Good morning and Happy Monday! What better time of the week to kick off a new blog series based on the goodies found in the vaults right here in the mouldering basement of the MYSTERIOUS MANSION? From here on out, every Monday I'll be posting a monster trading card or sometimes another monster-related goodie from my arcane archives for your vapid viewing pleasure.
We'll start off with a card from a series that is near and dear to me. Known alternately as SPOOK THEATRE and more commonly as SPOOK STORIES, these monster trading cards were published by Leaf Brands, originally a candy company! The company, now headquartered in The Netherlands as Leaf International was started way back in the 1920s by a fella by the name of Sol S. Leaf in Chicago, Illinois. Sol ran various candy and confectionery companies and consolidated them all into Leaf Brands in 1947. In 1940, he introduced Rainblo bubble gum. The gumballs were the first in the candy stores with flavoring and and coloring throughout. Up until then, gumballs were only flavored on the outside shell. In 1948, Leaf introduced a set of baseball cards, generally recognized as the first company to issue a complete set of sports cards.
Just a little over a decade later, Leaf issued SPOOK THEATRE, STARRING FRANKENSTEIN AND HIS FRIENDS. The cards are copyrighted "1961, Leaf Brands, Inc.", but were actually circulated between 1963 and 1965 (even the first set of baseball cards was copyrighted in 1948 but didn't get released until the next year). Right in the middle of those two years is when I bought my hundred or so packs. The cards came in two series of 72 cards each and depicted a "genuine, authentic photograph" from the various classic Universal monster movies. The obligatory joke was printed right beneath the picture. Some of them were actually humorous to a degree. The numbered backs featured "Spook Talk", which was more jokes, "daffynitions", and more, not so humorous gags. Anyway, us monsterkids usually weren't interested in the jokes as a rule.
The cards were sold in the typical heavy cardstock display box and were packed 36 packs to a box. The original series was entitled "Spook Theatre" and the second series was called "Son of Spook Theatre". Each "wax pack" came with a strip of that obnoxious pink stuff passing as bubble gum and a sticker depicting a brightly-colored illustration of such nice things as black cats, vultures, skulls, werewolves, and an odd assortment of un-named creatures. The un-numbered series of 48 stickers had postage stamp-styled gummed backs. Current collector prices for each complete 72 card set range from $200 to $350. An individual sticker collector's price ranges from $18 to $28. Oh, for an un-opened box!
Oddly enough, I can't recall any monster magazine at the time selling or promoting monster cards, or at least this particular series. So, why have them on a MONSTER MAGAZINE BLOGSPOT? Because, they are part of my monsterkid experience and they are just too cool to "Leaf" in a shoebox in the basement of the MYSTERIOUS MANSION, that's why!