Manipulative gum companies and a famously rare baseball card

1933 Goudey Napoleon Lajoie

1933 Goudey Napoleon Lajoie

Though its value has fallen a bit in recent years, the pictured 1933 Goudey #106 Napoleon Lajoie has traditionally been one of the most coveted baseball cards due to its rarity. It was produced during the American depression as part of a colorful 240 card set by The Goudey Gum Company, a Boston manufacturer of chewing gum. As with most ‘bubblegum cards’ marketed to kids these baseballs cards were sold inside small wax paper wrapped packs with a stick or two of gum.

As a ploy to move their product, Goudey intentionally didn’t print card #106, the one shown here and depicting Hall of Fame player Lajoie. The reason was the collecting habit of kids back then was to finish a set, meaning collect one of each different card #1 thru #240. With #106 nonexistent, kids kept on buying packs in a futile attempt to finish their sets.

A small number of disappointed kids went as far to write Goudey to complain they couldn’t find the card #106. Goudey relented, printed up a small number #106 cards and mailed them only to the kids who wrote. Some of the 1933 Goudey #106 Napoleon Lajoies can be found with the original paperclip mark from how they were mailed to the kids.

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Even rarer than the Goudey Napoleon Lajoie, and for similar reason rare, is the 1923 Maple Crispette #15 baseball card. Maple Crispette was a Canadian candy that cards were sold with. As described on the cards’ backs, a complete set could be redeemed for a baseball, bat or a golve. To make the redemotions difficult and to sell more candy and cards, card #15 of Casey Stengel was made almost non existent. Today only one example of the Stengel card is known to exist.

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