1963 Topps Football
Color Variations
Notes & Observations
Note: As of 3/9, for simplicity sakes, the original purpleish sky varieties will now be referred to as "Type A" and the greenish tint varietis will be refered to as "Type B".
What, never seen or heard of these before? You're not alone! Most people are skeptical about these and choose to believe they are simply inking anomolies and not intentional varieties. Well, after exchanging emails with several people, including individuals who are knowledeable in lithographic printing, I now firmly believe they are intentional, never-before-catalogued, varieties.
On this website I will not go into technical matters of how these were done, mostly because I do not have the technical know how. I am simply going to be showing scans of the cards that I believe exist in 2 variations. I will also add a little descriptive text to help describe the differences.
The basic difference in the variations is the total, and intentional, absence of the red color in certain areas of the cards. These differences can clearly be seen, under magnification. (See detailed explanation below)
The cards are going to be listed in numerical order, by team, with each team being on a seperate page of this site. Team cards and checklists are not affected and are not listed.
I will be adding team pages as I get time, and will update each team as I find new variations.

 #1-11 Baltimore Colts Updated 8/5/03 **
 #13-23 Cleveland Browns Updated 2/13/05 **
 #25-35 Detroit Lions Updated 8/11/03 **
 #37-47 Los Angeles Rams Updated 2/13/05
 #49-59 New York Giants Updated 2/21/05
 #61-71 Chicago Bears Updated 2/13/05
 #73-83 Dallas Cowboys Updated 2/13/05
 #86-96 Green Bay Packers Updated 2/21/05
 #98-108 Minnesota Vikings Updated 2/6/05
 #110-120 Philadelphia Eagles Updated 2/21/05 **
 #122-132 Pittsburgh Steelers Updated 2/6/05
 #134-144 San Francisco 49ers Updated 9/6/03 **
 #146-156 St Louis Cardinals Updated 8/13/03
 #158-168 Washington Redskins Updated 2/21/05

** - Denotes that this team is complete as far as I am aware.

 Latest updates and additions
6/28/14 - Been almost 10 years since I last updated this. Found an interesting uncut advertising panel which can be seen on the NOTES page.
Please note that I am not a printer and do not know the technical terms for all of this. I'm simply describing what I see and what I know.
The lithographic printing process that produced these cards uses a 4-color process, similar to a standard inkjet printer. That is to say that every color you see on the card is made using a combination of 4 different colors only. The colors are yellow, blue (cyan), red (magenta) and black.
In the example above, the card on the left (type A) appears to have a purple sky to the naked eye. If looked at under magnification, you will actually see blue, red, and a small amount of yellow colored dots. Combined, they give the illusion that it is purple. The card on the right (type B) appears to have a blue sky. Again, looking under magnification, you will see that it only has the blue and small amount of yellow colored dots. The red in the sky has been removed.
I have blown up the 2 areas being pointed to by the blue A and B in the above scan. I chose these areas because they included portions of the sky, the trees, and the uniform, to get a better idea of what I am refering to.
Here is a 60x enlargement of the small square being pointed to as A. Notice that the uniform at the right, the trees in the lower left, and the sky above it, all contain various sizes of the 4 colored dots used in the process. The sky in particular is made up of blue, red, and yellow.
This 60x enlargement of the same area, pointed to as B above, shows all the same colored dots in the uniform at left and the trees in the bottom left. But, the sky now only contains blue and yellow. The red has been ommitted. This is consistant throughout the sky on the whole card. stopping, sharply at the trees, and at the players outline. The ONLY way for this to be able to happen is by masking the red off when the red screen was made.

Please note that the majority of these variations have a purple sky, which is why they are generally referred to as "purple sky variations". But in reality, some cards don't have a purple sky, and only the trees or background, for example, have been altered. However, under magnification, these alterations, whether it's the sky, the trees, or something else in the background, show the same effect. That is that type A's include the red color dots, and type B's have had them removed on certain areas of the card. Type A's are from the first production run of cards and somewhere along the line they decided to "correct" the colors on them, leaving subsequent print runs with the corrected cards.

My personal investigation shows that Type A's are more scarce than type B. Somewhere in the range of 10x as many B's as A's, leading me to the belief that the changes were made early in the production life of these cards.

Some cards might have been corrected more than once

These variations have been called "purple sky variations" becaue the majority of them have a purpleish tint to the the sky as the common theme. However, on some cards the variation is not the sky alone, it's the background, or trees, or both. Some appear to have even been corrected more than once, although ponly 2 production versions exist.. The first correction probably occurred prior to the first production run. Then, the second correction came after the initial production run, with all of the other corrections. The Leo Nomellini card is one of those cases I believe.

Here is what I belive the Nomellini card originally would have looked like, based on what the other pre-corrected cards from the 49ers look like, along with the first run card and the 2nd, more common, corrected card.

The first card in this trio is what I believe the card would have looked like had it gone uncorrected in pre-production. It is most likely what the original photo looked like. I digitally altered the sky area (and not very well....so sue me), adding red back into it to make it appear purpleish. During pre-production, someone didn't like the sky looking purple so it was "corrected" using masking techniques. Leaving the ground, trees and Leo himself still in the original colors (2nd card). This would have been the card produced during the initial printing. Then, I'm guessing, they still didn't care for the look of the brown grass and trees and decided to mask completely around Leo, and his helmet, denying the red ink to the entire background, leaving everything behind him in a odd green, glowing color (3rd card). This correction occurred after the intial print run, aong with the wholesale corrections to the rest of the 115 player cards that were corrected. Of the 2 production cards, the 3rd card shown is the most commonly found variation.

There are other corrected cards in the set that I believe were twice corrected, like this Nomellini card, but this serves as a pretty good example.