1933 Goudey Baseball Card Set Guide
1933 Goudey Set Review: Loaded with Star Power and Hall of Famers
The 1933 Goudey baseball card set completely changed the game. As America entered the Great Depression in 1929, cards were not on a lot of people'd minds. The few sets that did come out were produced on cheap paper and printed in black and white. In 1933 the Goudey Gum Company took a gamble. They printed a set of 240 cards with incredible images and vibrant color. The set became in instant classic, and has long been a favorite of collectors. In fact, it is one of the most popular sets ever produced. The set's popularity stems from 2 main factors: the card's visual aesthetics and the major star power included.
1933 Goudey Set Product Details
The 1933 Goudey set (also noted as R319 by the American Card Catalog) is especially important since it was the first issue which included a stick of gum with every pack of cards. This paved the way for Bowman and Topps to follow their marketing path. The set includes 240 cards (239 in 1933 and 1 in 1934; this will be discussed more later), each measuring 2-3/8" by 2-7/8". The size may appear small by the Topps and Bowman's standards, but this was actually larger than most of the time. The majority contain a banner at the bottom stating " Big League Chewing Gum". Each card front contains a dramatic pose of the player and a pop of bright color in the background. The backs of the card state the players name, team, card number, and a brief description of their accolades (all in green font).
Babe Ruth 1933 Goudey Cards
Another big driver in the popularity of the 1933 set is the inclusion of the biggest baseball superstar of all time: Babe Ruth. Goudey decided why stop at one card of the Babe? They ended up putting out 4 different Ruth cards! The four Ruth cards are number 53 (yellow background), 144 (full batting pose), 149 (red background), and 181 (green background). It is interesting to note that the same image was used for 53, 144, and 149. Card 144 is a double print and is the most produced Ruth card of the 4. A very low grade Goudey Ruth will around around $5,000 dollars, with high grade examples fetching close to a million dollars.
Nap Lajoie Goudey Card
The Nap Lajoie card #106 is one that frustrated children trying to complete the set in 1933. No matter how many packs they opened Lajoie was no where to be found. And this was all planned by Goudey. The card was never actually printed! It was determined that this was done intentionally by the company, a marketing ploy to keep kids buying more packs and boosting sales. Many parents wrote to Goudey on behalf of their upset children and the company made good on the requests. They printed the missing card in 1934 (as part of the next years set) and mailed them to anyone asking for the card. Interestingly, the card seemed to be mailed with a paperclip holding it in place, as a fair amount have paperclip damage. Apparently not many people took Goudey up on the offer; PSA and SGC have only graded ~140 copies combined. Lower grade examples regularly sell for $20,000 to $30,000, while high grade examples can fetch hundreds of thousands.
Another interesting fact about the Lajoie card is there is a connection to Ruth. As previously mentioned, card #144 was double printed. A discovery of an uncut sheet proved that a second card #144 was printed in the place where card #106 would have been.
Lou Gehrig 1933 Goudey Cards
Ruth's teammate Lou Gehrig is also featured in the set. Goudey included 2 cards of Lou in the set, although it is difficult to tell at first glance. Gehrig is featured on card #92 and #160, and the same image is used for both. He is featured standing in the batter's box about to take a mighty swing. The only way to tell the difference is by turning to card over and look at the number. Card #160 is known to be more difficult to find, especially in higher grade. Low grade examples will cost you at least several thousands while high grades can be multiple tens of thousands of dollars.
Other Hall of Famers
The rest of the set is jam packed with other Hall of Famers also. In fact, over 25% of the set are players who grace the halls at Cooperstown. Similar to the situation with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, many have multiple cards in the set, consisting of different poses. The highlights include Eddie Collins (#42) , Jimmie Foxx (#29 and #154), Tris Speaker (#89), Rogers Hornsby (#119 and #188), Mel Ott (#127 and #207), Left Grove (#220), Carl Hubbell (#230 and #234), Dizzy Dean (#223), and Mickey Cochrane (#76).