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Original Circa 1947 Topps Chewing Gum Wooden Factory Sign
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $1,763
Extremely historic original wooden sign (45 x 7.5 inches) that once hung at the entrance of the Topps Chewing Gum factory in Brooklyn, New York, proudly announcing to all visitors the young company's name. When this sign was created and posted, no one knew what the future would hold for Topps Chewing Gum, and no one could have guessed that it would remain for decades. The sign retains its original black paint and gilt letters that read "Topps Chewing Gum, Inc." Heavy wear is evident throughout, which is consistent with its having hung outdoors for many years. This sign, which was removed from the building directly by our consignor long after Topps had moved out and many years after it had been abandoned, dates from very shortly after the company re-incorporated in 1947. In 2002, our consignor removed the sign from the front facade of 254-36th Street in Brooklyn, NY, directly above what was once the main entrance to Topps Chewing Gum, Inc. (later Topps Company, Inc.). “Topps Chewing Gum, Inc.” was the first sign in a column of four hand-painted gold-on-black wooden company signs displayed outside the building that were subsequently abandoned by their owners; the others were Uneeda Doll Co., S&F Knitting Mills, and Gibraltar Fabrics. (Accompanying photos picture the building and remaining signs as they appeared roughly six months after removal in January 2003.)
Early company letters from 1940 indicate Topps was originally located at 60 Broadway in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, where they occupied a small portion of the Gretsch Building, makers of musical instruments, most notably guitars. On June 1, 1946, Topps moved into a massive loft building located at 237-37th Street in Brooklyn. This location was part of Bush Terminal, a major hub of shipping, manufacturing, and warehousing situated along the Brooklyn waterfront. During WWII, Bush Terminal was occupied by the Federal Government and utilized primarily as an international shipping center for the war effort. Topps resided at 37th St. through the mid 1950s, until increasing product demand and the acquisition of all Bowman Gum assets on April 1, 1956 lead to an inevitable expansion. From approximately 1955 to 1957, Topps occupied portions of both 237-37th St. and its neighbor across a shared alley, 254-36th St. In 1957 Topps vacated 37th St. and began a four-decade stay at 254-36th St. Finally in 1994, Topps headquarters moved to One Whitehall St. in lower Manhattan, bidding farewell to its Brooklyn roots, and leaving only a wooden sign (the offered sign) as a reminder of its great tenure in the County of Kings. While we cannot be certain, it is probable that this sign originally hung at Topps' original Bush Terminal location and then migrated one block northeast in the mid-1950s to 36th Street, where it remained for the next forty-five years or so. If so, then from approximately 1947 to 1994, this sign hung as a beacon to all those who conducted business at Topps, including countless athletes, agents, and artists, such as Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, and Basil Wolverton, as well as other creative and business types who collectively created the cards produced by Topps during this span of over forty years.
Included with the sign is a small group of rare vintage Topps products that is comprised of the following: 1) three different 1940s Topps Chewing Gum advertising matchbooks with matches; 2) two original unopened pieces of 1946 Topps Chewing Gum - Spearmint and Peppermint flavors; 3) a circa 1948 Topps Premium Redemption Certificate Catalog for retailers; 4) eleven different 1940s-1950s Topps Premium Redemption Certificates for retailers; 5) an original unopened pack of 1949 Topps License Plates (Stop & Go Bubble Gum); 6) an original unopened pack of circa 1948 5-cent Bazooka The Atom Bubble Gum with inner comic featuring Bazooka The Atom Bubble Boy (precursor to Bazooka Joe) and cardboard stiffener card, possibly R 709-3 Story of the Atom Bomb. This is the earliest version of Bazooka Gum known to exist; 7) a 1949 Bazooka Gum Gift List Catalog - used by kids for redeeming Bazooka wrappers for prizes; 8) a circa 1957 Topps Business Reply Card for product ordering - with 254-36th St. address; 9) an original early 1960s Sy Berger business card with 254-36th St. address; 10) eleven photos, printed in January 2003, documenting the location and front facade where the sign once resided; 11) three printed sheets of related ephemera, documenting Topps’ original move in 1946, and its residing at the 254-36th St. address as early as Sept. 1955. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,763
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