Monday, June 25, 2012

04 1960 Armour Coins Part 2

Picking up where we left off, lets look at the 1960 Armour colors from a standpoint of Mantle coins.

The key to 1960 Mantle coins is having a complete back rim which we shall discuss below.
Transparent /translucent coins are much rarer than their opaque counterparts.

Below is a  list of Mantles that I have or have seen.

Red: common color but very difficult to find with complete rims (more on that below)
trans Red: never seen one for any coin

Red Orange: common color

trans Red/orange: seen it for many of the other 1960s but not Mantle

Orange: very rare color - SFLA Yank has a MAntle in bright orange
trans orange ??

Yellow : plenty of these avaiable
trans yellow - rare, never seen one with complete rims

Pale Blue - common color many available with complete rims
trans pale blue - rare, I have Mantle, Fox, Crandall & Malzone

Royal Blue - common color - never seen one with complete back rims
royal blue trans - never seen one

Navy Blue - rare a few with rims are available
trans navy blue - have one Mantle ungraded also a Banks and Crandall.

Aqua - very rare but available with complete rims
trans aqua - never seen for any player

slate blue - very rare opaque coin never seen with complete rims
trans slate blue ??

lime green - common color, many of them with complete rims
trans lime green - rare color, I have Mantle and most of he others

medium green - rarer for Mantle
trans med green -rare color,  have not seen one for Mantle

dark green - common color most have complete rim
trans dk green - appear to be 50/50 opaque vs trans

Now lets talk about the partial rims. This is a phenomina that shows up only for 1960 coins and only for the Aaron group. For whatever reason it is most pronounced for Mantle coins.

I acually found one that was intact with its offset rim "hanging by a thread". Pics of the front and back are below:

From the back pic you can see the thin sliver of plastic hanging off the coin with a nick already having broken off. The rim edge must be offset in the mold that these are formed from, but why this is so shall forever be named unknown. Why the Mantle coin so much more than the rest ?

Early on in the grading process at PSA, they started grading these partial rim coins as high as PSA 9's. !

After discussions with Bob Lemke of the Std Catalog of BB Cards he added the following text to his description of the coins which is still there to date and says in essence "..a partial rim coin should not be graded higher than a very good."

In the fall of 2005 sflayank, I and others petitioned Joe Orlando to correct the PSA grading process and regrade coins they had screwed up. The final response from PSA was:

"We have discussed this at length and do not agree with the Standard Catalogue’s assessment.  

While we think the reverse is a factor (the degree that a small piece may be missing), we do not feel that warrants dropping the grade harshly.  Perhaps the coins should be precluded from reaching a “10” for instance but we see no reason to knock a coin to a mid or low grade due to a minor manufacturer defect that does not affect the overall eye appeal very much. 

Take care and I do appreciate your candor,"

hummmmm.. Would they do this for cards ?? Not hardly.  At the very least these coins should be labeled OC. . Anyway, buyer beware when you buy Mantle coins even if they have been PSA graded.

Next lets look at the mystery coin of 1960 - the Bud Daley coin. For many years it has been known as the rarest of all Armour coins. This probably is not true. The rarest coin is most likely the 1955 Mantle spelled correct L-R (which we shall discuss in the future). The Daley has widely been placed into the Allison group so there should be a red/orange; a regular yellow and a mustard yellow at the least. I have seen a mustard yellow but do not own one myself. Below are the red/orange and yellow coins.

Are there any other colors ? Maybe, here is a comparison of two Daleys that I have. The one on the right is the normal red/orange. The one on the left is not Salmon, but it sure isnt traditional red/orange !

 Lastly there are the so called Daley "test" colors . These popped up in ~ 2005 and supposedly were test colors that were one of a kind items made in 1960. The early auctions saw these coins going for > $1200 each.

The colors that I have seen include the ones shown below including:    black, clear, green, bright yelow, white, grey, olive green, bright red.  I have also seen navy, brown and probably a few others. Keeping track of these for the past 7 years (especially since they started getting graded) I can tell you that there are at least 3 of each except the completely clear. I have only seen one of those, it was graded PSA 10 and I still own it. The olive, grey, white, yellow and a navy blue have passed through my hands and I have made money buying and then selling these.

