About two months ago, Mark Hoyle drew my attention to a card I had never heard of but which I most certainly needed in my collection. In 1954, Topps issued a two-series set of 78 cards each called "Topps Scoops." As this Sports Collectors Digest article from August of 2016 mentions, Topps condensed about 3000 years of history into these 156 cards -- focusing on European and U.S. history, of course.
Damn Topps -- always leaving out the South Americans.
Anyway, Mark tweeted a photo of card #130, a card called "Braves Go to Milwaukee." That card definitely fits into my Milwaukee baseball collection, so I started looking for it on eBay.
Most times I found it, the individual card was going for about $20. Then, last week, I found a group of eight cards from the set in "rounded corner" shape for $14.95 with shipping included. That group included the card I was looking for, so I put in a bid at the opening level and waited.
No one else bid, so I now have the card I was looking for. It's a little bit rough, but I can always look for an upgrade:
These cards are slightly smaller than the 1975 Topps Mini set. Whereas the 1975 minis measured 2-1/4 inches by 3-1/8 inches, these Topps Scoops measure 2-1/16 inches by 2-15/16 inches. The cards feature colorful artwork for the news story highlighted -- some of which are really weird artwork, to be fair.
For example, this is supposed to represent New York Governor DeWitt Clinton emptying a barrel of Lake Erie water into the Atlantic Ocean. It looks more like Clinton is skewering a barrel on the end of some sort of animal tusk.
Certainly, the art is colorful, yet a lot of it is very much the 1950s hokey art style.
Like, what are these red buildings here? The twin lighters?
Ben Franklin looks awfully chill here as the key on his kite glows as if it were radioactive. Of course, the first generation of Mythbusters proved that this was almost certainly an urban legend.
This would have been recent history when the cards were released. The back of the card notes that the Douglas D-588-II Skyrocket reached 1,327 miles per hour -- twice the speed of sound, or Mach 2. As of this writing, it appears that NASA still has the manned air-speed record with a Guinness-certified flight on November 16, 2004 hitting Mach 9.6 -- nearly 7,000 miles per hour.
For whatever reason, I somehow never heard about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 -- which is still known as the most destructive river flood in United States history. Oddly, though, the back of this card cites to The Atlanta Constitution as the source for the news story. Not sure why a New Orleans newspaper wouldn't have been more appropriate. As the Wikipedia article about this flood notes, over 200,000 African Americans were displaced from their homes due to the floods, and many joined the Great Migration to the north and Midwest.
It being the 1950s, though, we get a hulking white dude holding on to trees and a white dude on a raft in a suit. Because that makes sense, somehow.
Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, is shown above. I have nothing to add to this.
Finally, this one is a weird one. It's almost certainly a story that would have been bigger news in 1954 than to any of us today. The U.S. Air Force -- a branch of the military created just five years prior to this card's date -- held a press conference to say that flying saucers were not real. Those post-war years featured a fair number of "UFO" (the term coined by the Air Force) reports. What seems possible to me is that many of these UFOs were airplanes, light reflections, and other objects that the general public was not used to seeing in the air.
These days, we're much more likely to know what these things are. Or, at least we are more likely to brush them off as airplanes. It's also possible that some of these UFOs were actually espionage activities of other countries.
It's possible we'll never know for sure.
At any rate, if you see a Scoop you like, let me know. Thanks for reading.