The Puzzling 1935 Goudey Set
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the December 1995 edition of The Vintage and Classic Baseball Collector (VCBC) magazine. We have received approval from the prior owners of VCBC magazine to republish this article in digital format. We are thrilled to be able to re-circulate the fine works of VCBC magazine for today's vintage collectors.
by Gerald Glasser
The 1933 and 1934 sets of baseball cards issued by the Goudey Gum Company of Boston are recognized as two of the most popular sets in the history of the hobby. One would think that the company would have continued to do more of the same in 1935.
Instead, as a sequel, Goudey produced cards that were quite different from the offerings of the two previous years. While they are not as sought after as cards from the other two sets, 1935 Goudeys nonetheless have an appeal of their own.
The set is known by several names. The fronts of the cards are divided into quarters, each of which includes a picture of a player. So, the cards are sometimes
referred to as “4-in-l’s.”
The backs of the cards have no biography; they show a section of a large picture. When 6, or in some cases 12 particular cards are placed together in a
proper order, the backs form a complete large picture, of either an individual player or a team. Hence, 1935 Goudeys are also called the “Goudey Puzzle Set”.
In addition, the set is sometimes referred to by its American Card Catalog number, R321.
The 1935 Goudeys are, for many collectors, fun to collect and interesting to study. In more ways than one the set IS a puzzle. The set was checklisted several years ago, but there always seem to be new and different ways of looking at the 1935 Goudeys. This article is a combination of old knowledge and new thoughts about the cards.
The Fronts Of The 1935 Goudeys
There are 36 different card fronts, each with 4 players pictured. Two of the fronts are illustrated below:
Most collectors consider the set complete when they have those 36 different fronts. Each front, however, was printed on sheets with different pictures on the back. The result is that there are 114 different front-back variations. How does this unusual number, 114, come about? Read on.
Each picture on the card is accompanied by the player's name and a team affiliation (such as RUFFING/YANKS). Small capital letters are used for both. Usually only the last name of the player is given, though in 9 cases a first initial is also indicated (such as W CLARK, W. HOYT, etc.). Curiously, "TEX CARLETON" is the only player designated with a first and last name.
Nicknames are usually used to identify team affiliation, though for two pictures the identification is "WASHINGTON," while elsewhere "SENATORS" is used. Also, "YANKEES" are sometimes "YANKS" and "CARDINALS" are sometimes "CARDS".
One of the unique features of the 1935 Goudeys is a red or blue border. Most cards of the era have white borders. Of the 36 fronts, 30 are found with a red border (never with blue) and 6 are found with a blue border (never with red). In each case the border extends to separate the four quarters of the card, thereby providing a window-frame effect.
The pictures used in the set are in color. Over 90 percent of these pictures are cropped, retouched and scaled down versions of the same pictures used in the 1933 and 1934 Goudey sets, though background colors are often very different. A correlations of the pictures used for the 1935 cards with the predecessors is given later.
The individual cards typically measure 2-3/8" by 2-7/8" in size, with the usual variation (among cards in that era) from one copy to another.
The Backs Of The 1935 Goudeys
Nine large black and white puzzle pictures, labeled 'picture 1' to 'picture 9' were used for the backs. See below for an example (Picture 1, Card J) of one of the card backs.
Here's a rare, uncut Goudey sheet, showing the complete back featuring Joe Cronin.
There are three team pictures or montages, and six individual player pictures. Each team puzzle requires 12 individual cards and when completed, measures 7-1/8" by 11-1/2". Each player puzzle requires 6 individual cards and when completed measures 5-3/4" by 7-1/8".
**Editors Note--Old Cardboard has a great gallery of images for the assembled Goudey 4-1 puzzles--here is one example.
A complete set of 9 puzzle pictures therefore requires 72 individual cards, twice the number of different fronts. Fronts of the cards bear no number. Backs have a number and letter designation which indicates the section of the puzzle that it represents, such as "Picture 2 Card C". For simplicity, the 6 cards which comprise puzzle #2 may be labeled 2A, 2B, 2C, 2E and 2F. These designations are not always unique because there are a couple versions of most puzzles.
