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Decks by the Decade - 1930's

The 1930’s saw the introduction of one of the most famous and valuable sets in the hobby: Goudey Baseball. Before diving into this iconic set, there are a couple of cards that need to be mentioned.

1939 Play Ball: This set was a crucial set in the hobby. These cards became bigger than its competitors, closer to the size we know today. They featured detailed player biographies on the backs of the cards as well. The most important aspect of this set was that the business that created these gum packs, Gum Inc, would go on to become the Bowman’s that we know today. Gum Inc. was founded by a fellow named Walter Bowman. In 1939, there were no available gum pack baseball cards. These were typically 1-3 cards with a stick of gum inside of them. Bowman seized this opportunity and created this black and white set. While the set isn’t flush with all stars, you will find Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams (rookie card) in here. Recently, a PSA 9 of Williams fetched $130,000.

1932 U.S. Caramel: While this set was a small one (32 baseball players), it is rife with Hall Of Famers. I’m a fan of these cards thanks to its vivid red background and white border. Given its limited distribution to the Boston area, these cards are difficult to find. The one to go after is Babe Ruth in this set, with an estimated PSA9 value of $300,000.

1933 Goudey Baseball: The Goudey Gum Company planted its roots in 1919 in Boston. Enos Goudey’s company quickly gained popularity which led to Enos being crowned “the penny gum King of America”. In 1933, he decided to venture into the baseball card arena and produced one of the most famous sets. The cards featured many different colored backgrounds with the tag line “Big League Chewing Gum” on the bottom front a the first runs of the set. The backs featured a small, green text, biography of the player with more advertisements for the gum on the back. This set was also almost free of any errors, with #6 in the set Jimmy Dykes had the wrong age.

What made this 1933 set so valuable is that there are four separate Babe Ruth cards in the set. The most difficult to find is #53, otherwise known as the Yellow Ruth. This card features Ruth post swing and his full name George Herman (Babe) Ruth on the front. While it’s not the most valuable card, one PSA 8 recently sold for $168,000.

One of the more rare cards of the 1930’s came out of this set as well. The long retired Napoleon Lajoie, considered at the time the best second basemen ever, was a part of this set. However, you couldn’t just pull this out of a gum pack. In order to get this card, collectors had to wait until 1934 to send a mail in request to get this card. Thes

e cards were mailed to the collectors which was attached with a paper clip leaving an impression on most. A PSA 9 of this card recently sold for $192,000.

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