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1939 R334 Play Ball Complete Master Set (234) Including Two DiMaggio and Two Williams
Starting Bid - $2,500, Sold For - $16,590
Extremely attractive mid- to high-grade complete master set of 1939 Play Ball issued by Gum, Inc., consisting of all 161 cards in a basic set plus seventy-three lettering variations. The first of three major baseball-card sets by Gum, Inc., this landmark set includes Ted Williams’ rookie card, Joe DiMaggio, and all of the other major stars and Hall of Famers of the era. The rarer high-number series cards (#116-162) in 1939 Play Ball have always made the assembly of a complete set particularly challenging for collectors. While 1939 Play Balls are numbered #1 through 162, no #126 was ever issued, making the set complete at 161 cards. Seventy-three cards within the low-number series (#1-115) can be found with variations in the printing of the player's name on reverse (all capitals and mixed case), all of which are included in the offered set. This is the first master set of 1939 Play Ball that we have ever had the privilege of presenting at auction. It has been consigned by a pioneer collector who did most of his collecting during the 1960s and 1970s and collected with a very keen focus on condition, eye appeal, and (as can be seen here!) completeness. His determined efforts to acquire all possible versions of a card, including the many Hall of Famers which had to be purchased in duplicate, culminated in the assembly of this superb master set.
We have selected twenty-four cards to be graded and encapsulated by SGC. Condition Report: 1) Complete Set (161 cards): Low-Number Series #1-115: 15% Nr/Mt (including a few better), 26% Ex-Mt, 54% Ex, and 5% Vg-Ex. Keys: #3 Ruffing (EX 60), 6 Durocher (Ex+), 7 Doerr (Ex), 26 DiMaggio (EX/NM 80), 30 Dickey (EX 60), 39 Ferrell (Vg-Ex+), 48 Gomez RC (EX+ 70), 50 Gehringer (miscut, otherwise Ex-Mt), 51 Ott (Ex+), 53 Hubbell (NM 84), 55 Vaughan (Ex), 56 Greenberg (Ex+), 82 Klein (Ex+), 89 L. Waner (Ex-Mt), 92 Williams RC (EX+ 70), 94 Manush (Ex+), 95 Wyatt (NM/MT 88), and 112 P. Waner (Ex+). High-Number Series #116-162: 80% Ex to Ex-Mt (including two better) and 20% Vg-Ex (including two Vg). Keys: #139 Tamulis (NM/MT 88) and 143 Averill (EX/NM 80). 2) Mixed-Case Variations (73 cards): Complete run of all lettering variations relating to the printing of the player's name in both capital and lower-case letters on the card reverse. 51% Ex-Mt to Nr/Mt (including some better), 38% Ex, and 11% Vg-Ex. Keys: #3 Ruffing (EX/NM 80), 5 Sewell (NM/MT 88), 6 Durocher (Ex+), 7 Doerr (NM 84), 18 Danning (NM/MT 88), 26 DiMaggio (EX/NM+ 82), 30 Dickey (Ex+), 39 Ferrell (Ex+), 48 Gomez RC (NM/MT+ 92), 50 Gehringer (NM/MT 88), 51 Ott (NM/MT+ 92), 53 Hubbell (Ex-Mt), 54 Gumbert (NM/MT 88), 55 Vaughan (NM/MT+ 92), 56 Greenberg (Ex+), 80 Fox (NM/MT 88), 82 Klein (Ex), 89 L. Waner (EX+ 70), 92 Williams RC (EX+ 70), 99 Berger (NM/MT 88), and 112 P. Waner (NM/MT 88).
The high-number cards and the numerous Hall of Famers naturally give any 1939 Play Ball an outstanding break value, but the break value of this complete master set, which includes two examples each of Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, is especially impressive. This is a very attractive set in an extremely desirable overall high-grade condition which offers an extremely rare (in our experience, unique) opportunity to acquire an exceptional complete master set of this classic prewar gum issue. The equivalent SMR value for just the twenty-four graded cards (factoring in the five EX+ and EX/NM+ cards at the lower whole-grade level and not including the 210 ungraded cards!) is $8,830. Total: 234 cards (complete set of 161 cards plus seventy-three lettering variations). Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000++. SOLD FOR $16,590
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