When most collectors think of 1930s baseball cards, thoughts of the popular Goudey sets or others, such as Diamond Stars or DeLong, might come to mind. But the decade also included some very rare sets and one of those is the 1933 Butter Cream Confectionery release. Here’s a little more on this unique issue.
About the 1933 Butter Cream Confectionery Set
In 1933, the Butter Cream Confectionery Corporation of New Jersey issued a small 30-card set of baseball cards. The cards were actually part of a unique promotion that required fans to make some future predictions.
The cards, all around, are unique. Fronts feature black and white images of players but without names. The shape of the cards is also quite distinctive. Measuring only 1 1/4″ wide by 3 5/8″ tall, the cards are narrow and almost have the appearance of a small type of bookmark.
Backs of the cards included information about Butter Cream’s specific promotion. In short, collectors were required to guess how well a player would perform offensively. Fans were to guess what the player’s batting average would be in that season up until either September 1 or October 1 (the backs include one of two potential dates). As a bit of a reference point, also on the backs was the player’s name and his previous batting average from 1932. That 1932 reference, coincidentally, helps us to date this set to what is likely a 1933 issue.
Collectors were then supposed to mail in the completed card with their name and address, sending them to Butter Cream at their Union City, New Jersey address on the back. It is unclear if the cards were returned to collectors or simply destroyed.
The contest remained the same even for pitchers found in the set. While they would have more relevant statistics such as win total, ERA, or strikeouts, the statistic listed for them was also batting average, just as it was for position players.
The set is cataloged as R306 in the American Card Catalog.
1933 Butter Cream Confectionery Checklist
What the 1933 Butter Cream Confectionery set lacks in size it makes up for in quality. The set, as mentioned, contains only 30 cards. However, the checklist is packed full of stars and that only increases the demand for it.
Leading the way in the set is the legendary Babe Ruth. Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, and Al Simmons are also joined by a host of other Cooperstown inductees. The set doesn’t have every single star from the period, mind you. A notable omission, of course, is Lou Gehrig. Others that are missing include Dizzy Dean and Rogers Hornsby. And given that the contest was surrounding batting average, the omissions of Gehrig and Hornsby are even more notable. Hornsby’s career was winding down by this point but he still batted .326 in 1933. Gehrig was also one of the most feared hitters in the league and his .349 average in 1932 was third best.
Despite those omissions, the set still includes quite a few big names. In all, more than half of the set is made up of players in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Here’s the complete checklist for the set:
- Earl Averill
- Ed Brandt
- Guy Bush
- Mickey Cochrane
- Joe Cronin
- George Earnshaw
- Wes Ferrell
- Jimmie Foxx
- Frankie Frisch
- Charles Gelbert
- Lefty Grove
- Gabby Hartnett
- Babe Herman
- Chuck Klein
- Ray Kremer
- Fred Lindstrom
- Ted Lyons
- Pepper Martin
- Bob O’Farrell
- Ed Rommel
- Charley Root
- Muddy Ruel
- Babe Ruth
- Al Simmons
- Bill Terry
- George Uhle
- Lloyd Waner
- Paul Waner
- Hack Wilson
- Glenn Wright
1933 Butter Cream Confectionery Rarity and Pricing
Simply put, the cards are quite rare.
Population reports give us a nice snapshot of how difficult the cards are to find. PSA, SGC, and Beckett have combined to grade fewer than 550 of these cards in all. Because collectors were required to send these cards in to the company, that seems to help explain their rarity.
The rarity of these cards as well as the popularity of the 1930s gum/candy issues helps these cards retain quite a bit of value. Even modestly graded commons in the set generally start around $150. Hall of Famers usually start higher, obviously, depending on the player and exact condition. The Ruth card is, of course, the key to the set and is exponentially more valuable.
A PSA 5 example of the Ruth sold in a 2019 Heritage auction, fetching a whopping $192,000.
A few cards from the set can usually be found on eBay.