The 1934 Goudey Baseball card issue followed one of the most coveted pre-war sets of all time.
The set is beautiful and leverages a similar, colorful design as seen with the 1933 Goudey baseball card set.
Yet, a glaring omission is the lack of any Babe Ruth cards in the set (recall, Babe has four cards in the 1933 Goudey set).
Yankee slugger Lou Gehrig is the main focus of the set.
The "Iron Horse" is the only player with multiple cards in the set. Gehrig's face is also featured on the majority of the card fronts, with a quote from Gehrig on the backs.
Collectors sometimes refer to this one as the 'Lou Gehrig Goudey' set.
Follow along as I explore the 1934 Goudey issue, providing data on scarcity, investment potential, and the most valuable cards in the set.
1934 Goudey Baseball Card Facts
The 1933 Goudey set the standard for a larger sized gum card, compared to the narrow candy and tobacco cards issued in years prior.
Goudey's follow up act in 1934 bore a close resemblance (including many repeat images) to its groundbreaking '33 set, yet with some fairly significant changes.
The 1934 Goudey set kept the bold colorful backgrounds from the 1933 set but added silhouette background actions photos.
The biggest change was the addition of a banner at the bottom of the card.
The majority of the cards (84 of 96) have a blue banner that reads 'Lou Gehrig says' with a small portrait of Gehrig.
The remainder of the cards have a red banner reading 'Chuck Klein says'.
The card backs feature a detailed writeup on each player, supposedly authored by either Gehrig or Klein (although the writeups aren't all that colorful).
Below are the backs of Charley Gehringer and Joe Strip cards. There is one notable difference to point out.
It isn't until card #25 in the set that Goudey made a subtle change to the back of the card. The Stripp card shows this change. Goudey added Lou Gehrig's signature and the text 'By Arrangement with Christy Walsh'.
Who Was Christy Walsh?
Christy Walsh is considered to be the first sports agent in professional sports. He was a lawyer and a sports writer, but became most well known as the agent for Babe Ruth. Walsh was the preeminent PR guy and was also the agent for Lou Gehrig.
This is a great piece that discusses some of the reasons for the changes to the cards. It is suspected that PR guy and Gehrig agent Christy Walsh was pushing for Goudey to make some changes:
Based on a closer look at my 1934 Big League Gum set, I suspect that Christy Walsh, Lou Gehrig's business manager, convinced Goudey to make several design changes in support of their new Knot Hole League spokesman after their first series.
What Is The Knot Hole League?
Goudey launched The Knot Hole League Of America, which was a collectors club that rewarded kids for sending in wrappers.
Kids could obtain Goudey Premium cards along with other sports equipment, including baseball gloves, hats and jerseys.
Even the back of Gehrig's card #61 from the set hypes up the Knot Hole League.
Why Is Babe Ruth Not In the 1934 Goudey Set?
Another glaring difference is the omission of one Babe Ruth, who at the time was still playing with the Yankees in his final season.
Many have speculated why, but there is no confirmed reason for the lack of any Ruth cards in the set.
The jasoncards blog provides a few potential theories. The range of possibilities includes a theory that Goudey might have planned on the 1934 set as an extension to the 1933 set. This could help explain the fact that the 1934 set has only 96 cards, compared to 240 for the 1933 Goudey set.
Also, there is the consideration that maybe Ruth and Gehrig's fractured relationship at the time led to Ruth declining to be included in the set.
However, notably, kids could mail in wrappers to obtain one of Ruth's 1933-34 Goudey Premiums (R309-2) cards.
1934 Goudey Baseball Most Valuable Cards
We've narrowed down the most valuable cards in the 1934 Goudey Baseball set, sorting values from the PSA SMR Price guide, using PSA 7 (Near Mint) values.
Commons from the set (in lower grades) average $20 per card.
1934 Goudey Lou Gehrig #37
Collectors looking to buy a #37 Goudey Gehrig will need a significant budget, especially for higher-grade copies.
Recent auction sales of PSA 8 (NM-MT) Gehrig #37 Goudey cards have exceeded $130,000.
In low grades, the Gehrig #37 is within reach for some collectors. PSA 1 (Poor) to PSA 2 (Good) copies have sold for between $2000 to $3500.
1934 Goudey Lou Gehrig #61
Gehrig's #61 Goudey card is his second card in the set. While it is the second most valuable cards in the set, it isn't as popular as Gehrig's smiling #37 card.
Understandably so, the image used by Goudey isn't a flattering one of Gehrig.
But, I named the card as the 'Best Overall Value in the 1934 Goudey set.
How is a card that sells for multiple thousands of dollars a good value?
As shown above, the #61 Gehrig is tougher to find. And the #37 has consistently held a 20-30% premium in most grades over the #61 Gehrig.
In lower grades there isn't a huge variation in pricing between the #37 and #61 Gehrig, but in mid to high grades, there usually is a noticeable premium on #37.
1934 Goudey Jimmy Foxx #1
The Goudey #1 Jimmy Foxx card is the third most valuable card in the set. Similar in the 1933 Goudey set, his name is misspelled (should have been Jimmie Foxx)
Like many other cards in the set, Goudey reused images from the 1933 Goudey issue. The major difference being the addition of silhouette action figures to the background, along with the 'Lou Gehrig says' banner.
