History, as the old adage states, is written by those who were not there. Fortunately, this Goudey story was written with the help of those few who were and who remembered.
The Goudey Gum Company's story is riveted in American History. The invention of bubble gum served as the catalyst to bring together baseball picture cards with bubble gum. Together they were wrapped in colorful wrappers for sale with printed offers of appealing premiums for "kids." Goudey was the first company to bring baseball gum cards to the American marketplace.
Before the beginning of World War I, the cigarette industry's production of baseball cards was ending and caramel and chocolate candy companies were the major producers of baseball cards through 1932. After 1918, the American economy was in a weakened state. Thereafter, Babe Ruth joined the Yankees, and by the end of 1920, Ruth wore the "crown" as America's first international hero. This birth of gum cards in 1933 captured, in color, a picture and print record of major league baseball celebrities who played during the 1920s through the 1930s.
Economic enrichment, women's liberation, Capone, bootlegging, scandals and industrial successes would combine to bring about the creation of America as a world power. Unable to benefit from the consumer prosperity of the 1920s were the baseball picture cards produced by the candy companies. The cards were of inferior quality and never reached the status of a popular collectible in remembrance of earlier times.
In the opposite environment of the 1930s, the most relevant and artistically created baseball cards and sportscards were produced, and the cards were given sanctuary as a valuable collectable in recording the history of the 1930s through the "eyes" of baseball.
The cards produced by the Goudey Gum Company re-established the artistic quality of baseball cards equal to those manufactured from the 1880s through 1911. The U.S. Caramel Company of Boston, Massachusetts produced the beautiful U.S. Caramel set of cards in 1932 that included Ruth and Gehrig and a number of sports heroes in boxing and golf, thus creating the most relevant candy baseball set that would mark the end of the once popular candy card era. The National Chicle Gum Company manufactured the art deco Diamond Star set, along with premiums, between 1934 and 1936. In 1937, National Chicle was bankrupt.
There were other card sets produced in the 1930s such as the George C. Miller Batter-Up and DeLong sets. Their production, distribution and popularity were limited which, in turn, reduced their historical impact. It was however, the Goudey Gum Company production of sports cards in the 1930s that reached the highest recognition. It depicted "the feel of the game in pictures and words" during the most adverse economic times. At this time, Boston was a dominant producer of gum cards.
In the 1930s, prejudice in America against Italian Sicilians and Jewish Americans was at its zenith. Yet, those 2 3/4" by 2 7/8" Goudey cards helped Americans transcend prejudice by rooting for two of the greatest ballplayers of the 1930s -- Joe DiMaggio and Hank Greenberg. The Goudey Gum Company cards helped to permanently imprint in our minds the great names of those 1930s ballplayers -- Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Cochrane, Gehringer, Dean, Greenberg, Grove, DiMaggio and Wilson, to name a few. However, few can remember the names of the Vice Presidents of the United States, the Emperor of Japan, the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and the King of England during the 1930s.
To illustrate the insatiable desire to own these Goudey Cards, one only has to review the combined SMR PSA 8 calculated value of the Sports King set and the 1933, 1934 and 1938 Goudey sets which is near $700,000. The Goudey premiums (postcard size) pictures of baseball players are also fast becoming a valuable collectible.
The Goudey cards and premiums were responsible for giving Americans a welcome respite from the world beginning to be torn apart by the Axis powers, the depression, racial and ethnic prejudice, religious intolerance and the withering away of American farmland due to poor farming methods. The Goudey printed cards created a visual remembrance of the ballplayers. Through this media source, Americans and Canadians would admire the feats of their favorite players.
These are a plethora of reasons that establish the emotional and the financial value of these simple silkscreen picture cards. Other reasons one will find are personal, and they can be found by holding a Goudey card so as to see and feel the delights deeper than the thickness of the cardboard. It was Enos Gordon Goudey and others who brought to the American culture the beautiful Ruth and Gehrig cards of 1933 and 1934, who gave us the refined background hues helping to highlight the faces of Gehringer, Ott and Ruth, and who printed the artful Sports King set that includes the heroes of other American sports such as football, golf, boxing and basketball. The treasures produced by the Goudey Company transcend the time they were produced as they exited into the modern era as a valuable and historical collectible appreciated by all.
