30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Bottoms Up

Does anyone know the first time a card company printed cards on the bottom of their wax boxes?

I know Topps did it back in 1985 with their football and hockey cardsDonruss also created a four card set on the bottom of their 1985 baseball wax boxes:

I don't remember seeing any boxes of this stuff in the wild back in 1985, so I'm pretty sure I didn't get my hands on one of these fabulous Dwight Gooden rookie card oddballs until a few years later.  And since I wasn't actively collecting football or hockey back in 1985, I'm pretty sure the first box bottoms I ever owned were the ones printed on the bottom of 1986 Topps baseball wax boxes.

Whatever I owned back then is long gone, but I have picked up a few uncut box bottoms over the years along with a few sets that were already cut up for me.  Today I figured I'd showcase the 1986 Topps set for you.

Topps produced four different four-card box bottoms.  The easiest way to differentiate the cards from the ones distributed in the packs is the colored border at the top of the cards.  Most of us are familiar with the black bordered cards that came out of the packs.  The box bottoms feature a red border at the top.

You'll also notice that Topps used different photographs from the regular pack issued cards.

1986 Topps Box Bottoms #A, #B, #C, #D

The backs are pretty much the same with the exception of the numbering and the slight discoloration on the box bottoms.  Notice that the box bottoms number the cards with letters instead.

1986 Topps Box Bottoms #E, #F, #G, #H

As a fan of action shots, I think Topps did a good job of choosing which photographs would be included on the base card compared to the box bottoms.   That being said... I do think the box bottom portrait shots of guys like BellFisk, and Guidry would look really nice signed by the athlete.

1986 Topps Box Bottoms #I, #J, #K, #L

1986 Topps Box Bottoms #M, #N, #O, #P

The checklist itself is loaded with familiar names... however after twenty-four years, only four of these guys have been inducted into Cooperstown.

As for finding gem mint copies of these box bottoms, I wish you the best of luck.  You have to remember that many of these box bottoms were often exposed to baseball card shop and retail store shelves.  And even if they were locked in a sealed case, they were stacked on top of each other where shifting and the weight of the boxes may have caused the box bottoms to get scratched or creased.

Personally, I don't mind that my copy of this set isn't mint.  The subtle flaws are a reminder of when collecting was a little simpler and collectors could handle their cards and cut out bottoms with a pair of scissors, instead of precision paper cutters.

I've been neglecting adding music to my posts, but here's a song that I felt that went well with today's post:

I know based on my Kenny Rogers post that some of you aren't big on country music... but music is like cards.  There's something for everyone.

Maybe you like modern country.  Maybe you don't.  Maybe you like box bottom cards.  Maybe you don't.

Well that's it for today.  Although I'm still locked down in my home, I've started to get my school curriculum lined up for the distance learning model my district has adopted and will start implementing in a few weeks.  Although I'm not a huge fan of change, I am excited to get back to teaching.

Happy Thursday and sayonara!


  1. 1985 is the first year I remember them showing up. We opened a couple of donruss boxes and I loved the gooden. The next year they were everywhere. Cramer even put cards on their 1986 boxes of their multiyear baseball legends release.

  2. I have a few in my junk box. I actually got one in the mail today. I didn't order it. It was used to hold a card in place. Those box bottoms got the same abuse that Hostess Boxes got when on the shelves.

  3. I love country, and southern rock, and classic rock, pop, even some classical. I'm well rounded, but if you get in my vehicle and turn the radio on....it will be on a country music station. As for the wax bottoms, I think I've seen some 84's. Not certain.

  4. I like the box bottoms and have a few cards in my collection of Strawberry and Kruk. That Donruss Gooden is amazing. Good luck preparing for the distance learning. I hope it works out with minimal kinks and frustrations. The Saberhagen box bottom card almost looks like the exact same day as the base card. Just with slightly darkened sky.

  5. I remember those box bottom cards and always being annoyed that almost every one that I ever owned was horribly scratched or had dinged cornerss from damage to the box! Great cards though, especially the 86s.

    In addition to asking when they started, I`m curious as to when they stopped. I think maybe it was in 1992 that Topps stopped doing that?

  6. Those box bottom cards remind me of the sp variations of today.

  7. The '85 Donruss Gooden is fantastic. I didn't start collecting until 1986 but I saw plenty of those Topps box bottoms and even have an uncut box in my closet (not sure which panel)

    Country music is not my thing at all but if I had to listen to it (because my boss sits across from me and plays it all day, for example?) I'd go with old school stuff. Can't deal with the current artists.

  8. I always thought the red on these designs was so jarring after seeing the black.

  9. Love box bottoms and am trying to complete as many of the sets as possible. Don't like spending a bunch for them since they're usually beat up but they're some of my favorite things. I used to get the empties from my local grocery store (1990 and 1991 Fleer).

  10. It was great when they made them different from the regular issues.

  11. Not 100 percent sure but I think the '60s and '70s Bazooka cards were cut from the boxes themselves. If so, I'm forever thankful to them for introducing box bottoms to the hobby (and I really need to find a copy of that '85 Gooden).

  12. Topps started the Cards on the bottom of the box in 1983. But not for regular baseball cards. They did it for their stickers. I only know this because I looked it up in my Standard Catalog. The first box bottoms I remember were from 1985 Topps Football.

    The earliest boxes I know of that had cards in them was Wheaties.

  13. I was going to mention the 1983 sticker boxes too.. 2 cards per box. Inside the boxes there were about 10 panels of the mini album stickers. The card set focused on BA leaders. There’s a rookie year Boggs, among other great plsyers

  14. Great post! Love the red borders and different photos. I wasn't aware of these, but will have to start looking for some.

  15. gcrl - i'll have to try and get my hands on some of those 86 cramer box bottoms.

    runforekelloggs - good comparison with the hostess cards. they were both exposed to retail shelves a lot

    johnnys trading spot - i don't listen to country very often, but when i do it's modern country that sounds like pop or rock. as for the 84's... if you ever figure out which ones contain box bottoms, please let me know.

    peter k steinberg - the distance learning thing is different... and has been stressful. but it is what it is... and has to be done. looks like the two saberhagens might have been taken on the same day. just like the two mcgees might have been taken on the same day as well

    sean - yeah, they're hard to find in mint condition. as for when they stopped... it might have been 1992... but they started up again here and there. i think i have some from the mid 2000's and obviously topps started producing them again recently

    big tone - yeah, they are variations of a sort... but they have different card numbers

    chris - i'm the opposite in regards to country. i prefer the newer stuff. i think because it sounds less like country and more like rock or pop

    the lost collector - they're definitely different. the 1985 football cards are even more jarring

    nick vossbrink - i was working at a card shop once 1990 and 1991 rolled around, but i don't think i ever thought to ask if i could have the empty boxes with the cards on them :(

    runforekelloggs - yeah... i like how they used a different color to differentiate them from the regular pack pulled cards

    nick - i think you're right. but when i think of box bottom cards, i'm mainly thinking about cards from the bottom of wax boxes (that contained packs of cards).

    adame - thanks for the info. i definitely look into them.

    baltmoss68 - wow. i'd love to get my hands on one of those boggs. very cool. thanks for the heads up

    cincicuse bill -i think the red looks especially good with reds and cardinals players