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1930s Oh Boy Bubble Gum Display Box and Goudey and Wrigley Correspondence Collection
Starting Bid - $200, Sold For - $237
Robert Edward Auctions has always had a great reverence for hobby history, so it is a special honor for us to present these fascinating relics of card-collecting history in this auction. Presented is a small collection of correspondence relating to gum-card issues produced during the 1930s. This collection consists of eight typewritten letters between longtime advanced collector Bruce Dorskind and representatives of the Goudey Gum Company and the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company. In 1977, Bruce Dorskind sought to unlock some of the mysteries concerning gum-card production during the 1930s and took it upon himself to reach out to the manufacturers for any information they could offer. His inquiries led him to two individuals: David Sloane, the Assistant Secretary at the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, and George Thompson, a veteran of the Goudey Gum Company, who started as a chemist in 1931 and rose to President in 1956. Each response from these gentlemen is printed on company letterhead.
Four letters were exchanged between Sloane and Dorskind over a two-month period between September and November 1977 with regard to the company's interest in the Tattoo Orbit cards produced in 1933. While Dorskind presented several questions in his letter, including why cards were not produced beyond 1933, how the cards were distributed, and how the players were chosen, Sloane was unable to provide much assistance. He did, however, provide copies of the one-cent gum package and glassine envelope in which the cards were issued. He was also able to reveal that Wrigley acquired the Orbit trademark in 1925 after its purchase of the Listerated Gum Corporation, and the 1933 gum-card issue was an isolated case as "the Wrigley Company has not gone into sales gimmicks such as baseball cards" and doesn't "usually seek out the juvenile market by give-aways or premiums."
Correspondence with Thompson was a bit more enlightening as he had risen through the ranks of the company and seen the operation from a number of different angles, starting as a chemist, moving to production, becoming a company officer, and then securing controlling interest in the company and serving as President. Thompson shared that competition between the gum companies rose out of the Great Depression, after Harold DeLong, who was formerly a Goudey Gum Company treasurer, started his own firm in 1932 and produced the first piece of die-cut gum. Goudey then came out with its Big League gum product, and its great success spurred other companies, including DeLong, George C. Miller, and U.S. Caramel, to follow suit. Thompson mentions that Tattoo Orbit, as a division of Wrigley, was offered as a competing product, but was then abandoned in favor of pursuing more expensive gum products than the penny gum packaged with cards (which would go along with the correspondence from Sloane documented earlier that showed Wrigley didn't "seek out the juvenile market"). Exorbitant production costs and lack of distribution were cited by Thompson as reasons for many of the competitors falling by the wayside in the baseball-card arena. According to his letter, one million boxes of product would require an investment of $40,000 to $50,000, and the money would be wasted if all the product was not sold during the current season.
One of the questions touched upon in Dorskind's letter was why the Goudey Gum Company did not produce baseball cards after 1941. According to Thompson, during the 1930s, player rights were not negotiated with players directly, but rather Goudey would contract with agents to use black-and-white news photos, which could then be cropped and colorized as needed by the company art department. After the 1941 release, it was found that proper releases had not been secured for some of the players used within the set, and stockholders decided to discontinue production of any items without direct releases. Dorskind also inquired about the famous 1933 Goudey Lajoie rarity. Thompson's recollection was that the same number of Lajoies were printed as the other cards, but Lajoie, as an "old timer" did not appeal to the target audience, comprised of children age six to fourteen, and likely resulted in a lot of the Lajoies being discarded.
Also included in this lot is an original one-cent display box for Oh Boy Bubble Gum, a product of the Goudey Gum Company. The light brown box, which measures approximately 9-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 1-5/8 inches, was designed to hold one hundred pieces of gum and featured the boldly printed product name on the top and side panels along with three illustrated figures blowing bubbles. The bottom of the box advertises the various flavors available. Near Mint overall appearance with a heavy brown stain on the bottom panel.
This is a unique collection of original source material that offers great insight into the production of gum cards during the 1930s and the competition among the companies involved. It would be a fascinating addition to any hobby-history or gum-card collection. Total: 9 items (8 letters and 1 box). Reserve $200. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $237
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