Today's post is a continuation of the prior post and of one discovery I made involving my 1970 Kellogg's Red Sox items. The reason it took so long is as a writer and researcher you don't want to feel naked when writing about a subject matter that your supposed to be know something about but want to have a reader learn new things either from a personal or professional perspective. While I knew plenty about Kellogg's items having been there and seen them from development forward, I didn't have the proper backup I really wanted to explain the subject matter in the depth I wanted to. So I went and purchased said subject matter so I could show actual pics of it. Hence the month wait until my next post ( being sick hasn't helped matters).
The story of that Reggie Smith Kellogg " XoGraph " item noted above starts in the early 1950's. While I thought I knew most of it- research led me to believe I had gone down Alice's " rabbit hole" as I apparently knew only about my own little world- nothing more.
A photographer by the name of Arthur Rothstein was looking to bring a form of photography he loved called " auto-stereoscopic" photography to others, but to do it cheaply. Up until then it was prohibitively expensive to produce images that used the 3D "auto-stereoscopic" technology. At the same time he was looking someone came looking for him- a man called Marvin Whatmore who was the general manager of LOOK magazine. If your young this is before your "Time" ( sorry- old person joke there) but LOOK was a very famous magazine that circulated and brought photo images to the masses- sort of the words first "photography" kings. Numerous LOOK magazines showed baseball stars over the years as the magazines main focus was photos and not articles.While the magazines contained articles they were know for their photography.
Anyways Mr Rothstein was hired by Mr Whatmore to be his technical director and thus began a relationship that eventually resulted in the production in 1964 in LOOK magazine of one of the worlds first mass produced "3D" photos. For such a great invention you'd think they'd place it front and center- say in the middle. Yet if you can locate an original LOOK magazine it will be inside the February 25, 1964 issue between pages 102 and 103- the near end of the magazine. This is why it took me so long to write this next article. I didn't have this issue available to me ( buried as usual) so I went and purchased a new copy so I'd have it and be able to use the images from it to show people.
If you research the subject matter you'll need to get a degree in photography and printing while your at it because it gets highly technical. Condensing it down - the importance of the LOOK item is it was the first time a mass produced 3D " parallax panoramagram" was cheaply available to the general public. This was a type of 3D photography that others had been working on but no one had yet licked the fact that mass production was just prohibitively expensive to engage in any form of commercial success. While other companies did produce such items-- theirs was the first on such a massive scale that was done cheaply. Upwards of 8 million items were produced for this issue - and 100 million items over a 4 year period from 1964-1968.
Long story shortened-- it took 13 years of research to perfect, used a 3D camera that had just 2 in existence at the time, and used the technical skills and expertise of Eastman Kodak Company and its subsidiaries to mass produce this 3D item cheaply. The folks involved worked hard to say the least.
A breakdown of the companies involved in producing what became our 1970-80's Kellogg,s items shows that this involved contributions from many places. While Whatmore & Rothstein get the credit for the introduction of the actual item to the masses, to me important work was done by the companies who helped them bring their dreams to fruition. These companies and their employees rightfully deserve as much respect and acknowledgment as the people whose work wouldn't have come to fruition without their help.
Crowles Communications - employer of Marvin Whatmore and Arthur Rothstein. Rothstein was the technical director of the project as he had an advanced interest in commercially bringing 3D photography to people and Whatmore's LOOK magazine was just the place to get in on the advance photography front. Without Crowles Communications coordinating the entire project it wouldn't have happened.
Eastman Kodak Company / subsidiary Eastman Chemical - developed the 3D technology needed to take the photos and plastics and make them adhere in such a way the photos and plastic maintained their properties when handled in a high speed manufacturing process for low cost.
Harris-Interype Corp- creators of the 3D printing press used to produce the 3D items. Without their work with Eastman Kodak's engineers and developers none of the next generation of color items would happen as the advanced printing techniques required a press to be built from scratch and without them the work of the two companies above wouldn't have happened either. Again- equally deserving of our recognition.
Visual Panographics - the employers of Whatmore and Rothstein created a printing arm specifically separate from Crowles Communication in order to be able to offer the developed technology to others. Visual owned and operate the single 3D press that Harris Intertype had created. We in our baseball card world wouldn't ever have been able to enjoy Kellogg's cards without them. They also had a relationship I believe with another company that will be explained below that I believe played a role in these items as
well. Located on Madison Ave in New York City this company later moved to the Dallas-Ft Worth area.
