Summer, 2013 Auction
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/25/2013
The current high bid for the complete set, $2,000.00, is greater than the aggregate total of the bids on the single cards that comprise this set, $1,910.00 (this lot is currently winning)
The 1939 Goudey R303 sets are among the most interesting of the 1930s gum issues.  In addition to being noted for its popular Big League Gum baseball cards, the Goudey Gum COmpany was an aggressive and innovative marketer.  From the gimmicky exclusion of the Nap Lajoie card in 1933 to their Thumb Movies and Knot Hole League games of the later 1930s, the company consistently invented (or borrowed) marketing ideas that were designed to sell more product.

One of their more successful ventures involved the development of premiums - large-sized photos of popular ballplayers, meant to be supplements to their mainstream baseball card sets.  Premiums were issued beginning in 1934, effectively a "reward" for buying lots of Goudey gum and cards.  The promotions were a hit, setting the stage for sports premium redemption offers throughout the decade, not only from Goudey but from many other companies as well.

As the Great Depression began to take its toll on the country, sportscard manufacturers began feeling the heat, and in 1937 the Goudey Gum Company was able to purchase the assets of the bankrupt National Chicle company, which included the "Diamond Stars" brand.  During that year, Goudey did not release a mainstream baseball set (although it did release a 26-book "Thumb Movies" set and a 24-card "Knot Hole League" set, as well as a 69-card license plates set and an Ice Kings hockey set).  It was not until 1938's "Heads Up" baseball set that Goudey re-entered the baseball card arena.

However, 1937 and 38 saw no new baseball premium sets manufactured by Goudey.  It wasn't until 1939 that Goudey re-entered this arena with the set that is, perhaps, the crowning achievement of 1930s premium collections: the "Diamond Stars" premiums.

Finally using the Diamond Stars brand that was purchased in 1937, Goudey issued three distinct premium sets in the US.  The sets, which featured oversized cards printed in three different tones (brown, black and white, and sepia), featured a small assortment of baseball stars of the day.  The images, produced from photographs using a photo-lithograph process, are beautiful representations of both action and portrait shots of the baseball heroes of the 1930s.  The reverse of each card features illustrations and tips to help youngsters improve their baseball fundamentals, through a series of illustrated diagrams and instructions.  For instance, the reverse of the Ernie Lombardi premium offers instructions on "How to pitch the outshoot."  Bill Dickey's photo instructs "How to catch behind the bat," and Joe DiMaggio's card explains "How to catch flies."

This artwork was also derived from the National Chicle brand, the 1936 Rabbit Maranville "How To" booklets that were issued with the high-number series of "Batter Up" cards leading up to that company's 1937 demise.  

Without the release of a mainstream baseball set in 1939, however, what these premiums were designed to encourage sales of remained a mystery to collectors.  Several years ago, however, an extremely advanced collector and dealer uncovered a wrapper of "Diamond Stars Gum" that was produced by the Goudey Gum Company.  This may well be the missing link between the R309 premiums and collectors, as it would make sense that the R309s were used as premiums to encourage sales of Goudey's new Diamond Stars Gum.  Either way, by 1941 Goudey had reverted to the Big League Bubble Gum brand name, and was offering premiums of a baseball cap, pencil, and Bucky Walters baseball in exchange for Big League Gum wrappers.  The premium photo concept, along with the Diamond Stars brand, appears to have been abandoned.

Presented here is a magnificent collection of 1939 Diamond Stars premiums, one of the highest-grade sets you will ever encounter.  The rarity of these cards in this condition cannot be properly descibed, as they were printed on flimsy, thin paper.  Coupled with their oversized nature, these cards are typically susceptible to general corner and edge wear, along with folds, pinholes, and tape marks from Depression-era youngsters displaying the cards on their walls.

These cards, which will be offered here as a complete set but also as individual single cards (the spoils going to the highest bidder), are in exceptional condition, each of the 24 cards achieving grades among the highest known.  Achieving an overall grade of 78.6, just one of the cards in the set grades under EX 60 (the Bill Dickey, which appears NMT but contains a small pinhole) and the majority in the NMT range.  A grade breakdown of this extraordinary set is as follows:

NM-MT 88: 2 cards, including Jimmy Foxx (HOF) and Frank Higgins.  NM+ 86: One card: Mike Kreevich.  NM 84: 8 cards, including Ival Goodman, Hank Greenberg (HOF), Jeff Heath, Ken Keltner, Ernie Lombardi (HOF), Mel Ott (HOF), Al Simmons (HOF) and Joe Vosmik.  EX-MT+ 82: Two cards, including Luke Appling (HOF) and Joe DiMaggio (HOF).  EX-MT 80: Six cards, including Joe Cronin (HOF), Bob Feller (HOF), Joe Gordon (HOF), Gus Mancuso, Arky Vaughan (HOF), and Rudy York.  EX+ 70: Three cards, including George Case, Ben Chapman, and Lefty Gomez (HOF).  EX 60: One card: Billy Herman (HOF).  GOOD 30: One card: Bill Dickey (HOF, pinhole but NMT appearance).

This is an extraordinary set, with most of the downgrades in the EX-MT range due to centering issues common with these cards that unfortunately keep them out of higher holders.  It is unbelievably scarce to find even an individual example from this set grading NMT or better; to find nearly half the set in condition that strong is unheard of.  Indeed, just one complete set grading higher exists on the SGC Registry, with just three on the PSA Registry.

To view the entire set, you can see the individual cards listed in this auction, and see the grades as listed on the SGC Registry.  

At the end of the auction, this set will be sold to the highest bidding, whether that is the sum of the individual lots comprising the set or the highest bid for the complete set.  The LOTG website will automatically reflect which of the two has received the highest bidding.  Please note that if you bid on this lot, you are bidding on the complete set.
Spectacular 1939 Goudey R303-B B&W Premium Complete Set: #2 on the SGC Registry!
Spectacular 1939 Goudey R303-B B&W Premium Complete Set: #2 on the SGC Registry!
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Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $500
Final prices include buyers premium.: $2,360
Number Bids: 12
Auction closed on Sunday, August 25, 2013.
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