I’ve been fascinated by these ever since I first saw them online. This is the 1960 A&BC football release. A&BC is/was an English candy maker that for many years was the go-to source for football cards – sort of an English O-Pee-Chee.
Starting in 1949 and continuing through the mid-1950s, A&BC sold various forms of chewing gum. Like elsewhere in the world, England had a history of sports cards that had been included in cigarette packs and they began issuing cards packaged with gum, both sport and non-sport. Originally, they outsourced the printing and collating but production issues led them to take the whole thing in-house.
By about 1959 they entered into a licensing deal with Topps to reproduce and distribute some Topps sets in the UK. More interestingly, they seem to have licensed some Topps card designs and then recast them as football sets for the British market.
The card here has clearly borrowed the 1959 Topps Baseball layout, right down to the font used for the player name. Of all the cards I’ve seen, this one has the most fascinating image. The houses in the background give it the feeling of the sort of spring-training shots one often sees on baseball cards. I’ve love to know where it was taken – presumably on some practice ground.
The backs are fairly spartan and lack any real stats, but have the scratch-off trivia question that is so common on 1960s releases. They remind me a bit of 1961-62 Parkhurst.
The early football sets tend to be small. This one only has 84 cards in it across two series. The player selection is a bit of a mixed bag. It seems that player rights were secured player by player and not every team in the old First Division was represented. The club with the most cards in this set is actually (Glasgow) Rangers. Tottenham Hotspur, who would win the double that season, isn’t represented at all, nor is Arsenal. Liverpool, with two cards, was mired in the Second Division at the time.
Still, it’s a very neat set and I look forward to getting a few more.
Nigel’s Webspace is the go-to site for information on A&BC.