Enos Gordon Goudey was born October 9, 1863, in Barrington Passage, Shelburne Co, Nova Scotia, Canada. He married Florence Goodwin on September 14, 1898 in Boston. It is believed that three daughters were born from this marriage. In 1881, Goudey moved from Canada to the United States where he began working for the Jordan Marsh Company. Later, Goudey, employed by the Beeman Chemical Company in Cleveland, Ohio, worked as a Beeman representative in Boston.
Sometime around 1904, Beeman was purchased and the new company American Chicle Company was formed which, by 1916, had a $15,000,000 value. The American Chicle Company brought together other gum makers into one company. The conglomerate was similar to the formation of the American Tobacco Company that merged several leading cigarette companies close to the beginning of the 20th Century. It was incorporated in 1899. "Chicle," the Mexican product that serves as the principle ingredient of chewing gum, was included in the name.
Enos Goudey's association with the Beeman Company gave him the exposure to the simple product of gum. Dr. Beeman, who sold pepsin for soothing stomach problems, combined pepsin with gum, and the combination was a marketing success. Goudey stayed with Beeman, learning the business, which would later lead him to start the Goudey Gum Company in 1919. Goudey worked in Boston for Beeman, now a subsidiary of the American Chicle Company at 170 Summer Street, at least until 1916.
In 1919, Goudey Gum Company was incorporated. Documents, as early as 1922, confirm that Enos Goudey was President and Harold C. DeLong was treasurer. This is the same Harold C. DeLong that produced the 1933 DeLong baseball card set. The company and the factory were then located on 113 Broad Street in Boston. OH BOY GUM was successfully produced by Goudey during the 1920s. During the 1920s, Goudey was profitable. In 1924, Goudey Gum Company moved to an existing facility in Boston, at 52 Everett Street, Allston, Massachusetts where it remained until Goudey ceased operations in January of 1962.
1928 was the "eye of the storm." A product called bubble gum was perfected by the Fleer Company. Frank Fleer, in 1906, tried unsuccessfully to market a crude form of bubble gum. He marketed the gum as Blibber-Blubber, but it was too sticky and the gum had to remain wet at time of consumption. The gum could not be successfully marketed. In 1928, Walter Diemer, a Fleer chemist at the Fleer Company, was trying to make a new rubber product. Instead, a marketable bubble gum resulted. Pink was the most available color when Diemer, age 23, made the first batch. The gum was named Double Bubble. It was an instant success. Today, including bubble gum, over two billion dollars' worth of gum is sold in the United States every year.
The scene is set for the year 1932. Goudey sold the company by April of 1932. Goudey had sold the company shortly before April, 1932; however, he remained a consultant. Records show that DeLong was also no longer with the company shortly before April of 1932. The new owner was a Corning family member. E.C. Goudey's great, great grandmother was a Corning. It appears likely that Goudey sold the company to a relative.
The Goudey Company combined bubble gum, sportscards and non-sportscards together in wrappers for sale to the public in addition to Indian Gum, Big League Chewing Gum and Sport Kings Gum (along with regular chewing gum products).
In 1933, the Sport Kings, the Goudey baseball set and the Indian Gum set "hit" the market. Not since the "T" cards of the early 1900s had there been such massive renewal of quality baseball cards. The Goudey cards were produced through a less than advanced silkscreen process causing subtle color variations. The printing of the cards were contracted out to an unknown printing company in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Smithsonian provided many of the portraits that appeared on the Indian Gum cards. These portraits originated from Classic Indian Studies housed at the Smithsonian.
Goudey and DeLong added to the marketing package a singular marketing goal and that was to target the "kids" with affordable penny bubble gum with premiums in exchange for wrappers. By mailing 50 Big League baseball wrappers, the Goudey Company would award the sender a choice of one of four R-309-1 cards. The wrapper had a number one through four on each corner. By cutting off three corners and leaving one corner with a designated number is how the card to be sent was selected.
The number one card featured Ruth, card two featured the 1933 N.L. All Star Team, card three was the 1933 A.L. All Star Team and card four was the 1933 Giants World Champion Team card. These premium cards were significant as 1933 was the first major league All Star game and Babe Ruth was the first player to hit a home run in an All Star game. The premiums were produced after each event depicted was played and they were available after the July 6th All Star Game through November 1, 1933. Sending in twenty wrappers in 1934 earned a Knot Hole League membership card, (Lou Gehrig, President) a badge, a premium catalog, and a book illustrating items such as gloves, baseballs and suits in exchange for wrappers.
