Jules Verne is one of my favorite authors. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island have been important parts of my library since childhood.
And I'd like to say the timing worked out so perfectly that this Jules Verne card from the 1952 Topps Look N' See release was exactly the 20,000th card I acquired for my collection. However, being that I didn't even know how many cards I had in my collection until recently, I can't make that claim.
Anyhow, back to the card itself. At about 2" x 3", it's smaller than a standard-sized baseball card. But if the front still looks familiar, you're onto something. The Topps baseball card design from the same year, 1952, sported quite a similar look.
Just replace the solid yellow border around the name with a marquee, and replace the "Famous Writers" icon with a team logo, and there you go.
The card backs are different, though, with a brief write-up on the luminary pictured on the front. Also included is a cool little feature where you've got to decode the answer to a question using a piece of red cellophane. (If you look closely at the card back you can just make out some inconspicuous shapes printed in light blue ink, hiding behind the main paragraph.)
So, what inventions did Jules Verne predict in his books?
Well, I happen to have a piece of red cellophane for just such an occasion, so when this card arrived in the mail I went to work.
After placing the cellophane on top of the card I did see something that resembled a hidden image and text, but it was barely coming though. Faded ink over 65+ years? Maybe.
Regardless, it certainly wasn't clear enough to share here on the blog. So the next thing I tried was to place the card face-down, along with the cellophane, into my scanner to see if the digital result was any more legible. Nope. Not much different at all. But then I thought, Hey, wait! Photoshop!
So, after much tinkering with red semi-transparent layers and then some color balancing and contrast adjustments, I was able to produce a decoded version that was good enough to share, although still not the easiest to read.
The answer to the question? (Get ready before you scroll down, it's really bright)
|I wonder if this is where Takara/Hasbro got
the idea for their Transformers decoder
After your eyes adjust, you'll see the answer is submarines, airplanes, and television. (That's a little school of fish underneath the submarine.) It's interesting that you can still just barely see the "Look 'N See" text peeking through the red filter, running across the card just below the school of fish. I don't know. Maybe cellophane paper was better in the 1950s.
Back to the set: There are 135 cards in all, including authors, poets, inventors, explorers, scientists, and more. Trying to complete it, however, is not on my to-do list, mostly because the cost of certain cards outweighs my desire for them (in halfway decent condition, Amelia Earhart, Teddy Roosevelt, Rembrandt, and Babe Ruth cards usually run about $50 apiece).
I'm happy to have a card of the father of science fiction in my collection, though (and in my favorites box), and wouldn't mind picking up a few other cards from the set.
Thanks for reading!
*It turns out I have just over 20,000 cards in my collection, so although this particular card may not have been number 20,000, it is one of 20,000.