When most collectors think about Goudey, their minds are typically drawn to the massive 1933 Goudey set, the smaller follow-up issue released in 1934, or any of their somewhat less popular 1935, 1936, 1938, and 1941 sets. Perhaps the multi-sport 1933 Goudey Sport Kings release comes to mind. Some may also be inclined to think of the World Wide Gum issues out of Canada which were similar.
But in addition to all of their standard baseball cards, the company also issued numerous premiums and other types of baseball collectibles in the 1930s that have become quite popular over the years.
Goudey issued few premiums early on when they were producing standard cards but in 1933 and 1934, they offered two short sets.
One was a baseball-only issue (classified as R309-1) that was available in the mail by redeeming 50 wrappers (see Goudey wrapper below).
The other was for the Sport Kings issue and, true to the card set, was a multi-sport release.
In addition to Babe Ruth, the Sport Kings set included several other popular athletes, such as football legend Red Grange, boxing great Jack Dempsey, golfer Gene Sarazen, tennis star Bill Tilden, and others.
The baseball-only premium set included only Ruth as well as team photos of the New York Giants (issued following the 1933 World Series), and the first American League and National League All-Star teams.
Today, premiums from either set are difficult to come by and ones of Ruth, in particular, are pricey. You can usually find a few on eBay.
Goudey continued a similar offer in 1935, offering more premium photos in exchange for wrappers. This set is listed as R309-2 and included several stars, including Mel Ott, Mickey Cochrane, Hank Greenberg, and several others. These photos were larger but had a similar look to ones issued soon after them — the Wide Pens.
The company’s most popular premiums were issued next with the 1936 Goudey Wide Pen Premiums. Some similar ones that are believed to have been offered in 1937, appear to be World Wide Gum issues. Today, these premiums are cataloged as five different Goudey types. However, some are almost certainly World Wide Gum releases instead. The Wide Pens are among Goudey’s most common non-card issues of the 1930s.
The Wide Pen premiums were smaller photographs of players. They are notable for having the player’s name written in a cursive style font. While these are called Wide Pens, competitor National Chicle issued a different set. Their photos were similar but names and captions were printed with a thinner font. That has led collectors to refer to them as Fine Pens, allowing us to distinguish them from Goudey’s sets.
Among the highlights of the Wide Pens sets are two Joe DiMaggio photos from his rookie year. One is pictured here. As I’ve written before, these are among DiMaggio’s cheaper rookie issues. Wide Pens in general are very inexpensive with commons starting at about $5-$10.
In 1937 and 1938, the company was at it again, offering perhaps their most unique non-card set. In those years, Goudey released sets of flip books. The 1937 books are referred to as ‘Thum Movies’ as that is the name printed on them. In 1938, the books were titled, ‘Big League Movies.’ The books, when thumbed through quickly, displayed a short baseball ‘movie.’
Included in those sets were numerous big names. Combined, books featured players such as Hall of Famers Mel Ott, Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller, Jimmie Foxx, and Ducky Medwick.
Today, both types of the flip book movies are difficult to come by, though some do surface on eBay.
While the company did not produce a standard set of baseball cards in 1939, they did distribute a collection of photographs. Today, Goudey’s 1939 premiums are referred to as R303 issues.
The sets are sometimes called the ‘How To’ set because of the backs. The fronts included a photograph of a player while the back had instructional cartoons for various baseball actions, teaching collectors how to play the game.
In all, there are three different R303 sets. One is a smaller set of brown-ink photos. A second style is larger and has a red tint. The third is also larger and includes black and white images. While these are not exactly baseball cards, they are collected as such and in demand by collectors.
Goudey will always be known for its baseball cards. Those are its more sought after releases and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. But it is important to remember that the company issued plenty of other 1930s baseball products that aren’t considered to be standard trading cards.