In 1935, Goudey continued to provide premiums to members of the Knot Hole Club by exchanging wrappers for pictures from a sixteen-card premium (R309-2) set, as well as rings, baseballs and gloves. In 1936, Goudey de-emphasized the production baseball set to 25 cards and issued a massive 175 premium black and white photo set of baseball players (R314 Wide Pens). With the Knot Hole League membership, a "kid" with two wrappers could obtain two premium photos immediately from the storekeeper. By eliminating costs and delays of mailing during these depression years, Goudey sought to increase sales through attractive premium offerings.
In 1937, Goudey issued thumb movies to take advantage of the popularity of arcade movies.
By 1938, no premiums were issued to encourage sales of the 1938 Goudey "heads up" set, which may account for the difficulty of finding these cards.
During Goudey's existence as a company, they produced sport and non-sport sets.
The sport sets are as follows:
- 1933 Goudey Baseball Set (R319)
- 1933 (later part) Sports King Set (various sports) (R338)
- 1933 Goudey premium set of four (R309-1)
- 1934 Goudey baseball set (R320)
- 1935 Goudey 4 in 1 set (R321)
- 1935 Goudey baseball premiums (R309-2)
- 1936 Goudey baseball set (R322)
- 1936 Goudey baseball premiums R314 Wide Pens
- 1936 Goudey baseball thumb movies produced due to the popularity of arcades (R326 booklet with one part) (R342 booklet with two part)
- 1938 Goudey heads baseball set (R323)
- 1939 Goudey premiums (R303 A)
- 1939 Goudey premiums (R303 B)
- 1941 Goudey baseball set (R336)
By 1941, due to the scarcity of cardboard products, the Goudey Company used recycled rag paper to make the cards. During World War II, sugar and paper products were rationed. Goudey was able to remain moderately profitable by making aspirin and laxative gum.
In 1947 and 1948, Goudey Gum issued a 96 Indian card gum set. The postwar period was Goudey's last attempt to enter the bubble gum card market. Due to the financial strength of the Wrigley Gum Company and other large gum enterprises, Goudey could not compete.
The Goudey Company owned the World Wide Gum Company of Montreal, Canada (incorporated in 1933) and they produced various similar issues of cards and premiums as produced in America. Goudey had a small production plant in Granby, Canada (Quebec) -- World Wide Gum, Inc. Sometime, after 1940, Goudey sold World Wide Gum Company. After the sale, World Wide was allowed to use Goudey's trademark names as long as their products were not exported to the U.S.A. Ultimately, the plant closed after 1970. In the United States, the presence of Goudey production was in Boston, Massachusetts. There was also a facility for some limited time in Chicago.
The final chapter covering the ownership of the Goudey Gum Company and reasonable inferences as to its successes and failures is circumstantial. Before 1932, then-president Enos Gordon Goudey, with the able assistance of Harold DeLong, may well have masterminded the 1933 production of bubble gum card sets. The 1933 Goudey issues required a detailed study of history and creative art work in order to produce 216 Indian gum cards and World War cards sets, a Sea Raider set and two sports sets. It remains uncertain as to exactly who was responsible for the ideas that led to the 1933 issued sets. The Indian Gum cards were so popular that Goudey had to truck the gum to a warehouse so that 300 women could hand wrap the packages. In 1933, the company earned one million dollars.
In 1933, the Goudey's Big League gum packs were a sensation. But success met with numerous complaints that the cards were falling apart. Goudey improved the open quality of the cards produced thereafter. It is believed that cards 1 through 40 and 45 through 52 are of the lesser quality. Goudey had one more marketing technique. Omit card 106 so that sales would continue in the hopes of completing the set. The collectors complained and, while Goudey never admitted that card #106 did not exist, Goudey made it known to those who complained that if there were a request in writing, card 106 (Lajoie) would be mailed in 1934. The Sports King Set was produced later in 1933; and, by then, the paper problem was corrected.
As stated, Enos Gordon Goudey sold the company before 1933 and he continued with the company as a consultant. A family member from the Corning Company bought the company from E.G. Goudey. Goudey left the company permanently, after 1933, a wealthy man. He owned a $125,000 mansion in Newton, Massachusetts. He later bought a home in Florida and eventually moved back to his boyhood home in Nova Scotia where he lived out the rest of his life. One of his daughters married the Goudey company doctor.
Before 1933, Harold DeLong left the company and he issued the 24-card DeLong set. Notwithstanding the artistic and appealing design of the set, 1933 was the beginning and the end of the DeLong Gum Company. As to Harold DeLong, it is for another time as to what happened to him, as for now, he is lost in history.
