Goudey Gum Company sailed across the pre-World War II landscape with a busy run that included standard issue baseball cards, premiums and some non-sport sets. The 1941 Goudey Baseball set would mark the end of a relatively brief but impactful run.
The Boston-based firm got off to a huge start with its ultra-popular 1933 set that featured four Babe Ruth cards. The ’34 issue was smaller in number and boasted spokesman Lou Gehrig–but no Ruth. What followed were some quirky and far less popular issues that lasted through 1938 when the ‘Heads Up’ set picked up where the ’33 set left off, including some Hall of Famers, most notably the early cards of Joe DiMaggio and Bob Feller.
Goudey stepped aside in 1939 and ’40 but hung on until 1941, when it produced a 2 3/8″ by 2 7/8″ size baseball set that was far less attractive than its popular cousins. It included 33 cards and despite not having the broad appeal of the 1930s issues, ’41 Goudey (R324) is much harder to find in higher grade.
With World War II on the horizon, Goudey now had company in the form of Gum Inc., which produced the much more aesthetically pleasing Play Ball set featuring DiMaggio and Ted Williams–a fact that wasn’t lost on young collectors or those interested in vintage sets today. There was also the 1941 Double Play set issued by ‘Gum Products’.
Many of the players in the blank-backed 1941 Goudey set are barely footnotes in baseball history, but the set curiously does include Carl Hubbell and Mel Ott, the latter owning distinction of being the last card in a vintage Goudey issue. The Hubbell and Ott cards can cost collectors several hundred dollars each, even in mid-grade condition.
There are five somewhat hard to find single prints which will cost almost as much when they’re actually available: Harold Warstler, Joe Sullivan, Babe Young, Stanley Andrews and Morris Arnovich.
Lack of popularity aside, 1941 Goudey cards maybe more scarce than many realize, especially higher grade examples. PSA has graded only 1,047 cards in all with no 10s or 9s and just 24 8s on the Population Report. The cards are often miscut in addition to suffering the usual wear found on cards from decades ago, leaving few higher grade sets. The fifth best set on the PSA Set Registry, with an average grade of 3.87, sold via Legendary Auctions for $9,756 in February of 2014.
Each of the 33 players in the set can be found with any one of four background colors: blue, greeen, red or yellow. Completing a “master set” of 132 is a tall task and most all collectors consider the set complete at 33, regardless of background.
Only a few dozen 1941 Goudey cards are currently on eBay, attesting to the set’s scarcity.