Featured 1933 Goudey and the Mystery of Card #106

Discussion in 'Sports Card Chat' started by CamaroDMD, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. CamaroDMD

    CamaroDMD Insert Cool Title Moderator

    Baseball card collectors who focus on vintage cards know the “Big 3.” These three timeless baseball card sets are adored, heavily collected and extremely valuable. Attempting to complete one of these sets can be a lifelong project. Those three sets are 1909-11 T206, 1933 Goudey and 1952 Topps. Each set contains one extremely valuable card with a special story. For the T206 it’s the legendary Honus Wagner and 1952 Topps it’s the Mickey Mantle. That unique card in the 1933 Goudey set is #106, a card as mysterious as the more famous T206 Honus Wagner.

    Before we dive into the story of card #106, let’s start with some information on the set itself. The 1933 Goudey baseball card set was issued by The Goudey Gum Company of Boston. The 240 card set was issued in packs with bubble gum and are considered the very first of the “gum cards.” The cards themselves were 2 3/8in x 2 7/8in with very colorful backgrounds. To capitalize on the stars of the time, some players had multiple cards in the set. The greatest star of the day, Babe Ruth, had four cards in the set and Lou Gehrig had two. In total, 23 players have multiple cards in this set.

    The set was produced in sheets of 24 cards, 10 sheets in total completed the set. Sheet 6 is where card #106 should appear, but it does not. Instead it is replaced by card #144, one of the four Babe Ruth cards. Sheet 6 contains two printings of #144, making it the only double print in the set.

    Basic mathematics tells us that ten 24-card sheets should make for a set of 240 cards, which is exactly what the 1933 Goudey set contains. It is a set numbered 1-240. However, when you factor in that Babe Ruth #144 was a double print, suddenly the set only contains 239 which leaves a missing card. That missing card is #106.

    Now, there are several theories as to why card 106 was left out. However, the evidence strongly supports one theory. That theory is that it was intentionally left out. In an effort to sell more products, it is widely believed that The Goudey Company intentionally omitted one card. Unknowing collectors would therefore find themselves one card shy of a complete set and continue to buy packs hoping to find their missing card.

    One piece of evidence that supports this is the existence of a single card #106. There is one known example of Leo Durocher’s 1933 Goudey numbered 106. The normal production issued Durocher card is #147. It is believed this sole #106 Durocher is a pre-production example that was never intended to be released and was likely obtained directly from the Goudey Company.

    However, the story does not end there. Goudey would issue another, yet less popular, set in 1934. Clearly the missing #106 in the 1933 set resulted in enough complaints that Goudey decided to do something to sooth the ruffled feathers of its consumers. On the last production sheet of the 1934 set, they printed a special card. The card featured the long retired baseball legend Nap Lajoie. The front of the card featured the 1934 card design (quite different from the 1933 design) but the back matched the 1933 cards and it was numbered 106. This card was mailed to collectors who requested it and was paper clipped to a letter.

    As baseball card collecting began to soar in popularity over the next several decades and this set became legendary, so did the 1933 Nap Lajoie. Although it does not match the rest of the set and it was not pack issued, it has become one of the most desired baseball cards of all time. When this rare card comes to auction today, it often brings five figures.

    Collectors of this set have to decide if this famous and mysterious card is needed to complete their 1933 Goudey set. It wasn’t pack issued and the design is very different. On the other hand, it’s the only card 106 that can fill that hole and it comes with a very interesting story. For the majority of even the most dedicated collectors, the price alone makes this card impossible to obtain. Most collectors strive for 239/240.

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    Last edited: Apr 14, 2014
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