Differences in the 1930s National Chicle Fine Pens and Goudey Wide Pens Sets

While there are similarities in the Fine Pens and Wide Pens sets, there are some differences, too

Gum and candy companies ruled the American baseball card scene in the 1930s. While tobacco cards were the highlights in other countries, U.S. cards had mostly transitioned to gum and candy inserts.

In addition to standard cards, various premiums were created as well. Among the more popular ones were National Chicle’s 1936 Fine Pens photographs (R313) and Goudey’s 1936-37 Wide Pens Photographs (R314).

R314 Wide Pens Joe DiMaggioR313 Fine Pens Frankie FrischIf you were new to these issues, you might think they comprise one large set. Shown here is a Fine Pen (left) and Wide Pen (right).

Slightly larger than 3″ x 5″, they both are roughly the same size as a postcard. Both are also printed on a thinner stock of paper as opposed to cardboard and have black and white images with white borders. Jefferson Burdick surely saw the similarities cataloging them back-to-back as R313 and R314 in his American Card Catalog.

Despite the similarities, the two sets are also quite different.

For one thing, the two sets were issued by competitors. Goudey was king of baseball cards in the 1930s but they had some competition. One of their rivals was National Chicle, which also sold cards with gum. As stated earlier, Goudey produced the Wide Pens while the Fine Pens belonged to National Chicle.

Price is a minor area of difference, too, though it is pretty minimal. They are relatively the same but the Goudey Wide Pens sell for a wee bit more than the National Chicle Fine Pens.

In terms of design, the biggest difference, obviously, are the styles in which the names are written. The Fine Pens set used, as expected, a thinner style of print. But besides that, another difference is that the Wide Pens only included player names while some Fine Pens included a player’s name as well as a small phrase about the scene picture.

Plus, some other minor design differences are seen, too. All Fine Pens look the same but some Wide Pens have variances. As a result, those have been broken down into different ‘types.’ Type 1 Wide Pens have a ‘Litho in USA’ print in the header while Type 2 Wide Pens do not. Additionally, Type 3 Wide Pens do not have a border. These variances are not seen in the Fine Pens set.

In addition, the Goudey issue is much larger. While there are 120 photos in the National Chicle Fine Pen set, there are at least 168 in the overall Goudey Wide Pens release. There are actually about 250 labeled as Goudey Wide Pens these days but, as I wrote here, many of these are likely part of a separate Canadian series classified by V352 in Jefferson Burdick’s American Card Catalog. Types 1-3 are R314s but what are often called Types 4-5 are probably V352s.

It is worth noting the separate types of Wide Pens could actually be counted as distinctly different sets as opposed to subsets, which is how they are most commonly treated. But even if you do that, we can still state that there is a larger number of overall wide pens across the various types than there are fine pens.

The Fine Pens and Wide Pens are indeed very similar. But there are clearly some differences which help collectors distinguish them a bit, too.

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