What began as a small family run business, has evolved to become a classic name in the world of sports. Alongside Panini, Topps is one of the most recognized creators of trading cards. Throughout their 75 years of history, Topps has fostered connections between fans and their heroes in football, baseball, soccer, entertainment, and pop culture. Through their imaginative leadership, Topps has stood tall above others in the growing competition of trading cards. If you want to dive into the history of Topps, continue reading!
Before there was trading cards, Topps was actually a family run gum business. Originating in Brooklyn, New York 1938, Entrepreneur Morris Shorin’s four sons – Abram, Ira, Joseph, and Philip – wanted to revive their family’s struggling tobacco distribution business. With their experience marketing tobacco, they moved into the chewing gum business creating Topps Chewing Gum Inc. Their small organization’s first product was single pieces of chewing gum sold at a penny a piece, and surprisingly became popular throughout the country. In 1947, Topps wanted to push themselves past their competitors, so they began to wrap their chewing gum in comics starring characters to reflect the war at the time. From then on, they became the leading candy maker famous for other confections like Ring Pops, Push Pops, and more!
Topps had their first taste of their comics and trading cards with the graphics inside their packaging, but they soon introduced Magic Photo Cards as their first real picture product. This collection of 252 photo cards would magically show the image when the blank cards were moistened and exposed to light. These cards began as freebies inside packs of gum and featured sports stars of the day. They would later step into the pop culture world where carboard collectibles of The Beatles, Star Wars, Elvis, and Pokémon were sold as sets. It wasn’t until 1951 that Topps began producing fixtures of popular sports cards – starting with baseball cards. In 1952, Topps created their first annual set of baseball cards with team logos, simulated autographs, and player stats on the back. For a nickel, kids would race to get wax packs containing 6 cards, and a slab of bubblegum.
In the 90’s, their major competitors were known for making higher-end and expensive cards, so Topps made their own market for less expensive cards. Even though they categorized themselves for selling cheaper cards, they still upgraded their paper stock, and would only raise their prices in 5 cent increments. Being stable within the trading card market, Topps expanded their smaller lines of basketball, football, and other pop culture entertainment cards including movies, television stars, and singers. Other advancements in the 90’s included Topps releasing the premium Stadium Club (1991) and super-premium Topps Finest (1993) brands.
Baseball cards have always been what Topps is known for, but they also do a fantastic job representing other sports and franchises. In Europe, soccer stickers were thriving from Panini, but when Topps acquired an old confectionary firm in 1974, they got their foot in the door. Topps Europe was founded in 1989 as Merlin Publishing Ltd and grew to become a major player in the European market for collectibles. They began with cards for the Scottish Professional Football League, and launched their first Premier League collection in 1994. They grew extremely fast in Europe, acquiring Merlin Publishing by 1995, giving them a larger global presence. Some of Topps’ most successful licenses in Europe include UEFA Champions League, EPL Football, Bundesliga, WWE, Doctor Who, and Star Wars.
As many of you know, Topps in known for their Match Attax trading card game that has kept younger generations of fans entertained. Created in 2006, Match Attax has brought soccer fans together to trade, play, and share their love for their favorite soccer leagues. Today, Topps continues to innovate and elevate their designs. They continue to add digital elements to their collections to keep up with the times, but they also don’t forget to create nostalgia for older generations of collectors.
If you have a Topps collection in mind, SoccerCards.ca has your back! We’ve got some of the most popular soccer, F1, and WWE collections in stock that you won’t want to miss out on. If you want to learn more about a specific specialty collection, see if we have a blog on it! When we get a new collection in stock, we feature it with a checklist to help collectors on their journey to find their favorite cards.