DeLong probably could not continue to produce gum cards because DeLong had so little time to manufacture and market his product from Boston, as he had no wide distribution and premiums in order to compete with Goudey and his cards were no match for the appeal of all the Goudey issues in 1933. Additionally, the National Chicle Company was a large producer of gum cards.
In comparing the 1933 Goudey production and the quality of product with the subsequent Goudey years, the conclusion must be an inference that Harold DeLong was an important creative source of the 1933 Goudey cards as evidenced by the subsequent appearance and quality of the DeLong set. In the late 1930s, the Goudey Company was sold to Alfonso Delehunt, of Albany, New York, the company treasurer.
George Thompson, a chemist by training, held the title of plant manager. Thompson had been with the company starting in the late 1920s. Thompson was actively running the company under the ownership of Delehunt. Thompson was with the company from the later 1920s until the end. His loyalty and care for the company is proven by his tenure. Thompson bought the Goudey Gum Company from Alfonso Delehunt in 1956. By this date, Goudey was producing gumballs and Goudey OH BOY KISSES. At the time, Thompson with the help of his longtime employee Peter Surette, was charged with trying to save the company from closure. He did not succeed. George Thompson was born March 2, 1909, and he passed away December 19, 1995.
In December 1961 and January 1962, the company had trouble heating the plant. Thompson directed that the remaining inventory, including Sky Bird and Jungle gum cards and other old unused inventory, be put in the furnace to keep the building warm. By 1962, the Goudey Gum Company of Boston, heavily in debt, closed for good. In 1970, the World Wide Gum Company shut down.
The Goudey Company had too many battles to win for success. The company was trying to survive in the United States and Canada at the heart of the depression. The business was labor intensive. Paper printing and manufacturing equipment had to be purchased or leased. Competition was the National Chicle Gum Company, Inc., and large gum companies such as Wrigley, Leaf and Fleer seemed to add to Goudey's problems as to profitability. Looking back in time, there are factors that may have added to Goudey's problems such as the lack of a quantity of big name players. Contracts with the teams and players were a necessity before images could be printed.
The 1934 Goudey set best illustrates the company's early struggles in the 1930s. (The set in PSA 8 easily qualifies for a value of over $100,000). The first 37 cards in the set have a significant amount of depicted star players. After card 37, with a few exceptions, most of the players, to use an old expression, were in the major leagues "for a cup of coffee." Twelve cards in the set are the so-called Klein's card followed again by the Gehrig cards. Putting these facts together, the 1934 set was being invented at the same time as it was produced after card 37. The Klein cards may mirror a dispute between Goudey and Gehrig. The dispute may have settled and the rest of the Gehrig cards were produced.
Some type of crisis occurred after card 37. As it appears, Goudey Gum representatives grabbed any rookie or minor league player and put his face on a card. Babe Ruth doesn't appear in the 1934 Goudey set, but, he does appear on the 1935 Goudey set. Ruth and Gehrig, due to a personal dispute over remarks supposedly said from either Gehrig's mother or Gehrig's wife about Ruth's daughter and step-daughter, rarely spoke to each other until the last days of Gehrig's life.
Since Gehrig was the main voice of the 1934 Goudey set, it would have been unworkable for Gehrig to give a quote about Ruth. The Klein quoted cards were dedicated only to National League players.
Four Ruth cards appeared in the 1933 Goudey set. It follows that not having just one Ruth card in the 1934 Goudey set may well have affected Goudey sales. Ruth does appear in the 1934 Canadian Goudey set as card #28 with the same format as the 1933 Goudey and without the Lou Gehrig format. Whatever the case, the production of the 1934 Goudey set appears to be surrounded by turmoil. Nevertheless, the quality and desirability of the set remains.
The years from 1935 through 1937 brought about a shift in the Goudey marketing. The 1935 set inaugurated the puzzle card. The fronts of the cards in the 36-card set remained the same; nine different puzzles could be assembled. The puzzles appear on the reverse. The puzzles include Al Simmons, Jimmy Foxx, Chuck Klein, Frankie Frisch, Mickey Cochrane and the Indian, Senators and Tiger Team cards.
1936 and 1937 began with the black and white production cards and thumb movies with the emphasis on direct premium giveaways at stores selling Goudey products. The depression made it expensive for youngsters to mail in for premiums; thereby, reducing incentives to buy cards. Many of the images come from the Keystone View Company.
