The 1940s was both the beginning and end of an era for trading cards. There was virtually nothing produced in the great divide caused by World War II. Up to 1941 manufacturers like Gum Inc. (later Bowman) and Goudey, had raised the bar on the confection industry by leaving behind the tobacco age of marketing to adults and bringing forth the bubble gum age and marketing to children. Topps had been primarily a gum company but took up adding premiums to their products after the war. Their first sets featured various sizes and numerous topics, mostly non-sport. The most notable is the Bazooka Gum comics although the earlier issues did not yet feature Joe and his gang. Below are descriptions of Topps products that were issued in the 1940s.
1948 Topps Magic Photos (R714-27)
This set contains 252 small individual cards featuring sport and non-sport subjects. They were issued in 19 lettered series with cards numbered within each series. The 'magic' of the cards were the fact that they came out of the pack blank until the image was revealed by moistening the surface and applying the developing agent which was supplied by the wrapper in a one cent pack or a piece of orange mystery paper supplied in the five cent packs. The subsets by group letter are: A Boxing Champions, B All-American Basketball, C All-American Football, D Wrestling Champions, E Track & Field Champions, F Stars of Stage & Screen, G American Dogs, H General Sports, I None issued, J Movie Stars, K Baseball Hall of Fame, L Aviation Pioneers, M Famous Landmarks, N American Inventors, O American Military Leaders, P American Explorers, Q Basketball Thrills, R Football Thrills, S Figures of the Wild West, T General Sports. Size: 7⁄8 × 1 7⁄16 in (2.2 × 3.7 cm)
1949 Spalding Sports Show
These are a set of rust colored cartoons that deal with numerous sports. The illustrator of the cartoons is Willard Mullin. They were found on the inside of the foil wrapper of Bazooka gum. Size: 2 × 2 3⁄4 inches
1947-49 Bazooka Comics As a way to boost sales Topps began putting small comic strips as inner wrappers for their gum. These comics were reprints of strips from DC and Fawcett. Titles such as 'Doc Sorebones' and 'Peg' were found in varying sizes in Bazooka Gum from 1947 to 1948. In 1949 Topps began using a character called 'Bazooka, The Atom Bubble Boy' that represented something of a personage of the product. These comics that featured the Bubble Boy were done in a dull rust color making them hard to read. Despite their quality they would represent the precursor to the famous Bazooka Joe comics.
1948 Tatoo Bubble Gum (150) These items are transfers that feature various generic sport and non-sport drawings. Size: 1 3⁄8 × 2 5⁄8 inches.
1948 It Happened to a President (20) These comics are printed on thin tissue which was the interior wrapper of 'Golden Coin Bubble Gum'. The stories are done in rust color and tell of a true event in the life of a president. Size: 4 5⁄8 × 6 3⁄16 in.
1949 President Coins (34) The coins in this set are made of gold colored plastic. Each coin is numbered in sequence of each subject's presidency. Like most coins these items feature a bust of the president on the front with an eagle atop a shield on the back. The term of each president is depicted in relief around the portrait of each coin. Size: 1 1⁄8 in. diameter
1949 Famous Events (~60) This set was a series of comics that doubled as a gum wrapper. Alternately titled 'On This Day in History' the rust colored comics feature artwork of a special event on a particular day in history. Above the picture is a panel describing the event while a panel below the artwork offers astrological data for people born on the respective day. Size: 2 × 2 7⁄8 inches
1949 Flags of all Nations & Soldiers of the World (~32) These cards are double features in that they have two fronts. The Soldiers appeared on the glossy cardboard side while the Flags were printed on shiny patterned cloth on the other side. Size: 7⁄8 × 1 7⁄16 inches
1949 Flags of the World Parade (100) These Flags are a larger size as well as an expanded version of the above Flags & Soldiers set. This issue has five subsets divided by continent. There are flags of countries as well as service branches, naval standards, and confederated republics. The cards have both a set number and a subset number. The backs have a brief explanation of the flag. To the left of the text and below the set number is a line drawing of the soldier. Size: 1 3⁄4 × 2 7⁄8 inches
1949 Flip-O-Vision (50) This is a set of flip books that make a mini movie. Out of the packs the books were 30 pages folded like an accordion. The pages had to be separated and then bound together with string or thread to be used as a flip movie. The subjects featured are various celebrities performing their craft. Size: 1 7⁄8 × 4 inches
1949 License Plates (75) This set offered another double feature type card for the consumer. One side of the cards are license plates for every state as well as District of Columbia and Quebec while the other side posed a question about a car or landmark. The question side of the cards had a gray coating over 70 percent of it while the remainder had the question. The answer to the question was underneath the coating. Size: 7⁄8 × 1 7⁄16 inches
1949 Play Coins of the World (120) These play coins are plastic coated with either brass, copper, or nickel depending on their denomination. There are three different denominations for each country which are 25, 50 and 100. The coins were distributed with either gum or lollipops. Size: 7⁄8 inch diameter
1949 The Story of the Atom Bomb (18) The A-Bomb set was printed on the inside of the gum trays instead of the actual gum wrappers. The stories are printed on one half of the panel while the other half had a mail-in premium offer. Size: 7⁄8 × 2 1⁄4 inches
1949 X-Ray Round Up (200) This issue was a series of well colored and nicely detailed small size cards. The set had four subsets of fifty cards each. The subsets are Figures of the Wild West, Indian Chiefs, Pirates of the Spanish Main, and Savage Tribesmen. The X-Ray concept deals with the images on the back of the cards which were drawn with wavy orange lines. Also visible on the picture are very fine blue-green lines. A red X-Ray slip that was included could be used over the picture where the blue-green lines would reveal a hidden picture with a caption. Size: 7⁄8 × 1 7⁄16 inches