Foxx holds the #1 card in the set, making it prone to condition problems.
Of the 540 PSA graded Jimmy Foxx cards, only 18 have earned a PSA 8 or higher, the lowest percentage in the set.
Collectors can find low grade Foxx #1 Goudey cards for less than $500, but high grade copies are pricey.
1934 Goudey Hank Greenberg (RC) #62
Considered the true rookie card for Tigers HOF slugger Henry "Hank" Greenberg.
Following the two Gehrig and Foxx cards, the Greenberg rookie card is the fourth most valuable card in the 1934 Goudey set.
Note that Greenberg has a card in the 1934-36 Diamond Stars set, however the card was not issued until 1935, making the Goudey card his true rookie card.
There are 550 PSA graded copies of the Goudey Greenberg rookie card.
1934 Goudey Jerome "Dizzy" Dean #6
Another re-used image by Goudey from the previous year. Personally, I prefer the classic look of Dean's 1933 Goudey card, but the 1934 Gouden Dizzy Dean is still a great card.
Dizzy was a dominant pitcher but had his career cut short due to injuries.
Dizzy’s playing career may have been a touch short for what we expect of a Hall of Famer, but his life inspired movies, plays, biographies, imitators, restaurants and museums. Perhaps we should not focus too hard on the technical merits of the performance.
Dean's card in mid to low grades is somewhat affordable, with PSA 3 (VG) and lower copies often found for less than $500.
1934 Goudey Lefty Grove #19
Another image that Goudey reused from the 1933 set. Like with the Dizzy Dean card, I prefer the look from the 1933 set with the illustrated background. But, otherwise still an awesome card.
Grove is ranked as the third best pitcher of all time by Bill James, behind only Walter Johnson and Satchel Paige.
1934 Goudey Mickey Cochrane #2
Like many cards in the set, Cochrane's 1934 Goudey card is a reused image from his 1933 Goudey issue.
Lou Gehrig refers to Cochrane as 'the best batting catcher in the American League'.
Lower grade copies typically sell for less than $200 and increase from there based on the overall condition.
1934 Goudey Carl Hubbell #12
High grade copies of Hubbell's card are quite valuable. A recent auction for a PSA 8 copy nearly topped $3000.
Collectors looking to buy a Hubbell on a budget can do so, as low grade or ungraded copies are modestly priced.
1934 Goudey Charlie Gehringer #23
Charley Gehringer's 1934 Goudey card is a reused image from his 1933 Goudey issue.
Lou Gehrig provided a bit more substance on the back of Gehringer's Goudey card.
"Take a combination of a fine fielder, a dependable hitter and a good baseball player and you have the makings of a star baseball player".
Gehringer is one of the more unknown HOF players in terms of card values. Bill James ranks Gehringer as the eigth best second baseman of all time.
1934 Goudey Paul Waner #11
Paul Waner was a big time hitter, an all time Pirates great, known to teammates as 'Big Poison'. Waner finished his career with over 3100 hits and a .333 batting average.
Paul Waner's 1934 Goudey card is a reused image from his 1933 Goudey issue. There are 370 PSA graded copies and even mid grade copies are somewhat affordable.
Consider the Waner as one of the better overall values in the set, relative to the actual supply.
1934 Goudey Ki-Ki Cuyler #90
Goudey switched things up a bit with the #90 Kiki Cuyler card. Note that they did NOT use the same image from Cuyler's 1933 Goudey card. Also, Cuyler's card is one of 12 cards that has a 'Chuck Klein says' banner....and not 'Lou Gehrig says'.
Cuyler was a phenomenal hitter and a speed demon on the bases. Cuyler batted .300 or higher ten times during his career, good for a .321 lifetime batting average. He also finished his career with 328 stolen bases.
On the back we get the commentary from Chuck Klein (not Gehrig) who calls Cuyler 'one of the best hitters in the National League, one of the fastest runners and a fine outfielder'.
1934 Leo Durocher #7
Durocher's image for his 1934 Goudey card was also used in the 1933 Goudey set.
Durocher earned a Hall Of Fame berth in 1994, not for his play on the field, but for his managerial expertise.
For 24 years, Durocher served as manager for the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros. His teams won over 2,000 games, capturing three pennants and one World Series victory.
1934 Goudey Luke Appling (RC) #27
1934 Goudey Floyd "Arky" Vaughan #22
If Appling is underrated, than we also need to take a look at one Floyd 'Arky' Vaughan. Some consider Vaughan to be one of the most underrated players in the Hall Of Fame.
Bill James takes a closer look at the season by season stat lines for shortstops Appling and Vaughan. I highly recommend it.
Investment Potential Of The 1934 Goudey Set
Overall Investment Rating: 8 out of 10
While it doesn't get the same fanfare as the 1933 Goudey cards, the 1934 Goudey issue is still quite popular.
The lack of Babe Ruth cards and smaller set size (only 96 cards) leave some collectors uninterested.
But, the inclusion of two Lou Gehrig cards makes this set a key pre-war issue.
The two Gehrig cards should remain excellent long-term investments.
Gehrig is among the top tier of players in baseball history.
Collector demand, along with limited supply, makes for great cards to buy and hold.
The Greenberg rookie in higher grades along with higher higher grade HOF players from the set should also among targets for collectors investing in the set.
1934 Goudey Baseball Checklist
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