As a result of economic times, the 1936 Goudey black and white card set consisted of only 25 cards with the reverse being a part of a baseball card game. The marketing emphasis was on the 120 black and white premiums known as R314 wide pens. The premiums were 3 1/4" by 5 1/2" and were exchanged for wrappers at the store.
1937 marked the introduction of thumb movies.
1938 Goudey brought back cards with color known as the heads up set. The set number starts at 241 and ends at 288. Interestingly enough, the 1933 Goudey set ends with card #240 making it probable that the 1938 issue was a continuation of the 1933 offering. Also, the Goudey Gum Company bought the "Diamond Stars" trademark and other assets when National Chicle went bankrupt in 1937.
Due to the purchase, the words Diamond Star Gum appears on the backs of the premiums photo giveaways in 1939 (303A - 303B). In 1940, Goudey did not produce cards or premiums and in 1941, Goudey produced its last baseball card set.
Goudey tried to make a comeback in 1947 and 1948 with the reproduction of the Indian gum cards. Contrary to rumor, Goudey did not produce cards in 1958. The company sent representatives to England and France to open markets. The venture was unsuccessful.
The Goudey Gum Company brought to the American culture a recorded history of baseball in the 1930s when the world was darkened by troubled times.
The Goudey card premiums and gifts help us to remember the good old days -- Ruth's called shot in 1932, Ruth's 714th home run, Dizzy Dean's 30 wins, Bill Terry's 1930 batting average of .401 and Hack Wilson's 190 RBIs, the debut of Joe DiMaggio and Bob Feller in 1936, the Gas House Gang of 1934, the World Tour of 1934 featured stories of master spy Moe Berg, the debut of Hank Greenberg, Lefty Grove's 300 wins, Mel Ott's journey to hitting over 500 home runs, the first All Star game in 1933 and Chuck Klein's triple crown year.
Bob Feller is the only Hall of Famer still living that appeared in the original Goudey sets.
In 1968, or perhaps 1969, George Thompson, some six years after burning his inventory to warm the Goudey building, answered a Massachusetts news ad that led to his selling Goudey sheets, cards, photos, advertising pieces, gum boxes and endless amounts of Goudey material for $500 to Professor John Fawcett, Professor of Art at the University of Connecticut. Fawcett was interested in Indian Gum material. After the sale, Fawcett kept the Indian Gum material and sold the rest for $2,500. In a 1984 interview, Fawcett estimated the value of the sold items to be $200,000.
1968 was the year of the hit movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," a turning point in creativity in the producing of western movies.
1968 was the Democratic National Convention riots in Chicago and the beginning of monumental social change.
1968 was just a "bunch" of Goudey "stuff" that attracted minimal interest from hobbyists. 2003 is the year that the Goudey stuff is simply a treasure so important that the New York Metropolitan Museum guards its Goudey collection in the same building that houses the art of the ancients, the armor of the Knights of England and the works of Rembrandt, Goya, Picasso and Dali.
No one connected with the Goudey Gum Company should be held accountable for this unpredictable appreciation for the Goudey cards collected and neglected by "kids."
The Goudey Company survivors and descendants have something valuable to hold on to -- a little gum company with limited resources that took a "little" bubble gum and small picture of someone or something, wrapped it with printed premium offers and sold it for one cent to "kids."
Seventy years later, Goudey Gum Company is gone and the owners and workers received no financial rewards for Goudey's pioneering visions. They certainly can lament for missed opportunities to succeed when others took Goudey's simple ideas and made fortunes.
More importantly, to all those who serve the memories of the Goudey Gum Company, one should take heart in that America remembers its inventors and its visionaries. Surely, America will honor the Goudey Gum Company and its members as they take their permanent and rightful place as an important historical chapter in our American culture.
I would like to thank: Kenneth Goudey for sending me advertising photos and for his oral history of the Goudey Family; Bill Thompson, the son of George Thompson, for his memories of the Goudey Gum Company that helped me with the important details; Peter Surette for his oral history of a time when he and his father worked for the Goudey Gum Co.; William Dean, a premier expert on Goudey Gum premiums; Dr. Gerald Glasser, the author of a treatise on candy and gum wrappers; Jeanine Peterson for her help in preparing this article; and Bill Mastro for selling to me the best Goudey cards "on the face of the earth" at his most weakened moment.