The 1935 Goudey set is known to collectors for any number of reasons. Babe Ruth is by far the biggest draw of the small (or large, depending on how you look at it) release. The Ruth card is also special because it is one of the few that features him as a member of the Boston Braves. It is the same picture used on one of his 1933 Goudey cards as a member of the Yankees but the 1935 card has his new team name printed on it.
Of course, the ’35 Goudey set is unique in that it features four players on each card, a radically different design than what the company offered with their more popular 1933 and 1934 sets.
But there’s much more to the unique set than the Sultan of Swat. Here are five reasons that make this issue so collectable.
If you’re a fan of unique, pre-war sets, dare I say that this set is for you. The cards have several distinctive characteristics about them. But a big draw to many collectors are the various puzzle/card combinations. While there are only 36 different fronts in the set, there are a total of 114 total cards if you count the various puzzle combinations. In all, there are a total of nine different puzzles that can be formed, including both individual players and teams. Finding all of them makes for a sizable challenge.
What I love about these cards is that they not only feature four different players, but many include more than one big name, including two or three Hall of Famers. Two Hall of Famers for the price of one? How can you beat that? Some cards (like one featuring Yankees legends Bill Dickey, Tony Lazzeri, and Red Ruffing) even have three players featured that were inducted into Cooperstown.
And as a whole, even beyond the fact that there are numerous cards with two Hall of Famers, there are a lot of great players included in the set in general. Aside from Ruth, collectors will find many of the great players from that era. Other big names in the issue include Mel Ott, Mickey Cochrane, Hank Greenberg, Jimmie Foxx, and Dizzy Dean.
One little-known fact among non-collectors of the set is that is mostly a team issue. There are a few exceptions but the bulk of the cards in the set feature four players all from the same team. For example, the Ruth card includes Braves teammates Rabbit Maranville, Ed Brandt and Marty McManus (although McManus would never actually play with Ruth, having signed as player/manager of the St. Paul Saints in December of ’34). There are some great combos including one card with Yankee Hall of Famers Bill Dickey, Tony Lazzeri andRed Ruffing, a Cardinals card with Dizzy Dean and Frankie Frisch and the White Sox card with Luke Appling, Luke Sewell, George Earnshaw and Jimmie Dykes.
Even if you’re not a set collector, the set is still a desirable option if you strictly enjoy collecting players from your favorite team. The fact that these weren’t simply cards with four random players is yet another enjoyable bonus of the set.
4. Customizable Set / Ease of Completion
The puzzles make completing a full master set a challenging proposition. But one of the reasons the set works is that it can be collected by novice vintage collectors, too. Don’t want to invest the time putting together a 114-card set? Go for the basic edition, which has only 36. Ruth’s card will set you back at least several hundred dollars but aside from that most of it is pretty affordable. As a whole, commons in decent shape start around $30. If even the 36-card set is a stretch, focus on building team sets. That’s easy to do since most only require a few cards for each.
While many collectors will deride the fact that Goudey reused images from their past sets to create these cards, to me that’s one of the great things about it. Sure, the pictures on the cards are recycled, but the images on the 1935 Goudey cards are iconic. Plus, taking trips back to the past is still something that card companies are doing to this day.
In addition, recycling images of players was also something that was done on plenty of early candy and tobacco issues. It may be disappointing to some collectors but I’ve got no real issue with how the company used pictures from its earlier releases in the assembling of the 1935 Goudey set, a compelling issue from an iconic and important purveyor of bubble gum cards.
There are usually dozens of 1935 Goudey cards available on eBay. Click here to see them for sale and auction.