Owned by U.S. company Goudey in the 1930s, the Canadian-based World Wide Gum Company issued baseball card sets that often had the same look as the cards produced by their American counterpart. The cards are so similar, in fact, they often confuse collectors.
But while the cards are alike, there are several differences over the years between the two types of cards.
The 240-card 1933 Goudey set is one of the most famous issues of all-time. Known for having four Babe Ruth cards that have steadily risen in value, it can be difficult to complete.
The 1933 World Wide Gum set is much shorter with only 94 cards. There are several differences on the backs in terms of design and font. However, the easiest way to distinguish the two is that the World Wide Gum cards clearly have that company’s name on them and state they were printed in Canada while Goudey issues have the Goudey name.
Some of the World Wide Gum cards also have both English and French writing on the backs. Because of that, some of the bios will differ as the World Wide Gum bios had to be shortened to fit on the backs.
Here, a front of a Babe Ruth card is shown.
The Ruth is No. 144 in Goudey’s set and was double printed.
It is No. 80 in the World Wide Gum issue and next to it are the two different types of backs. The Goudey back is in the middle while the World Wide Gum back is to the right.
The 1934 Goudey set was drastically cut back to only 96 cards and the release utilized a mix of designs. Most cards include a ‘Lou Gehrig Says’ footer at the bottom. However, the high-numbered cards included the footer, ‘Chuck Klein Says.’ Those players then purportedly offered some brief commentary on the back about the player pictured. The two designs are pictured here to the left with cards of Kiki Cuyler and Hank Greenberg. The card of Greenberg is one of the keys to the set as it is his rookie card.
World Wide Gum closely coordinated their set to match the Goudey issue and both had 96 cards. Their cards were particularly tricky because they used both the 1933 design and the 1934 Goudey design. Regardless of design, your best bet to tell them apart is to look for a short phrase at the top on the back that reads, ‘1934 Series.’ That helps distinguish them from the other 1933 sets. A card featuring Rabbit Maranville to show the similarity to the 1933 cards is pictured here.
Another thing to mention is that the World Wide Gum set includes only ‘Lou Gehrig Says’ cards for the high-number cards that followed the 1934 Goudey design. Thus, any ‘Chuck Klein Says’ cards will always be Goudey issues.
A final point that must be included is that, for whatever reason, Ruth was left out of Goudey’s 1934 issue. He does appear, however, in the World Wide Gum set that year.
While World Wide Gum did not issue a 1935 set to oppose Goudey’s 4-in-1 issue, both companies returned to create sets in 1936.
The 1936 Goudey set was significantly different from its previous ones as the cards featured real black and white pictures with their names printed in a cursive font. Just as notably was the size of the checklist. It included a total of only 25 cards, making it one of the easier pre-war issues to tackle. A card from the set featuring Pepper Martin is pictured on the left.
The 1936 World Wide Gum set was also black and white but, in a surprising change, was much larger. The Canadian issue included a whopping 135 cards, more than five times larger than the American set. The design was also significantly different from the Goudey set, too, encapsulating the player’s name in a box. The 1936 World Wide Gum set is mostly known for producing Joe DiMaggio’s major league rookie card, shown here.
While both companies would issue other collectibles such as photo premiums, these three years are the only ones they would each issue card sets at the same time.
You can see World Wide Gum Company baseball cards on eBay here.