People who pursue sets between the world wars notice a certain unwelcome consistency to what's on offer. Some 1930s companies recycled their limited number of images, year by year, tweaking things just enough to keep their gum moving. Even 90+ years later, hobby malaise can set in.
Think about spending hundreds on this top-tier HOFer. "How do I feel about such similarity? Are two cards twice as good as owning one? Half as good?"
Chicle and Goudey each put star Lefty Grove in their first series, a predictable way for two Massachusetts companies to recognize the key Red Sox offseason acquisition. Goudey, perhaps chastened by complaints, changed direction after #24. Their checklist for #25-96 looks like what we now call an "update set" of lesser-known guys and roster changes. Jason Schwartz wrote a lot more about this at SABR's card blog. It included someone they left out of 1933's 240-card set, Oscar Melillo.
|1934 Goudey Big League Gum #45
Let's track this popular 1930s second baseman through his lookalike collectibles and rank the best choices for those who like their prewar on a budget. Our first option isn't even a card!
1933 Gum, Inc. Double Header Pins (PX3)
Gum, Inc., who later made 1939-41 Play Ball cards, started in baseball with metal medallions that were meant to be paired front-to-back, hence the name "Double Header." An unopened pack, perhaps unique to our hobby, sold in 2011 via REA.
Their medals cropped Oscar to face alone. He looks friendlier here than on your other 1933 choice, DeLong Gum, a small set published by Goudey's former treasurer, Harold DeLong.
|1933 DeLong Play Ball Gum (R333) #3
Metal coin sets remain a gray area and hard to recommend when other options remain. This set's drab and little-known in our hobby.
Cost: As of writing, eBay sellers ask $60-200 Buy-It-Now for graded PX3 coins (example search).
1934 Goudey Big League Gum (R320)
Oscar's first Goudey card shows DeLong design influence with its sketched grass and cartoon diamond. Its photo expands what Gum, Inc. put on its coin to show his batting follow-through and classic bloused uniform.
|1933 R309-1 Babe Ruth with mail-in promotional strip
|1933 Goudey Big League Gum #12, George Pipgras
|Baseball-Reference.com's 1935 Red Sox transactions (excerpt)
- Diamond Stars Gum for balanced art quality, availability, and hobby familiarity. This set produced a lot of best-of-career player cards.
- OPC/Butterfinger for its big, detailed images. Rank this first if display quality matters most to you.
- 1934 Goudey is comparable to Diamond Stars, if lesser in image quality most of the time.
- R309-2 Goudey remains interesting, if tough to find. OPC/Butterfinger looks better and you avoid competing with team collectors over a scarce issue, the Red Sox composite in particular.