Below is the LOOK magazine issue that was produced which showed what to we in the baseball world would consider the first " 3D" type item. Its the February 25,1964 issue of Look. As you can see I'm showing the actual mag and a close up of the upper right corner. Seems rather unusual to promote such an invention but low key was the norm for the day ( drawing attention to ones self was "classless" in that day)
A closeup of the cover reveals the magazine did consider the introduction important - it just didn't scream it out
When you open the magazine to pages 102 and 103 you'll see some background on page 102 and this pic below on page 103. I have taken closeups of the actual image so people can see it much better
Rather underwhelming wasn't it. The black and white photo to me was rather surprising-- I'd imagined a color extravaganza. Compared to future productions of the Kellogg's cards that was an understatement. It shows 5 of Thomas Edison's inventions and was combined with a story about Edison and the LOOK picture above. I was underwhelmed by it but realized beings spoiled by future iterations of any item will make you think the first one that existed was rather primitive. Which it generally is- until others perfect and work on it to make it better.
A mere 4 months later and some better quality items came to market. The April 7, 1964 LOOK magazine contained a 2nd photo and other photos began to appear. Notice this one for Kodel, which was a product Eastman Chemical used for clothing. The woman's dress is actually Kodel fabric made for the photo shoot itself. Eastman was pimping its success in helping develop the technology
Later on LOOK magazine began another publishing venture thru Crowles Communication called VENTURE. In each travel magazine they included on of the photos produced specifically for VENTURE. With a circulation approaching 4 million plus in Venture each issue surely helped promote the products to the general public. The pic shown below promotes the magazines look at San Francisco's trolley system ( which had the Presidio, California St and Market St trolleys) and while you'd need the card in front of you to make out the names , the dragon is self evident and promotes San Francisco's Chinatown. I'd say a very effective way for a reader to remember a place they'd surely want to visit.
Fast forward 4 years from the above photos and lo and behold the 1968 TOPPS 3-D set appeared. While seemingly not connected to Kellogg's folks that's exactly what they are to me- connected. By strands that are interwoven thru various companies involved that further research may untangle.
For years it was know that the distribution of the 1968 Topps 3D set occurred in a very limited area of Brooklyn by the Topps Company. While researching this stuff I came across an interesting article from Keith Olbermann 10 years ago. One of nice benefits to having been in this hobby so long is knowing when a party has knowledge about a subject matter that may prove useful. Olberman was known to me as a teenager as he was my age and competed in the same arenas around New York City and New England. In those days--and of course today - he also always had more money than me so I generally lost out on many an item I wanted to his wallet. He chased rare stuff even back then. His interest in this set and its prototypes is well known.
Olberman speculated that Topps had decided the set was too cost prohibitive to produce and opted out of choosing to produce the 3D items for general distribution. Like many researchers he based his conclusions on the fact that the photos of Jim Maloney in the 1968 Topps 3-D set and the 1970 Kellogg’s 3-D set are identical. Since it was known "Xographics" name was involved in both sets it was surmised that Topps at the least had their hands in the pie started by Visual Panographics. On the back of several Topps 3D proof items was the warning “This is an experimental XOGRAPH ® card produced as limited edition. Not for public circulation or distribution. Not for resale. To be returned to: Visual Panographics, Inc. 488 Madison Avenue New York, New York.” Now how else can a "Kellogg" related item end up in a Topps product if there was no relationship? Goes back to the supplier of items of both- Visual Panographics.
A couple pics from Sports Collectors Daily article from 2014 revealed the box the 3-D items came from. In an earlier Post I showed a 1971 Topps Greatest Moments set and the rare pack wrapper from it. This wrapper is also equally rare ,yet despite this sold for less than $9000 combined with a proof card in a 2012 Mile High auction
Now if Topps had said "no" to an item in those days the go to people were always the food people if someone wanted their product to reach the general public. While its not discussed in any hobby related articles of the time ,nor in any other areas for quite a few years afterwards, fast forward nearly 10 years to 2015. I was made aware of the collection of John Benanti coming up for sale. In this unique collection were items obtained by John Benanti of Visual Panographics while employed there. His son decided to make them available after learning of their historical importance ( and possible values). You can locate the article HERE. While they didn't reveal the son's name ( I won't either due to respecting his privacy) his father was well known to me. I had come across his and other names when researching this stuff . Who is he ?? Well if you don't know who Victor Drago, Bill Feldman, John Benanti and many others are then Visual Panographics and LOOK magazine has certainly faded into oblivion is all I'll say. BTW his relatives and survivors can contact me at my email@example.com address if they care to discuss more about their family history as its very interesting stuff for people like me who appreciate hobby history as well !!
