Sports Collectors Daily

1933 Goudey R309-1 Premium Set an Historic Gem

In their day, the 1933-34 Goudey R309-1 Premiums were the equivalent of a high dollar redemption card.  Printed on heavy cardboard with an ornate gold border resembling a picture frame and measuring 5 ½’ wide by 8 3/16” high, they were a reward to Goudey’s most avid young customers.  A fold-out easel on the back meant any youngster could proudly display his treasure on a dresser or desk once it arrived in the giant envelope direct from Goudey’s Boston headquarters.  Today, they help capture a snapshot of baseball’s biggest stories more than 80 years ago.

1933 Goudey “Pictures” Offer

The R309-1 Premiums were free but you had to invest a serious stack of pennies to get them or be able to convince your collecting friends to surrender their wrappers.  It took 50 wrappers to acquire just one. The back of Goudey’s regular set wrappers carried the offer.  Collectors could choose one of four “big league stars”, a curious choice of words since three of the four premiums were actually team photos.

The checklist opened with a familiar black and white image of Babe Ruth. His career had begun to wind down, but Ruth was still a mega star, fresh from leading the Yankees past the Cubs in the 1932 World Series, which included his “called shot” home run.

The photo is the same one used for one of the four Ruth cards in Goudey’s regular 1933 set, #144.

1933 Goudey R309-1 set (photo from Robert Edward Auctions)

First All-Star Teams, Champion Giants Featured in R309-1

Two of the cards in the set featured the first American and National League All-Star teams, photographed prior to the historic inaugural clash at Comiskey Park in the summer of ’33.  Big league stars indeed.  The photos capture more than a dozen players who were later elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame including The Babe, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx.

The fourth photo offered was a picture of the 1933 World Series champs. Goudey extended its offer into 1934 for this one but according to Goudey’s 1933 wrappers, you could have also ordered it during the 1933 calendar year and waited, not knowing which team you’d be receiving until after the World Series.

1933 Goudey R309-1 Value

Complete R309-1 sets don’t come to auction that often but are generally $1,500-$2,5,000 depending on grade.

Goldin Auctions recently offered a super scarce advertising sign that would have been placed near packs of Goudey cards sometime in the late summer and early fall of 1933. It sold for just over $1,300.

1933 Goudey Premium advertising sign (photo from Goldin Auctions).

The R309-1 Premiums are fraught with condition issues. Their size made damage during shipment and delivery a strong possibility.  The gold edges are prone to showing wear from handling.  The easels were often removed or worn.  Some youngsters chose to write their names on the back.

While the Ruth is the most expensive of the four cards, the R309-1 Premium is among his more affordable cards. Despite being available in much lower quantities than his standard issue cards from 1933, it’s usually less expensive, often found on eBay for under $1,000.

The New York Giants World Series Champs premium is the next most valuable and easily the most rare of the four cards.  While prices vary depending on grade, the Giants card can be found for around $400 in very respectable shape.

The two All-Star team cards cost a little less but are unique and important.  They represent one of the few times that pre-War cards featured images of actual historic moments and seem undervalued at prices starting at a few hundred dollars.

You can see several 1933-34 Goudey R309-1 premiums for sale on eBay here.