They didn’t have instant print-to-order cards 82 years ago, but timeliness wasn’t a foreign concept to sports marketers. A good example would be the 1934 Gold Medal Foods (R313) baseball card set, one I have owned for close to 40 years thanks to a dad who wasn’t afraid to reach out to some old childhood buddies to see if they had any cards from their youth.
It’s believed the cards, which measure about the size of rectangular style postcards (3 ¼” x 5 3/8”), were offered in three sets of four through a mail-in offer on cereal boxes from October through the end of the calendar year. They arrived in a mailing envelope from Gold Medal Foods, which my dad’s old friend had kept them in since he had received them from the company about 45 years earlier. The words “Gold Medal” may have thrown off those who catalogued this set decades earlier when they labeled it as “Gold Medal Flour.” Wheaties certainly would make more sense since the brand was constantly offering sports-related themes on its boxes, even then and would have been the perfect place on which to advertise to men and boys.
The black and white cards with facsimile autographs include five Hall of Famers, including key members of the famed Cardinals “Gas House Gang.” There’s Dizzy and Paul Dean, Pepper Martin, Ducky Medwick, Frank Frisch (The Fordham Flash) and Mickey Cochrane of the Tigers, among others.
These remain fairly inexpensive despite their relative scarcity, although higher graded cards can command a nice premium. You can usually find some singles and even a set or two on eBay (see them here).
The set my dad picked up was virtually pristine. Unfortunately, there were no postcard-sized album pages or toploaders back in the mid-to-late 1970s and I stored my 1934 Gold Medal Foods set in one of the old photo albums that had a backing designed to hold photos in place. Years later, I rediscovered them only to find the cards adhered themselves a bit to the pages. I was able to pull them out successfully but the backs suffered a little from the unfortunate choice of storage.
Thankfully, the memories are still in mint condition.