Sunday, August 23, 2015

1933 Goudey "World War Gum" (R174, military) #5, Practice At Camp

Today (August 23) in 1914, over 35,000 British troops encountered Germany's 1st army in Belgium, following similar engagements by France earlier that week. It was Britain's first continental battle of WWI, and while at numerical disadvantage, their forces withstood extended artillery bombardment before choosing retreat over potential envelopment and capture. The German army proceeded into Belgium, pushing Allied forces back to the Marne, where...(Wikipedia can take it from here).

I looked up this engagement (the Battle of Mons) thanks to another of Goudey's 1933 sets, World War Gum. It's largely what you see, as a set of 96 black-and-white photos from a war almost 20 years old by that point. Goudey released it as a pair of 48-card series, likely using sales of the first (and other products, like my favorite: Big League Gum) to finance printing of the second series, later that year.

1933 Goudey World War Gum #55, Surprise Attack

The second series used red borders and enlarged its photo space with a "World War Gum" stamp instead of the bottom edge tagline.

While WWI forces weren't immobile, the European ground war went slowly, and as "practice at camp" describes, soldiers commonly met enemies hand-to-hand with rifle butt and bayonet. Moving from trench to trench by foot meant surging into harsh, open terrain that left you open to enemy fire. A line of soldiers going over the lip of a trench remains an enduring image of WWI combat and one that future armies strove to replace with more nimble, mechanized units.

Why did Goudey produce this set in 1933? Hitler had just come to power that January, and it's likely the roiling European political climate appeared regularly in American headlines. While wide-scale conflict was still years away, Goudey could've guessed that kids would snap up the excitement of wartime events, even those from their parents' generation.

For this set, Goudey used the same dimensions and card stock as their better-known 1933 Big League Gum (baseball) and Indian Gum. These World War Gum set galleries seem drab today, but with 30s cinemas showing mostly black-and-white movies and newsreels, collectors of the day might've accepted it as readily as color.

Value: I bought this low grade #5 at the 2015 National in Chicago for $3. With no special "stars," scarcity and context drive prices for individual cards. A graded set auctioned in 2013 for ~$3000.

Fakes / reprints: Haven't seen any in the marketplace, but my knowledge of non-sports (and its potential shenanigans or pitfalls) is far behind that of baseball sets.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

1960 Topps #389, World Series Game 5 (and the baseball peccadilloes of LA's Memorial Coliseum)

This card's always intrigued me, as it could show Maury Wills making a play at second long before he worked out his unusual contract kerfuffles with Topps (who'd passed on signing him for $5 at a minor league tryout) and first appeared "officially" as a Pirate in their 1967 set. So is this really an unnamed Wills covering second? Yes.

While this is Maury Wills taking a throw as Aparicio steals, it's from game 4 instead. Fellow card blog Horizontal Heroes even found the original press photo that Topps repurposed in its post about 1960 Topps #389; Topps just repurposed it incorrectly as "Game 5."

If that's not good enough for you, the official gallery also includes this card between Maury's 1960 and 1961 Bell Brand potato chip cards.

No more mystery, then, 1960 Topps #389 shows Luis Aparicio and Maury Wills, Hall of Famer and 1962 NL MVP, respectively.

1986 TCMA MVPs

So what actually happened in game 5? A piƱata of White Sox pitchers combined to beat Sandy Koufax 1-0, so you can imagine why Topps card editors didn't find a lot of great photos to work with. No "SUPER SANDY" or "NELLIE OUTFOXES LA" really fit. I almost wouldn't blame them for intentionally putting Aparicio's steal on the wrong day, as it's a simpler "story" than explaining how Chicago's pitching changes and outfield positioning kept the Dodgers in check. Check out the series highlight reel to see what I mean and wind to 21:21 for Game 5.

Those highlights aptly demonstrate the "every animal in the barnyard" feel of playing in LA's Memorial Coliseum for 1958-59, the franchise's first two post-Brooklyn seasons. Outfielders had to account for lots of unusual features and not just the ghosted NFL yardage lines. Their left field wall stood a scant 250 feet away, only moderating easy homers with an unusual 40-foot screen.

LA Coliseum : "O'Malley's 3AM Plan" from

That 90,000+ fans went through LA's turnstiles for game after game on an oval "diamond" says a lot about California's hunger for Major League Baseball. That Walter O'Malley's Dodgers proved a dominant force for its first decade out west did a lot to maintain Dodgers / Yankees as baseball's Golden Age rivalry. Maybe Topps should've titled the Game 5 card as "O'MALLEY WINS AGAIN!"

UPDATE: Thanks to the Internet, you can relive the whole Game 5 radio broadcast at (and Game 1 as well).

