The 1930s gum cards represent good bargains for collectors. Some cards, like Babe Ruth’s 1933 Goudey issues, aren’t exactly affordable for many. But the decade holds plenty of other opportunities for solid buys.
Here are some bargains that can be found from the early days of the gum card.
Hank Greenberg 1936 Goudey
Greenberg’s cards, in general, are good bargains, in my opinion. Due to missing several seasons from World War II, Greenberg (like many players in his era) didn’t post the career numbers he would have otherwise. But it’s still clear he was a major star.
Greenberg led the league in home runs in four of his 13 major league seasons and that included a whopping 58 in 1927. Beyond that, he was an excellent overall hitter — something that is not true of every power hitter. Greenberg was a career .313 hitter and obviously one of the top players of his time.
His 1936 Goudey card is an exceptional value. Not only is it a legit Goudey issue, it’s also one that was produced early in his career. Mid-grade copies can be found on eBay starting at under $100. Even better is that it’s the key to what is Goudey’s easiest set to complete. Once you get Greenberg out of the way, the rest of the set is a pretty simple lift.
1939 Play Ball Sample Cards
The sample cards from the 1939 Play Ball set have commonly gone under the radar.
These cards were issued as salesman samples. They are the same as regular Play Ball cards but have a red stamp on the back to help promote the set.
While the cards are much rarer than the regular Play Ball cards, they actually don’t sell for much more money. Today, you can get decent commons for as little as $25 or so.
PSA has graded more than 21,000 cards from the 1939 Play Ball set but only a handful, at most, of the sample cards for most players. That speaks to their rarity and given that they are a much tougher find than the regular cards, they are a definite bargain in my book.
1936 Goudey Wide Pens Joe DiMaggio/Joe McCarthy
I’ve touted the merits of this card before as it is one of Joe DiMaggio’s many rookie issues. These aren’t exactly ‘cards’ as they are small photographs instead. But, given a designation in the American Card Catalog as R314, they are essentially treated like cards by collectors.
DiMaggio’s photo pictures him as a rookie with Hall of Fame manager Joe McCarthy. You actually get two Hall of Famers for the price of one here. But the real attraction, of course, is that it is a legitimate rookie issue of DiMaggio.
You can pay five figures for his 1936 World Wide Gum card or you can sometimes find this one starting at only about $200-$250.
1935 Goudey Hall of Famers
If one were so inclined, they could list the entire 1935 Goudey set here.
Goudey’s 1935 issue was different from others in that it included four players to a card. While that meant for a less attractive design, these are still pre-war cards distributed by the most popular gum card company.
Many cards include more than one Hall of Famer and a few even have three of them. Babe Ruth’s card is one of his most affordable gum issues and is a considerable bargain. But others can be declared as bargains here with all of the other cards in the set starting at under $100.
Also of note is that the cards are much rarer than the 1933 or 1934 Goudey sets. Given the numerous stars and the relatively small number of cards out there, the Hall of Famers from the 1935 Goudey set look like a considerable bargain.
Jimmy Dykes 1933 Goudey
Wait — what’s a common card of a relatively modest player doing on this list?
Jimmy Dykes’ 1933 Goudey cards would go unnoticed by most. But they are among the many quirks found in the 1933 Goudey set, which is one of the most popular of all time.
240 cards are generally cited as being found in the set. But in actuality, there are 241. That’s because Dykes has both an error and a correction in the set. Dykes’ error card states his age as 26 but his corrected card has his real age of 36.
The cards are barely a footnote for most. But as the only error and correction found in one of the hobby’s most important sets, it’s a unique distinction worthy of recognition. Neither card seems drastically rarer than the other and both are affordable. Priced as commons in the set, the pair represent one of the cooler, less expensive gum card finds out there.