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1952 Topps Wings

Early 50s Classic!

The exact year of issue for Topps Wings cards seems to be a mystery.  Bob Nolan writes in The Wrapper, No. 97, that he remembers buying them in January of 1952.  I have a Wings vendor box that carries a 1952 copyright.  SGC insists they're a 1953 issue.  Others claim they came out in 1954. I remember buying them as a kid, but feel certain it was later than 1952.  I certainly remember not buying Wings cards and 1952 Topps baseball cards at the same time.  Probably they came out in varying forms in all three, or even more years.

Friend or Foe?

Topps Wings cards consist of 200 aircraft subjects: color paintings of planes of late 1940s and early 1950s vintage.  The paintings were produced from photographs supplied by the New York Herald Tribune.  The set was assigned American Card Catalog number R707-4.  A Name This Plane: "FRIEND or FOE" quiz appears on the card backs.  Wings cards were issued in 1¢ or 5¢ wax packs.  Both of these are pictured, below.  The cards measure 2-5/8" x 3-3/4".  I believe vendor boxes[1] contained 24 five-cent cello packs, each containing 5 cards, for a total of 120 cards.

A subset (numbers 1-80) of Wings cards were reissued with larger side borders by Doeskin Tissues[2] in the fall of 1955. They have "Doeskin" printed on the back in the copyright area. The Doeskin Wings set was assigned the ACC number F381. The Doeskin Wings cards measure 2-5/8" x 4-3/8".  Complete packages of these tissues, including the card, are sometimes offered on eBay.

There don't seem to any particular rarities or variations among the 200 Wings cards, however cards numbered 153 to 200 seem to be harder to find than the rest.  I have a theory that cards numbered 101-152, minus #118 and 149 made up the 3rd series, and cards #118, 149 and 153-on, comprised the last series produced.  Finding the first or last cards of the set in well-centered, near mint, or better condition is next to impossible.  There are some other cards that are very difficult to find in high-grade. They are: 2, 10, 11, 99, 100, 118, 125, 149, 150, 174, 175, and 181.

The aircraft image width of these cards is inconsistent throughout the set, leading to 3rd and 4th series cards being very difficult to find in well-centered condition. An unscientific study finds that the image on cards numbered 1-80 is 3-7/16" wide, images of cards numbered 81-100 is 3-3/8" wide, and cards numbered 101-200 have an image width of 3-1/2". For example: the aircraft image on a typical card #97 could be 1/8" narrower than the image on a card #189. This is not a scientific study - there are exceptions.

  • Complete checklists and graphics for R707-4 cards can be found on the Skytamer Web site.
  • An article on Topps Wings cards, by Kurt Kuersteiner,  appeared in issue #207 of The Wrapper.
  • My article on 3rd and 4th Series printing appeared in issue #227 of The Wrapper.
  • Three of my Topps Wings sets are registered with Sportscard Guarantee, LLC.  Please click here to see them.
  • Bill Bengen (Jean-Luc Picard) has two Topps Wings sets registered with PSA. Click here to see them.


Topps Wings #1 - Obverse
Topps Wings #1 - Reverse
Topps Wings - 1¢ Wax Pack
Topps Wings - 5¢ Wax Pack
Topps Wings - Cello Pack
Topps Wings - 5¢ Wrapper
Topps Wings - 3 Card Panel (Salesman's Sample)
[1]Topps Wings - Vendor Box
Doeskin Wings #5 - Front
Doeskin Wings #5 - Back
[2]Doeskin Tissue Package - Front
Doeskin Tissue Package - Rear

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