1967 Leaf Star Trek Trading Cards
The first Star Trek trading cards were produced in 1967, released one year after the series debuted. These were manufactured and distributed by Leaf Brands Division, WR Grace & Co of Chicago. This was a limited-scale run with sources saying it had a small geographical distribution within the Ohio and Illinois areas. The trading cards didn’t get too far before there were controversies on whether Leaf had licenses to distribute Star Trek cards in the first place. As soon as the licensing problems came to light, all cards that hadn’t been distributed were destroyed and all others were recalled if they had not been sold yet. In the set, there were 72 base cards. They had black and white pictures on the front. The pictures were randomly chosen from episodes and, in some cases, taken from behind the scenes or from publicity shots.
The text on the back typically didn’t match up to the picture on the front and was written haphazardly. These cards were printed on layered card stock and measured at 2 ⅜” x 3 7/16”. The popularity grew, and with this new craze came many unauthorized reprints.
Dan Kremer Reprints
Dan Kremer Imports in Europe reprinted the 1967 Leaf cards without any rights to do so. They were considered counterfeit and were of terrible quality. Most of these are easily recognizable due to the blurry picture quality, and the pictures were cropped from the original, so the outer edges of the images are missing. Also, the cut on the card was not precise and was slightly smaller than the original. The cards were printed on non-gloss-coated single-layer card stock.
1981 Reprint is easily recognized by the mark on the back stating “1981 Reprint” where the “Leaf Brands” originally was. These were also printed on a very bright white stock of paper. The images are very crisp, and the cut is precise, with the cards being the exact size of the originals. There are 2 versions of these reprints. One of the versions has a red-toned print of Kirk & Spock on the backs, while the other version has a black and white print of Kirk & Spock on the back.
Though they were unauthorized reprints, these cards are still sought after by some as being part of history.
1969 A&BC Star Trek Cards
The next Original Series Star Trek Cards are the 1969 A&BC cards from the UK. There were 55 cards total, with 3 cards to a pack and one stick of bubble gum. 48 packs were in a box. Interestingly, these cards are based on one episode called “What Are Little Girls Made Of” about Dr. Corby and his androids. They are fascinating to read, almost like reading from a book. This is the first full-color Star Trek Trading Card set ever made. There were a few errors made within the texts on the back. Captain Kirk was called “Roger Kirk” on the very first card. Spock is called the “Cross between Earthman and a Martian.” We all know Spock is half-human and half-Vulcan. Come on! Android Ruk is spelled Rock within all the cards that mention him. Another exciting feature is that some card backs contain fun “Space Facts” which are entertaining, and some are a bit outdated!
1971 English Primrose Confectionery Star Trek
My next favorite in the Original Series is the 1971 (some sources say 1970) English Primrose Confectionery Co. Ltd “Stamp” Set.
There were 12 stamps in the set, inserted 1 per box of sweet cigarettes. They are stamp size, 1 ⅜” x 2 ½”, but do not have gum on the backs. Each has a colorful retro-looking front depicting cartoonish images with backs having text broadly based on things from the Original Series. All cards have “Issued A.D. 2307” written on them. The Original Series was set in 2266-2269. These stamps are highly counterfeited, but you can usually tell the difference if you look closely. Most reprints are cut smaller than the original size, and some have zigzag borders instead of smooth straight borders.
1976 Topps Star Trek
Next on the list are the 1976 Topps trading cards made in the USA. These are the first full-color Trek sets released in the U.S. O-Pee-Chee made and distributed the same exact cards in Canada.
The only difference you may find in the US vs Canada is the Canadian version is known to have rougher edges due to a possible dull cutter used to cut sheets. There are 88 base cards in the set, and 22 sticker card inserts. There were 5 cards and 1 sticker per pack. 36 packs per box. The card size was 2 ½” x 3 ½”.
Interesting fact: these cover all 3 seasons of The Original Series, from the synopsis of episodes, characters, and actors to information on equipment and more. The very popular character, Sulu, was never mentioned on any of the cards or stickers and I can’t find an explanation anywhere of why.
1976 Scanlens Confectionery Cards from Down Under
The 1976 Scanlens Confectionery cards from Australia and the Allen’s & Regina cards from New Zealand are considered the sister sets to the Topps 1976 set. There are only 72 cards in this base set with no sticker chase cards.
There were 3 cards in a pack. The Topps brand is located on the back of each card. These are also numbered differently, and photos are sequenced differently than the Topps set from the US. There are no differences in the Australian vs New Zealand cards. The only difference was in the wrappers. New Zealand wrappers had Topps Chewing Gum printed on them. They also say, “Put discarded wrappers in rubbish bin. Be a tidy Kiwii.” On the Australian wrapper, it is mentioned “Made in Australia by Scanlen Sweets Pty, Ltd” on them.
Interestingly, there is not one PSA-registered, full-graded set out there.
A lot of these cards are still a bit of a mystery. Not much was documented about the licenses, backstories, or reasoning behind why some episodes were chosen. So many questions left unanswered and that’s what makes them even more exciting and interesting. The love for Star Trek was carried on with these cards after the 3 seasons ended. The demand for more Star Trek was high back when there wasn’t social media or instant replay. People just wanted to get their hands on anything that would help them remember episodes and characters of their favorite show! These Star Trek cards are highly coveted by Trekkies and collectors all over the world. I’d love to know what Star Trek cards you have and the story behind them.