Topstars - Famous Footballers

I do not believe that A&BC Chewing Gum issued 'multi-card' packs
 in 1958/59 (as they did in following years). This pack has no price
 or an indication of the number of cards in the pack. This wrapper has the address for A&BC Chewing Gum as London, not the later Harold Hill, Essex address. It does not mention a licence agreement with Topps, which is believed to date from 1959. I’ve always associated this wrapper with the 1958/59 set because of the Topstars Album of Famous Footballers from this date. The wrapper mentions 'Topstars' rather than 'Footballers', but does have the image of a footballer. The wrapper does not have a price, nor does it mention how many cards came in each pack.

The 1958/59 set, issued as two Series (Cards 1-46 and 47-92) is also known as the 'Planet' set. For Series 1 there are two versions of the set, commonly referred to as 'Planet', due to an offer printed at the top of some of the cards. In Series 1, the 'Planet' cards have black and red backs, while the non-Planet cards have blue and red backs. Interestingly, there are also two different card printing sizes for the Series 1 non-Planet cards, with some cards slightly larger and with a larger printed image than other cards in the set. Click here for a discussion and images of the card size variations. All cards in Series 2 have, or originally had, the Planet offer at the top and therefore have black and red backs. What this means is that the wrapper needed to accommodate cards of different sizes. Whether this meant there were different sized wrapper variations, or whether the same wrapper could be used for the different card sizes is not known.

Degree of confidence in assigning this wrapper to this set: High


The image of the footballer heading the ball on these wrappers has become known as the 'Feyenoord-style' player image, due to the colours of the shirt. The blue wrappers have the A&BC Chewing Gum address as London, again pre-dating the move to Essex. There is mention of the licence agreement with Topps Chewing Gum Inc., believed to date from 1959, and the four card wrapper has an advertisement for Bazooka Joe Gum.

There are two shop display posters for this set (the poster shows a number of the cards), one of which only displays cards from Series 1 (cards 1 to 49) and the other cards from Series 2. The posters have the Feyenoord-style player at the top, as well as an indication of the prices of the cards (1d and 3d). The wrappers show that you got one card for 1d or four cards for 3d. The posters have the A&BC address as 1 Carlisle Road, London, NW9, again pre-dating the move to Essex. 1 Carlisle Road is the address of the Colindale factory which A&BC had moved to in 1958.

Degree of confidence in assigning this wrapper to this set: High

Footballer (Black backs)

The assignment of the green wrappers to the 1960/61 set is not certain. The green wrappers have the A&BC Chewing Gum address as Harold Hill, Romford, Essex a move understood to have occurred in late 1959. It seems strange, and unusual, that A&BC would use the same wrapper image over two years but it is important to remember that A&BC moved partly because they had a fire at their London premises. Is it possible that after the fire it was easiest to just use the previous year's wrapper and change the colours while they concentrated on re-establishing their business?

The display poster shown above relates to this 1960/61 set (the poster underneath the header shows a number of cards from the set). The poster header is identical to the 1959/60 poster, except that the address has changed from London to Essex. The poster confirms the availability of the cards in 1d and 3d packs.

The image of the 4 cards for 3d wrapper shown here has been doctored to remove another image so is not perfect.

Degree of confidence in assigning this wrapper to this set: Medium


This wrapper has the Essex address, and mentions the licence agreement with Topps, dating the wrapper to post-1959 on both counts. It is a return to the Topstars name, using the same footballer image from the 1958/59 set though with a white rather than orange shirt. The clue to this assignment is the mention of 'Autographed!' cards, with the 1961/62 set being the only set of autographed photo cards from this period.

The pack contained three cards for 2d. While I have never seen one, based on the preceding and following wrappers it is likely that there was also a one card for 1d pack.

Degree of confidence in assigning this wrapper to this set: High

Footballer (Bazooka)

While it is thought that there may be one or two wrappers for this set (one card for 1d and three cards for 2d) there are few known images of these wrappers, making them extremely rare. I'm very greatful to Graham for providing this image. Still not sure whether there ever was a 3 cards for 2d wrapper.

Degree of confidence in assigning this wrapper to this set: High

Footballer (Make-a-Photo)

The 1963/64 set of 110 was issued in two Series. There are believed to be two options for purchasing these cards, one card for 1d or three cards for 2d. The 1d wrapper mentions the fact that you could also buy the cards in 2d packs, stating 'Extra card free with 2d Footballer'.

The shop display poster for this 1963/64 set includes the image of the 'goalie' reproduced from the wrappers to the header of the poster, similar to the 'Feyenoord-style' player from the 1959/60 and 1960/61 sets.

Degree of confidence in assigning this wrapper to this set: High

Footballer (Quiz)

The 1964/65 set of 149 cards was issued in three Series. The pack costing 2d contained two cards. It is not known whether a 1 card for 1d pack was also available. It is possible that this was the first year when A&BC only offered one option for you to buy your cards.

Degree of confidence in assigning this wrapper to this set: High


Although the wrapper says six cards, each card had two photos, so the purchaser was actually getting three cards for 3d.

Degree of confidence in assigning this wrapper to this set: High

Footballer (Star Players)

For the first time A&BC do not tell you how many cards you got for your 3d, although the wrapper does advertise the fact that you got a 'pin-up' as an extra.

Degree of confidence in assigning this wrapper to this set: High

Footballer (Yellow backs)

A set of 110 cards issued in two Series. I'm not sure how many cards you got with each 3d pack, but with Series 1 you automatically got a nice paper pennant in each pack, and with Series 2 a nice metalised team emblem.

Degree of confidence in assigning these wrappers to this set: High

1969/70 to 1974/75

The wrappers from the following years are fairly easy to identify and well accepted by collectors. Links to images and the 'special offers' from each year are shown below:
1969/70: Green-back wrappers gallery
1969/70: World Cup Posters
1970/71: Orange-back wrappers gallery
1971/72: Purple-back wrappers gallery
1972/73: Orange-red-back wrappers gallery
1973/74: Blue-back wrappers gallery
1973/74: Giant Team Posters
1974/75: Red-back wrappers gallery