Pricing for these have steadily come down and I'm now seeing them go for $ ~ 400.

Another thing I can tell you is that the plastic used for these is NOT the same as that used for production of the coins in 55, 59 or 60. The way you can tell this is by droping the coins onto a wooden surface. The "test" coins have more of a plunk sound to them. If you have one try it. Why would anyone test out new colors with a different plastic ?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

03 The 1960 Armour set Part 1

Next lets take a look at the 1960 Armour set. The 1960 coins are the most prevalent of the 3 years of Armour coins. There are 20 different players depicted in this set and there are 3 accepted variations (Aaron, Drysdale and Malzone) and lots of interesting colors. This set also included what is thought to be the rarest armour coin - Bud Daley. Like the 1959 set , the 1960 set breaks into two groupings shown in the Table below. The Aaron group (white lines) come in 7 common colors including red, red/orange, light blue, royal blue, lime green, dark green, yellow. The second group, the Allison group (grey lines) come  in common colors of red/orange and yellow. The other major issue in the 1960 set is determination of condition. Several of the Aaron group cons, especially the Mantle are found in significantly higher % with defective back rims, or more precisely with 25 to 50+ % of the back rim missing. We will discuss this further later.

Here is an advertisement done to promote the coins in 1960:

Towards the end of the summer, Armour offered 10 coins for a dollar and a few proof of purchases. Here is a copy of the envelope that the coins came back in:

Lets take a look at the common colors which are all available as well in translucent and in some cases nearly transparent variations. I know of no examples of trans red.

Next come the rare colors which include bright orange, navy blue, slate blue, aqua, blue grey, medium green, mustard yellow, dark yellow. These are shown below along with one of a kind Conley  salmon , Aaron brownish and Crandall 1959 light yellow.

Top: salmon, red/orange, yellow, dk yellow, mustard yellow
Middle: Red, red/orange, bright orange, trans red/orange, brown
Bottom: yellow, trans yellow, pale yellow (like 1959) 

Top: dk green, med green, lime green, trans lime green, trans med green
Middle: Navy Blue, Royal Blue, lt blue, trans lt blue
Bottom: slate blue, grey blue, aqua

Salmon is a rare unusual color. Since it exists for Conley and Boyer (see zoom below) the tendancy is to label it a allison group color and proclaim that all the allison group should exist in salmon. Maybe, but I'm not sure yet because a salmon Malzone BRS exists and I have also seen a sflayank Mantle coin in this exact color , so maybe salmon exists for both groups but is very rare for both groups..

Next lets look at the player varations. Aaron exists as both "Braves" and "Milwaukee Braves" (MB)and Malzone exists as "Red Sox" and "Boston Red Sox" (BRS). MB and BSR are considerably more rare.

The last variation is Drysdale which exists as L.A. and L.  A. with anoticably larger spread between the L and the A. These are the so caller condensed and spread variations Below is a mustard yellow spread (left) and a yellow condensed (right). be continued..........................


Saturday, June 16, 2012

02 Armour Coins 1959

          The 1959 Armour set is the easiest to discuss and collect because it 's        variation free. First lets look at the composition of this 20 coin set.

         As can be seen in the table below, the set comes in two groups which, in some instances,  we will see determine what colors are available.

         As of June 2012 there are (1261) 1959 aromour coins graded by
              PSA     there are no rare player coins in 1959. The Aaron coin, is the most in demand, especially in rare colors.

Lets call group 1 (the white lines) the Aaron group and group 2 (the grey lines) the Antonelli group.
Several of the rare colors appear only in one group or the other which we shall explain below.  

Both the Aaron group and the Antonelli group ae available in the 4 very common colors (red, orange, navy blue and green) Royal blue and yellow appear to be somwhat rarer, in fact I have the complete set in yellow, but am missing 5 of the royal blue coins. I think we can be sure that all of these exist making for 120 color variations .

