World Wide Gum issues from Canada closely mirrored their American Goudey counterparts throughout the 1930s. In addition to the smaller trading cards in the earlier 1930s, another example of that is found in the 1939 World Wide Gum and 1939 Goudey sets – small photos that were distributed by the respective companies. Here’s a closer look at the World Wide Gum issue from our neighbors up north.
1939 World Wide Gum Photos (V351) Basics
In 1939, World Wide Gum switched things up, trading in its baseball cards for a set of collectible photos. The set is cataloged as V351 in the American Card Catalog. The photos mirrored the 1939 Goudey set (cataloged as R303A) produced in the United States. Two other R303 issues (R303B and R303C) exist as well, but the 1939 World Wide Gum issue is closest to R303A.
Fronts featured a picture of the player and his replica signature while cartoons and baseball tips occupied the backs. The same can be said of the R303A Goudey release but there are some differences between the two sets.
First, at 4″ wide x 5 5/8″ tall, the 1939 World Wide Gum issue is smaller than the R303A series, which is more than 6″ tall. In addition, the checklists are different. While there are only 25 photos in the World Wide Gum set, R303A has nearly twice as many with 48. The easiest way, however, to tell the two sets apart is by the back. The World Wide Gum photos state that are lithographed in Canada at the bottom while the Goudey issues have the Goudey name.
Checklist … and a Key Rookie
The checklist, as stated, is a short one. But even with only 25 in the set, there are still plenty of reasons to pursue it.
The two keys here are easily Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. Williams’ inclusion is particularly exciting since this is a legitimate rookie issue of his. While his 1939 Play Ball card gets much more recognition, his 1939 World Wide Gum and R303 Goudey issues are also true rookie pieces as well.
In addition, of the three issues, Williams’ 1939 World Wide Gum is easily the rarest. Hype will undoubtedly continue to surround his Play Ball rookie but, make no mistake, his World Wide Gum is significantly more difficult to find.
Beyond that impressive pair, collectors will also find Hall of Famers Dizzy Dean and Charlie Gehringer here, as well as six-time World Series champion and two-time All-Star Frank Crosetti.
Rarity and Prices
As is the case with other World Wide Gum issues, they are significantly rarer than the Goudey issues. It is much harder to find the 1939 World Wide Gum photos than it is the American Goudey issues. Typically, there aren’t more than a few on eBay at any given time, if that.
Still, as a relatively tough issue, prices aren’t through the roof on these. Decent commons typically sell in the $25-$50, depending on condition but can sell for more as set collectors needing these rare issues can get a little desperate. The Williams is the king of the set and, in 2015, an SGC 60 sold for just over $4,000.