Puzzles on the Backs of Vintage Football Cards
Some 1960s and 1970s Topps football cards have puzzle pieces on the back. The assembled puzzles typically show images of star players. The pictures below show the puzzles from the 1964 Topps CFL, 1968 Topps, and 1969 Topps sets. You can click on any puzzle piece to see the front of the card.
The puzzles were actually printed whole on the backs of the uncut sheets, then sliced up into individual cards.
1964 Topps CFL: A Big Football
I believe that the 1964 Topps CFL set was the first football card set to include a puzzle. When assembled, the backs of the nine team cards in the set form a picture of a football with the teams' logos on it. The image isn't too exciting, but the idea was novel at the time. The teams on the back match up with the teams on the front, a nice touch. (Check out the Saskatchewan Roughriders card; the team pictured on the front is actually the NFL's Cleveland Browns!)
1968 Topps: Bart Starr and Len Dawson
The backs of some second series 1968 Topps football cards form puzzles of Bart Starr and Len Dawson, the quarterbacks of Super Bowl I. The puzzles were printed intact on the backs of uncut sheets of 1968 Topps cards; my 1968 Topps virtual uncut sheet page shows their locations.
It is odd that Topps chose Dawson to be on a puzzle in 1968, since Daryle Lamonica was the AFL's Super Bowl quarterback the season before. Topps did honor Lamonica and the rest of the Raiders orienting their cards horizontally in the 1968 set. The cards of the other Super Bowl II team, the Green Bay Packers are oriented horizontally, as well.
Some 1968 Topps cards are snow white on the back, while others have a yellow-brown tone. You can see in Bart's face and in his jersey number that I have some of each.
It is also odd that, in 1968, Topps still had Len Dawson in his Browns uniform! Dawson played for the Browns in 1960 and 1961, completing a total of 15 passes.
1969 Topps: Fran Tarkenton
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