Tuesday, July 29, 2008

1936-37 World Wide Gum Baseball (V355) #5, Johnny Vergez

Zounds, is this a card from the depression era or what? It's hard to tell if Johnny Vergez needs a sandwich or some sleep. We'll save him a YMCA cot down on East 47th St and keep a BLT warm in the Polo Grounds clubhouse to cover all the bases.

If there's anything to enjoy about the photo, it's Johnny's snazzy cap. Witness the scalp-hugging form that preserved 1930s head warmth and compare it to today's raised-crown, vented mesh version. Also remember their wool, full-body uniforms! Some of those players must've cooked beyond al dente for most of the summer.

In 1933 and 1934, Montreal's World Wide Gum (WWG) adapted Goudey Gum's USA baseball sets for a Canadian audience, echoing their basic design and translating some cards into French. This 1936-37 set's exclusive to Canada and is pretty much as you see, with sparse detailing and headline-style lettering. (For whatever reason, this photo makes me think J. L. VERGEZ HITS ICEBERG, SINKS IN NORTH ATLANTIC! Must be the Titanic fan in me.)

World Wide Gums feature text-heavy backs typical of the 30s and prove challenging to complete, even for those with deep pockets. I went into much greater depth on this set and the relationship between World Wide Gum and Goudey in my 2019 article, 1930s World Wide Gum and "Canadian Goudey."

Values: This #5 cost about $10 on eBay in 2004. I expect V355 commons to run $20 in low grade today.

Fakes / reprints: I believe people have faked V355's rookie card for Joe DiMaggio and other big names from the set like Lou Gehrig, so buy from dealers you trust if you want type cards of star players from this era. Familiarize yourself with the differences in 1930s print technology and bring a black light and loupe if you plan to examine cards in person. David Cycleback wrote a valuable book on this kind of card authentication.

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