Please Note: this piece will be available for viewing at the National Sports Convention. If any bidder would like to see it please ask one of our associates and they will be happy to assist you.
Exceedingly rare original printing blanket used in the production of the 1956 Topps Baseball Series 2 cards. This is the ONLY Topps Baseball printing blanket (for any year) we have ever seen, and, to the best of our knowledge, no other 1956 Topps Series 2 full uncut sheet has ever surfaced. Each Series 2 card (#101-#180) is represented twice on the sheet (including #135 Mickey Mantle), except for the following eight cards: #101 Campanella, #110 Berra, #127 W. Jones, #131 Roselli, #132 Avila, #150 Snider, #151 Jacobs, and #160 Pierce. (The single representation of those eight cards is due simply to the design of the printing sheet, not a defect in the blanket.)
The cards are displayed in eight columns, with nineteen cards in each column. The blanket has been trimmed along the left border and the top, resulting in a corresponding trim to all the card images in the first column (only approximately 1/3 to 1/4 of each card is visible) and the first (top) card image in each column (cutting off the player's name). The cards so affected in the first column, in descending order, are as follows: #s 153, 147, 154, 122, 106, 176, 179, 161, 159, 127, 153, 147, 154, 122, 106, 176, 179, 161, and 159. The eight top cards in each column so affected are as follows: #s 153, 138, 135 Mantle, 152, 166, 119, 115, and 111. The fifteen Hall of Famers represented on the printing blanket are Mantle (twice), Mays (twice), Killebrew (twice), Campanella (once), Berra (once), Hodges (twice), Mathews (twice), Snider (once), Rizzuto (twice), Slaughter (twice), Ashburn (twice), Roberts (twice), Fox (twice), Schoendienst (twice), and Minoso (twice).
Large printing blankets such as this one (36.5x52.5"), were used in the production of all Topps trading cards during the time. The cards were printed using offset lithography, which was a multi-step process utilizing both metal negatives and printing blankets. The blanket was rolled over the plate, which in turn, was rolled over the sheets to produce the final card images. Different blankets added additional colors, with the offered example most likely representing the final printing blanket, as the coloring of the card images appears to be complete here. Because of the nature of the production process, all the card images seen on this blanket are reverse images of the finished cards.
The rarity of these blankets is explained by the fact that they were routinely discarded immediately after the print job was finished (they were large and could not be used for another print project, so there was no reason to save them). The only reason this particular example was saved is because one of the employees at the printing plant found a practical use for it: as a drop cloth. There is a circular white paint mark in the lower left quadrant of the sheet, which was made by a paint can, as well as a rectangular area of tape/adhesive residue. Additionally, there is an approximate 13.5" horizontal tear extending inward from the right border and, nine inches below it, a second interior tear measuring approximately five inches.
This piece was just recently discovered at an estate sale. The family had no remembrance of its origin, or that they even had it, until it was found during the house sale. However, they did recall that a family member worked for a printing company back in the 1950s/1960s. Whatever its origins are, it is nothing short of a miracle that it has survived. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a unique card item that was, quite literally, used to produce all of Mantle's 1956 Topps cards. Please note: because this blanket is rubber and was stored rolled for these past sixty-plus years, it will be shipped rolled unless otherwise instructed by the buyer. Either way, due to its size and weight, it will require an increased shipping charge.