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Decks By The Decade - 1940's

The 1940’s for the hobby was an intriguing time. Due to World War 2 starting in 1942, there were restrictions on ink, cardboard, and other essentials for baseball cards to be produced. Because of this, very few sets were printed. Once the restrictions were lifted, two famous sets popped up.

1948-1949 Leaf: Even though the sets copyright was for 1948, Leaf Gum cards weren’t actually released until early the following year. Because of this copyright loophole, these cards hold more value than its competition which will be mentioned momentarily. This set featured 98 cards; 49 base cards and 49 short prints. To entice more purchases, on the backs of these cards you’ll see if you sent in ten gum wrappers, Leaf would send you one of eight black and white cards of retired players. The set featured many future greats like Larry Doby, Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio, and Warren Spahn. The pinnacle cards of this set are Bob Feller (SP), and Babe Ruth but there are two cards that stand out from the pack; Satchel Paige (RC) and Jackie Robinson (RC).

Jackie Robinson, as many know, broke the color barrier in the MLB in 1947. Before this, players of color were not allowed to play in the majors. Robinson promptly won Rookie of the Year, and in the following year his rookie card was produced. Because of the vivid colors on this card and the quality of the printing machines, it’s difficult to find this card in great condition. A PSA9 recently sold for $336,000

Satchel Paige was a career Negro Leagues pitcher and didn’t break into the Majors until the following year of Jackie Robinson’s debut. At that time, Paige just turned 42, but his dominance was just beginning. In his rookie season, he went 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA. One of the cooler moments in baseball was when he was called on in relief in 1965 after retirement in 1953. At that point, the 58 year hadn’t pitched in 12 years, but he came in a pitched three scoreless innings only allowing one hit. His 1948 Leaf rookie card PSA8 recently sold for $432,000.

1949 Bowman: This set featured 240 cards with a lot of variations throughout. Some of the variations featured no names on the front, different shades of colors, or a different style of font. This set featured all of the players mentioned before in the Leaf set, but contained other players like Duke Snider and Roy Campanella.

What made the Leaf set more valuable in certain cards were that it was licensed in 1948, so the Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige Cards “technically” aren’t their first cards. Don’t let that faze you about this set. It still holds a tremendous amount of value. For comparison of the Leaf set PSA9 of Jackie Robinson of this set fetched $55,000 recently. Satchel Paige’s card at a PSA9 sold for $33,600

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