For the most part, the 1930s gum cards are known for their virtually square shape and thicker cardboard. That was a drastic change from the early candy/caramel cards which were often smaller and/or printed on thinner stock. But the 1930s included all sorts of different designs and here’s a look at some of the more unique issues.
1934 Al Demaree Die Cuts (R304)
These die-cuts were actually designed by former major league pitcher, Al Demaree. After a career in baseball, Demaree turned to drawing to help earn a living. He produced artwork for a few sets, including this one.
He created these die-cut cards, which were used as part of some sort of a game. The massive issue included about 170 cards but are somewhat difficult to track down. You can usually find some on eBay.
1930 Baguer Chocolate
I’ve mentioned this set before and it certainly fits in here when you’re talking about oddly-shaped cards of the 1930s. Produced in 1930, this international set was offered in Cuba.
Sure, they do have the traditional four-sided shape that we typically see on trading cards but you might have a difficult time spotting them in person. They aren’t particularly rare but what they are is small. Measuring less than 1″ in length on each side, they are among the smallest ‘cards’ around. Still, as the set includes many big names such as Babe Ruth, it remains desirable. There was even a crude album created to put them in.
1934-36 Batter Up (R318)
You could say R318s were probably among the earlier “3D sets” released. The cards were some what of a die-cut as they ‘popped out’ from against a flat background.
Kids must have had a field day with these cards because today, you will often find the player portion detached completely from the rest of the card. All are not found in poor condition but a good number of them are.
It’s a set that sort of kicked off the post-Babe Ruth era of trading cards and there are a number of great names on the checklist, many of which are relatively affordable.
1933 Butter Cream (R306)
This rare issue from Butter Cream Confectionery looks more like a bookmark than an actual trading card. Thin and narrow, the cards measure about 1 1/4″ wide by about 3 5/8″ tall.
The cards were tied to some sort of contest as the backs indicated collectors should guess how a player would fare statistically and then mail it in with their name and address printed, presumably for some sort of prize.
Expect to pay several hundred dollars for some of the Hall of Famers, even in lower grades. There’s a Babe Ruth that even the most advanced collectors don’t have.
1930s Photo Premiums
In the 1930s, a popular attraction in the hobby emerged in the form of the photo premium. Premiums had existed in other forms previously. For example, collectors could redeem coupons for collectable albums in the 1800s. But while photos had been issued as premiums before, they really took off in the 1930s, thanks to gum companies like Goudey and National Chicle.
Most pre-war collectors know about the popular fine pen and wide pen photos, but there were others, too. In 1934-36, Batter Up offered a premium set of photos. Butterfinger did the same in 1934. Goudey offered a few other sets, in addition to their wide pens. Photo premiums seemed almost as plentiful as cards themselves.
The sizes varied, too. Some were about the size of a postcard but others, like the Butterfinger photos, were about 8″ x 10″ in size.
1930s Whiz Bang Discs
The Whiz Bang Gum discs get the award for perhaps the oddest shape of the decade. These circular cards had tabs sticking out of four parts. The set included a mix of sports and non-sports personalities but the three baseball players (Hall of Famers Lefty Grove, Gabby Hartnett, and Goose Goslin) are typically the focal point.
The cards had been relatively hidden from the public but a large find was made in 2009. They were reportedly given away to children as part of a redemption for a white piece of gum in packages of products. Most of the gum in packages was not white and instead other colors.