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How the Beatles Found Themselves Featured on Topps Trading Cards

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You know you’ve made it in America when you get your image on a bubblegum card. In May 1964, as all things Beatles were taking hold over the youth of the world, Topps got in on the game, issuing the first in a series of Beatles trading cards. The original series featured a total of 60 black and white cards in the set, and sold for five cents a package.

Topps had been doing quite well selling baseball cards since 1950, and knew a golden opportunity was at hand. Card designer Sy Berger made the trek to England in early-1964 to meet with Beatles manager Brian Epstein to negotiate the deal. Berger, known as the father of the modern baseball card after designing Topps’ first set at his kitchen table, reportedly closed the deal by speaking Yiddish to Epstein.

Between 1964 and 1965, three series of cards were issued, with color photographs and information on the back eventually worked into the equation. One set of ’64-era color cards listed John Lennon‘s favorite band as the Shirelles, and Paul McCartney‘s as Little Richard. George Harrison said he liked drive-in movies, while Ringo Starr preferred science fiction.

There were other sets of cards issued at various points in the ’80s and ’90s, but the original three series remain the most highly collectible for Beatles fans. Today, they sometimes sell for hundreds of dollars in various eBay auctions.

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