Monday, August 10, 2015

2015 National Sports Collectors Convention Recap

"It's somewhere in this room. Somewhere. I just need to use my good spyglass and find it."

You can hit three limits at a National Sports Collectors Convention: time, energy, money. If you're there for 3 days, you say: I can't see all these hundreds of tables! If you're there for 4: my feet are dead! If you're there for 5: where'd all my money go!

"Unopened packs. So hot right now."

I lasted 4 days at the 2015 National, arriving for Wednesday's sneak preview, but departing prior to Sunday's unofficial discount day. There's plenty of vintage on display, but personal expectations are always tempered knowing my 1930s and 1940s wantlists aren't easy to hit from $1 card boxes. Low-grade Goudeys have drifted upwards of $5 each and oddball sets remain unpredictable in both location and quantity. But if you've read my Day One Highlights and Day Two Highlights posts, you already know I needn't have worried!


It's easy to summarize these two days as "revisit all those areas that didn't stand out on Wednesday and Thursday." National show floors spread out across a large grid, with large central booths for card companies, publications, web communities, and grading. It's like a Salt Lake City of collecting, a progression of criss-crossed streets expanding out from the massive downtown temple. I visited the "place of worship" (Topps booth) once to get an Allen & Ginter redemption pack.


I caught up and swapped cardboard with each of the 20+ friends from who traveled to the National. We schedule group events like the White Sox game on Friday (Yankees won big) and a full squad meet-and-greet on Saturday. Here we are in full swing, 1960 team card style.

I also made some Twitter connections, including Stephan of @JunkWaxTwins and @YanxChick, who now works for Topps.

Signed card for @JunkWaxTwins 


I bought a lot of cards at the show for the type collection and set building. I felt like this guy, but more smiling.

Let's look at some all of them!

The complete, barely organized haul


(Links go to blog set profiles, where posted and the others will come soon.)

1900s Stollwerck's Chocolade, OBC gift

1914 T222 Fatima: Reulbach SGC 20, $115

1927 W560 strip cards: Wilson (spades), Sewell (hearts), Uhle (diamonds), $5-15 each

1931 Diana Cigarreras (Venezuelan tobacco), Carratu $150

1935 National Chicle Football Stars, Presnell $12

1955 Robert Gould All Stars, Hegan $24

1956-57 Cuban Chicle, Garcia $100

1967-68 Coke Red Sox crown, Brandon $1

1968 Bazooka Tipps From The Topps, Javier $25

1978 Post Cereal Steve Garvey fielding tips, Not shown in scan, OBC gift

#5 binder feeling the effects
Issue #5, a freebie at one table

If you start to work backward as a collector and talk vintage at Nationals, you soon pick up how much focus the dealers of "old stuff" put on buying from each other instead of just selling to attendees. Many well-heeled collectors around the world don't attend this kind of show, making dealers their proxies to acquire items for long-distance resale or auction house consignment. It feels extra-fortunate to find a key hit when you know a number of monied, educated hands already had their shot.


New sets, exciting! Most are from the 1930s to better understand when new card designs and innovations took hold after 1933's explosion of sports interest. Baseball was just a fraction of total card output in that era, so I've added several non-sport sets by Goudey and its close gum card competitors. All sets now appear on my Baseball and non-sport wantlist.

1930 World Wide Gum's Jungle Action Gum

1933 DeLong Play Ball! Gum (2 for $20-40)

1933 Goudey Boy Scouts ($5 each)

1933 Goudey Indian Gum ($1-3 each)

1933 Goudey Sport Kings ($10-40 each)

1933-34 National Chicle Sky Birds, as part of Goudey overview: large lot for $275

1935 Goudey Big League Gum (one for $10)

1936 Goudey Big League Gum, as part of my Goudey overview (several, $5-10 each)

1938 Goudey Big League Gum (several, $10-15 each)

Hobby box of 2015 Allen & Ginter (no notable hits, #bummer)


Low-grade Exhibits make for affordable vintage collecting

1936 Goudey Wide Pen: Freitas, Whitehead, $1 each

1936 Goudey Fine Pen: Swift, $1

1947-66 Exhibits: Six, with HOFs Warren Spahn and Lou Boudreau, $1 each

1967 Sports Cards For Collectors #7 Maranville, $1

1969 Sports Cards For Collectors #38 Lazzeri, $1

1976 Topps Cito Gaston (blank back)


I continue to enjoy the annual National trips, both as an ongoing set-builder and friend to others on similar quests. There are so few opportunities to get 1000s of collectors in a single room and see new things every hour of every day. I'd hate to miss one, even if 2016 means a return to the social and (if you're a gambler) economic vicissitudes of Atlantic City. See you next year!