It should also be noted that Armour,  in return for proof of purchases,  sent 10 random player coins to kids but only in the 4 very common colors of red, orange, green and navy blue.

Now lets look at some examples of these coins.  

Next lets look at the colors that are very clearly tied to either the Aaron or Antonelli group. So called light blue and grey/green have only showed up as group 1 coins and two shades of pink, a light pink and a dark pink (UPDATE 1/18/2013 - SEE BLOG 10 !))  have only showed up as type 2 coins. These are significantly rarer than the six colors discussed above. From my experience, grey/green is rarer than light blue and dark pink is rarer than pale pink. This accounts for another 40 coins that we are sure exist. That takes us up to 160 coins.


Below are examples of these colors.

Next a very special 1959 "color" - "speckled". These are coins that so far have shown up in transparent blue and aqua colors and appear to have bits of colored confetti incorporated into them. These have all but disappeared from EBay over the last 5 years . There is no documentation that states whether these were made in both group 1 and 2, but the only ones I have ever seen are all from group 1. I personally have Ashburn, Fox, Malzone, Siever and Skinner. Never seen an Aaron. Do they exist for group 2 - none of the collectors that I know think so ! So there are probably a total of 20 speckled coins (10 in blue and 10 in aqua). Needless to say these can now be listed as super rare.
                                              (UPDATE 1/13/2013 - SEE BLOG 11 !)

Lastly there are colors that are certainly confirmed but exist in such small mnumbers that we cannot be sure if they are limited to group 1 or group 2 or only subsets of theose groups. These colors consist of dark red, pale red, very pale red, burnt orange, dark greyblue, opaque green, dark green, cream and s more standard yellow. For these cases I'll just show you the ones I know exist altough there are probably many more.

Below are pics of some of these very rare coins.  

Hope this helps you understand the 1959 I said its all in the colors.
There are other issues like "transparancy" and "bust tilts" color "swirls" which we will discuss seperately later.
If you have coins that are examples of colors not mentioned here or have rare colors that you'd like to sell, please get in contact with me at

Sunday, June 10, 2012

01 Why a blog on armour coins ?

I guess we should start off with an introduction. My name is Phil Garrou. In the world of Armour coins I'm known as ArmourPhil. I grew up in Hells Kitchen in NYC in the 1950's and 60's  and one night a week my family had "beans and franks". During the summers of 1955, 1959 and 1960 Armour franks offered a premium for kids in their packages of franks which were different colored plastic coins baseball players.

I kept these coins tucked away in a cigar box and later in life , in the late 1970's, when my interest in BB cards and other memorabelia had been rekindled by co-worker Larry Duquette, I found that these coins were catalogued and were actually available at BB card shows in the area (Framingham MA). That really began my quest for the perfect collection.

With the inception of the internet and EBay I found that others had these coins and were willing to sell them , which has built up my sets at a much more rapid pace.

In the last decade, working with other collectors we have identified significant variations, especially in the 1955 set which had never been catalogued before.

The purpose of this blog will be to docuent all that we have found. Until recently we have kept Bob Lemke in the loop and he has been diligent getting any new variations into the Std Catalog of BB Cards (which he edited until his recent retirement) . He now informs me that the current editors have no interest in adding to, or correcting, past entries (no money in this) so I feel an obligation to get all the info that I have documented herein.

Armour coins are currntly graded by PSA and you can find a list of the graded collections here:

1955 [link]                         1959 [link]                       1960 [link]

An article that I wrote for PSA back in 2006 can be found here [link].

In each blog I will attempt to tackle a specific year or topic and share what I have learned with you. The biggest probem I forsee is that color is a key attribute to armour coins and the software in our computers may not allow you to see what the eye can very easily pick up in terms of color differences, but we will try the best we can.

For this blog I will finish with a picture of the coin that started it all, the 1955 Mantle in orange. You can see that Mantle is spelled "Mantel" on the front of the coin. This error was later corrected. This miss spelling is the common coin.

(click on picture for larger version)