It was less than four years after the infamous Black Tuesday stock market crash and the United States was deep in the throes of a Great Depression that brought 24.9% unemployment and a collapse of the American economy. Families were torn apart and scattered to better confront an uncertain future, while struggling businesses looked for any way to survive. Baseball was the common bond that gave hope to a nation in despair, led by its immortal goodwill ambassador, Mr. George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Capitalizing on a campaign made famous by the tobacco industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, bubble gum and candy companies revived the practice of offering collector cards with a purchase of their product. Several companies made the leap into the baseball card market, but the Goudey Gum Company’s 240-card collection hails as the greatest baseball card series ever produced!
Baseball cards are back!
Boston, Massachusetts became ground-zero for the new renaissance in the baseball card industry as DeLong, George C. Miller, Goudey, U. S. Caramel, and National Chicle, located a few miles down the road in Cambridge, each offered the opportunity to build a collection through the purchase of their product. While each of these collections has earned a loyal following that continues to this day, the Goudey series hails as the king of all collections due to a simple but unique philosophy: offer colorful pasteboards with fantastic artwork and easy to read biographies on thick, sturdy cardboard. Oh … and pack in a whole bunch of Babe Ruth cards!
There’s a certain poetic element to Babe Ruth leading a Boston-based company back from extinction given his unceremonious departure by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee for the tawdry sum of $100,000. However, the Goudey collection offers much more than just “The Sultan of Swat.” Of the 240 cards in the set, 63 feature a Hall of Famer with multiple appearances by Gehrig, Hornsby, Ott, Hubbell, Foxx, and many others in addition to a quartet of Babe Ruth cards, each with its own distinct character.
“I Only Need One More Card!”
For an inaugural collection, the 1933 Goudey set initially appeared to have no “drama” other than a change to card #6 Jimmy Dykes, who was originally listed as 26 years old and later corrected to 36 years old. That is until collectors began to sense a common theme; they were all one card away from completing the set… and it was always the same card! While U.S. Caramel and George C. Miller had implemented a similar technique of short-printing one card so severely that only a few lucky patrons could complete the set, Goudey took the concept a step further by totally omitting card #106 completely, keeping customers buying their product in a futile search for the non-existent pasteboard. But it didn’t take long for Goudey’s subterfuge to be discovered and the missing card #106 was printed in the final run of the following year, explaining why it bears the design of Goudey’s 1934 product. It is unknown why Napoleon Lajoie, a star that had been retired for over 15 years, was made the subject of the missing pasteboard, but with the card produced in limited quantity and available only by mail to collectors that formally complained in writing, the “1933” Goudey #106 Lajoie ranks with the T206 Honus Wagner and the T206 Ty Cobb with “Ty Cobb” reverse as the most coveted rarities in sports card history.
1933 Goudey Break-Up: Mile High Card Company March 2015 Auction
The #9 PSA Set Registry ranked 1933 Goudey Set is being offered as individual lots and groups in our March 2015 action, with all four Babe Ruth cards (#53 PSA 7, #144 PSA 8, #149 PSA 7 and #181 PSA 8) along with the iconic #106 Lajoie (PSA 6) leading the way. Lou Gehrig’s difficult card #92 as well as examples of Dean, Hornsby, Hubbell, Grove, Dickey, Traynor, Simmons, Ott and many others are available at the grade of PSA 8. If NM/MT is more than you need, you’ll have the opportunity to bid on a huge selection of cards graded PSA 6 and PSA 7 as well, along with enticing mid-grade groups. The auction opens for bidding on March 2nd and concludes on March 19th.