Olberman's research and the subsequent discovery of the same Visual Panographics warning leads me at least to believe that Topps either passed on production and it was marketed to the food people at Kellogg's and other places- or some business relationship between individuals known to each other when in New York allowed Visual Panographics to merely move on to the next party interested in their products.
I went looking for my 1970's related Kellogg's Red Sox and sadly cannot locate them here in Vegas despite one month of searching . I'm sure I'll eventually locate in storage and will try and update this post with the dozens of Kellogg's related items I own.
I did however in the course of my research unearth many pics that help me understand the distribution of a few the 1970 Kellogg's Red Sox items in my collection. Below are pics of the 1970's Kellogg's. We all probably remember these ads on the back of cereal boxes- this is the 1970 version
While most people remember the plain manila envelopes inside the cereal there was a 2nd method via a rather expensive ( for the time) rack pack distributed . In trying to get around the Topps monopoly they decided to sell " Team Iron On" items and include the Kellogg's cards for free. I can tell you they came out well after the cereal versions -- probably as a way to get the remaining stock of 1970 out of the way so 1971 Kellogg's items could be produced.
These items came out of the below box.
I have to say I don't like coincidences. It is apparent to me at least that Topps may have been involved in some way with helping point Visual Panographics in the right direction as far as distribution channels. I find it extremely unusual that the 1970 Kellogg's box shown above bears remarkable color similarity to the 1968 Topps 3D box that showed up at auction. Either that color was in vogue at the time or someone co-opted packaging hints from Topps. Methinks whatever 3rd party distributor that may have been used just re-used similar features to help distribution speed up.
I also find it unusual that outside of New York very few of the boxes have ever appeared of either 1968 Topps or 1970 Kellogg's 3D. Highly unusual for a well known and collected series. I was deep in the hobby back then and never once witnessed either box appear at any show I ever attended.
I noticed when researching the above items above in the Sportflics post that during the 1940 thru 60's there were numerous examples of variable image items produced by a company called VARI-VUE. Vari-Vue coined the name "lenticular" to describe their linear/lenticular lenses and "Magic-Motion" to describe any lenticular image containing motion. Long before those Sportflics items from Optigraphics came around there were tons of other items that were produced by Vari-Vue. An example of their items is below- we all will recognize the Beatles and Green Hornet items but they also handled political buttons and many other items. When I first started out looking at the Optigraphics stuff I suddenly realized there were similar technologies involved but that they varied in their production. Hence why I wanted to delve back into the Kellogg's back story a little more - peaked my interest. I noticed their were different imaging methods, different 3D effects methods, and also different plastics. Hence why I stated in the posts above that you'd need to develop an interest in photography and get a degree in the subtle variations of light effects and such to understand it all.
Frankly these items above are the color items I first remember showing properties like the later Kellogg's cards. I later learned that the Visual Panographics people had a relationship with the same folks that Vari-Vue used. Murky is the waters that surround the Sports scene and usage of the Kellogg's "principles". Vari-Vue, along with companies such as Crowles Communications, Hallmark, Toppan ("Top Stereo") and Dai-Nippon of Japan and later Optigraphics ("Optipan" and "Linearoptics") produced a wide variety of products from the 60's thru the 00's , including Cracker Jack premiums, Political buttons, 3D baseball cards, postcards, magazine and book covers and point-of-purchase displays.
I'll advise what further research uncovers but it will take a lot more digging. I do know patents that Vari-Vue has are pre-dated by nearly 30 years by others. Again- would require further research and a degree in several fields to decipher whose responsible for what.
Suffice to say my interest in a simple history of the Sportflics & Kellogg's items items led me down Alice's rabbit hole !!