In 1933, the World Wide Gum Company partnered with Goudey Gum to bring baseball bubble gum cards to Canada. The 1933 issue was similar, but slightly different from its American cousin. That trend continued in 1934 but with a few more differences than in the previous year. The 1934 World Wide Gum baseball card set wouldn’t be their last set but would be their last color issue.
1934 World Wide Gum Basics
The 1934 World Wide Gum cards followed the same basic idea as the 1933 set. Essentially, they shared various features of the American Goudey parallel set. World Wide Gum, a Goudey company operating in Canada, was the distributor of the cards just as they were in the previous year. Both sets shared images but the 1934 World Wide Gum set was unique in that it used artwork from both the 1933 and 1934 Goudey sets. For that reason, the World Wide Gum set has two separate designs, including one that was recycled from the previous year.
Cards printed from No. 1 to No. 48 had the 1933 design while cards numbered from No. 49 to No. 96 utilized the latest 1934 design.
The cards remained 2 3/8″ x 2 7/8″ but with the separate designs, it is easy to confuse those 1934 with the 1933 designs as cards from 1933. Fronts included color pictures of players. The 1933 design featured a player image taking up most of the space on the front. The 1934 designs, however, were distinct with a ‘Lou Gehrig Says’ caption. Backs of those cards carried what were supposedly quotes from the Yankee slugger about fellow players.
It was again the backs that helped collectors differentiate between the World Wide Gum and Goudey issues. 1934 World Wide Gum backs carried the company name and indicated they were indeed printed in Canada as opposed to Goudey’s Boston base. The ‘Big League’ printing at the bottoms on the backs also was not as thick as it was on the Goudey cards.
Another difference is that the 1934 World Wide Gum cards were printed both in English and French whereas the Goudey cards were only in English. This was a slight change from the previous year. In 1933, some of the World Wide Gum cards were bilingual. Many, however, were not. In 1934, there was consistency added with both languages being printed on all of the cards.
One thing that changed from the previous year was the number of cards in the World Wide Gum release as compared to the Goudey set. In 1933, the 94 cards offered in the World Wide Gum set was a fraction of the 240 cards in the American Goudey issue. But in 1934, both sets had a total of 96 cards. The players included and card numbers that corresponded didn’t match in the two checklists but they both at least had the exact same number of cards. That had to please Canadian collectors who probably felt shorted from the previous year with a set not even half as large as the American set.
And unlike the previous year when the World Wide Gum set was significantly short on big names compared to the 1933 Goudey release, in 1934 they offered something not seen in the American set.
Ruth was conspicuously absent in Goudey’s 1934 set. At 39, the Hall of Famer was nearing the end of his major league career. You wouldn’t know it simply by looking at his statistics, though. Ruth was still feared as a slugger as evident by the league leading 114 walks he drew in 1933. Also in that season, he still slugged 34 home runs and batted .301. There’s no doubt that Ruth was on the decline, of course, but he was still a very capable superstar. His absence in the Goudey set is somewhat of a mystery for that reason. Thickening the plot is that Goudey very clearly tried to make Gehrig the focal point. He had two cards in the set as well as the ‘Lou Gehrig Says’ captions on several cards.
But while Ruth was missing from the Goudey set, he was placed into World Wide Gum’s 1934 set. That alone continues to give collectors an added reason to focus on that issue. The 1934 World Wide Gum Ruth uses the same design of the #53 card in the ’33 Goudey set. The only difference is the back. Still, his inclusion was more than a welcome addition. That is especially true since the World Wide Gum set has only one Gehrig card as opposed to Goudey, which featured the Iron Horse twice.
Scarcity Compared to ’34 Goudey
A look at grading company population reports shows the 1934 World Wide Gum set to be roughly 20 times rarer than the ’34 Goudey…and that estimate may be on the conservative side. There are a measly 34 non-qualified PSA 8 or 9 1934 World Wide Gum cards so hopes of attaining a high-grade set are virtually nil unless a long-forgotten stash would somehow be uncovered.
1934 World Wide Gum Prices
Despite being much rarer, the 1934 World Wide Gum cards generally sell for a little less than the Goudey counterparts.
Mid-grade commons start in the $20-$30 range on eBay. Gehrig’s card is heavily desired but Ruth again has top billing as the most expensive card in the set. A PSA 4 sold for $3,000 a few years ago at auction. Because the card is rare, however, prices are somewhat volatile. That same year, the same grade fetched nearly $4,500 at auction while a few years earlier, it sold for only about $1,800.