byproduct of this history, Topps continues to use individual player contracts as the basis for its baseball card sets today. This contrasts with other manufacturers, who all obtain group licenses from the MLBPA. The difference has occasionally affected whether specific players are included in particular sets.