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Circa 1950 Topps "Animals" Original Artwork Collection (25)
Starting Bid - $200, Sold For - $1,541
Presented is a fascinating and unusual collection of twenty-five original artworks featuring a variety of animals and dating to approximately the early 1950s. These artworks were consigned with a collection of circa 1950 Topps artworks ("Freedom's War" and "Auto License Plates") and appear to be the artwork for a Topps project that never came to fruition. (At press, we are not familiar with the set, although it is always possible that a reader will recognize the issue and if so, we will update this description.) The handwritten note which accompanied only identified them as "Animals" without further reference to the year of issue, the total number of cards in a set, and whether or not these cards ever actually produced. Research into these artworks, and input from Topps researcher and scholar David Hornish, pointed us to the 1989 Guernsey's Topps auction, where eleven very similar artworks appeared on page 189 of the catalog described as 1949 "Animals of the World." Comparing the artworks from that sale to the issued cards of the "Animals of the World" series, however, shows that they are executed in different styles, with the latter being much more subdued and basic than the depictions on the offered artworks. The offered artworks do share some design elements with the 1950-1951 Topps "Bring 'Em Back Alive" set, which research shows was scheduled to be expanded in a second series in the wake of the lackluster performance of Topps "Freedom's War" set. The second series ultimately never came to fruition, possibly because of difficulty securing proper licensing, and "Animals of the World" assumed its numbering and place in the Topps product line. This somewhat complex relationship between "Bring 'Em Back Alive" and "Animals of the World" may explain the origins of the twenty-five artworks offered in this lot, which could have been intended to be part of the second series of "Bring 'Em Back Alive" or could have been early drafts for "Animals of the World," which were then deemed too shocking for release. (A more detailed explanation of this theory is documented on David Hornish's website at the following link: http://toppsarchives.blogspot.com/2012/01/animalistic.html.) To the best of our knowledge, the subjects presented on the offered artworks were never published as part of an issued Topps series. Nevertheless, they are an incredibly interesting group that could hold the secret to one of Topps' early nonsport projects. Each artwork area measures 3.5 x 5 inches and is executed on thick artist's board measuring approximately 4.75 x 6 inches. Production notations are visible in the margins, along with numbering in the lower right corner, and standard production remnants are present on the blank reverses, as is common with original artworks. While we may never know with certainty the defining details of the intended set for which of these original artworks were created, they are an exceptional and fascinating assembly, which would enhance any original artwork, Topps, or card-production collection. Total: 25 artworks. Reserve $200. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,541
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