Two Ugly Cards: A Collector’s Tale of 1930s Baseball Cards
Two ridiculous 1935 Goudey cards tell a tale of generosity and baseball card collecting
A couple of years ago, I reluctantly got into the 1930s gum card market.
Now, this was not my first foray into 1930s baseball cards. Before I made a full-time jump to collecting only pre-war cards, I sold a near-complete set of 1933 Goudey cards in order to jumpstart my T206 set.
But after abandoning that really nice collection, I’d sort of gotten away from gum cards. I started collecting earlier stuff from the tobacco card and early candy/caramel card era that, frankly, I enjoy a bit more. 1930s gum cards are fine, mind you. But my real preference is for cards that are a bit earlier.
One weekend purely out of boredom, I moseyed over to the COMC website. I was looking for a cheap and easy thrill (not that kind of thrill, you perverts) and got stuck on the 1936 Goudey cards. I can’t say why or how, I just did. I quickly bought up most of a set there (it is after all, only 25 cards and quite easy to complete) before finding the rest on eBay over the course of a weekend.
After that, though, I wanted more. And in terms of the next easiest Goudey set build, that would be the 1935 Goudey set. Unlike 1936, the 1935 set does have Babe Ruth in it. But the Ruth card is one of his cheapest playing day gum cards and the rest of the set really isn’t that bad. In low-grade condition, you can get every other card for under $100.
With 36 cards, the 1935 Goudey set isn’t quite the piece of cake 1936 is. But it’s still relatively easy and one I managed to bang out without much trouble.
As I do with other sets, I went the low-grade route. I typically strive for respectable when it comes to low-grade – you know, something with creases, maybe some light writing but no major paper loss and not something that looks like it was run over by a truck.
But sometimes you take something with, well, major paper loss and something that looks like it was run over by a truck.
One of the uglier cards I’d had was one that featured Hall of Famers Mickey Cochrane and Charlie Gehringer of the Detroit Tigers. The card is a little more expensive with those guys on it and one I’d had a hard time locating at a price I wanted to pay. Then, I found an absolute beater of a card that came with a catch.
Cochrane was non-existent.
Now, I don’t mean non-existent in the fact that part of his picture was gone. I mean, his entire picture was missing from the card due to a major spot of paper loss. I can’t remember what I paid for the card but it obviously was suitable to me because I bought it. But having such a card in a set just kind of weighs on you. You know you should replace it but sometimes that is hard to do or it just isn’t much of a priority.
Nearing completion needing only the Ruth, though, I knew what I needed to do — and that was score an upgrade. So I did what any collector not wanting to spend money does — begged to trade for one.
I sent an email out to a collector group and explained my plight as well as the terrible condition my card was in. After all, when you tell someone you want to upgrade a card, the first thing they need to know is how bad is your current one.
Relatively quickly, I got a hit from one of the group’s more generous members. He had this card but the hitch was that he wasn’t sure I would consider his to be an upgrade.
See, his card at least had part of Cochrane’s face but had significant paper loss over it, over Gehringer’s and over the image of a third player, Billy Rogell’s. The question was, did I consider his card to be an upgrade? Absolutely. After all, Cochrane is really key player on the card and to have part of his face there is better than none at all.
And the best part? This upgrade didn’t cost me a single cent as the collector graciously sent it to me. I did send him some cards for it but was not under any obligation to do so.
I kept the card in my set for a while. Obviously it wasn’t a great card but, to me, it was passable. Ultimately, I did upgrade it to a more respectable SGC 1 without any paper loss. But in the world of set collecting and trying to stretch resources, these two cards, in that moment, worked for me.