The pattern of puzzle pieces for the two sizes is consistent for all puzzles, and is shown below:
Note the unusual pattern used for the 12 piece puzzle as shown below
And here's the pattern for a 6 piece puzzle
There were two different printings of puzzles #1 through #7; that is, there were printings of each of those puzzles with two different fronts. The versions listed in the last seven columns of Table 1 are reportedly much scarcer than the others. Only one version of puzzles #8 and #9 was printed. Table I also provides a checklist of the 36 fronts with player names as they appear on the cards. Players are listed left to right, first from the top row and then from the bottom row. A reference number has been assigned to each card after alphabetizing them by the first player's name.
Table 1 is primarily designed to explain front-back combinations. That is, it is convenient and useful to think of the 36 fronts as 6 panels of 6 cards. See below for an example of one of the 6-card panels.
The reverse side of that panel is one of the puzzle backs. The back is a picture of Jimmie Foxx (labeled, as was so often the case in that era, as Jimmy Foxx"), shown below:
Cards in each of the panels were always printed together, in the same order.
For example, cards in panel I, namely , , , ,  and  were printed
together: the first three cards were on the top, left to right, and the last three were
on the bottom, left to right.
In some cases, 2 panels were printed together so that the reverse side of the two panels together represented either (a) one of the team puzzles or, on occasion, (b) a pair of player puzzles side-by-side.
For example, panel I was printed, at different times, with puzzle #3, #4 and #5 on its backside. Also, panel I was combined with II and printed with puzzle #1 on the back. Panels V and VI were printed together twice, with puzzle #8 and then #9 on the reverse side.
The cards in panel III were all printed with blue borders. Hence, only the 6 cards in that panel can be found with blue borders. All other panels. and the cards in those panels were printed only with red borders.
Note that there are 120 front -back combinations listed in Table 1. but that 6 of those for panel II are basically the same between the two versions of puzzle #1. This explains the fact that there are 114 distinguishable front-back combinations.
The most valued card in the set is , the one that includes Babe Ruth in the upper left quarter with, sad to say, the Braves listed as his affiliation.
Perhaps sadder, from a collector's point of view is the absence of Lou Gehrig from
the set, especially after the prominent role he played in Goudey's 1934 issue.
There are 144 pictures of players on the fronts of 1935 Goudeys (36 x 4) but, curiously, six players twice (with essentially the same picture): Bottomley, Brandt, Cochrane, Comorosky, Kamm, and Mancuso. Thus, 138 different players are pictured on the cards.
No card depicts four Hall-of-Famers, but three cards picture three each. One shows Red Ruffing, Tony Lazzeri and Bill Dickey. A second (shown below) includes Paul Waner, Waite Hoyt and Lloyd Waner, and a third has Burleigh Grimes, Chuck Klein and Kiki Cuyler. Five cards include two Hall of Famers and 13 cards have one. In total, 32 of the 144 pictures, or only 22.2% represent Hall of Famers.
Table 2 lists full names of the players shown in the set (and corrects some errors found in price guides). It also provides a correlation between the pictures used for the 1935 Goudeys and the cards in the company's 1933 and 1934 sets.
Of the 144 pictures, 80 had ben used in the 1933 set but not in 1934, 33 had been used in 1934 set but not in 1933 and 20 had been used in both sets. Thus, there are only 11 'new' pictures in the 1935 Goudey set. That is, none of the players in these pictures appeared in the 1933 or 1934 set.
Note that 10 of these 11 pictures were parts of the panels used for puzzles 8 and
9, which were probably the last of the cards that were issued. Also note that one of the 36 cards is unique in that it has 4 "new" pictures. This is the card with Campbell, Myers (misspelled as Meyers), Goodman and Kampouris.
For 30 of the 36 fronts, the four players are from the same team, and every major league team of the day has one or more cards like that. The other six fronts depict players from two or three different teams.
Which teams are most frequently represented/ With Cochrane appearing twice, Tigers represent 13 of the 144 pictures, followed by the Braves and the Reds with 12 pictures each. On the low end, the Cubs and the Phillies each have only four players represented.
As noted above, the Waner brothers (Paul and Lloyd) appear on a card together. So do the Ferrell brothers (Rick and Wes).
Who was excluded? Besides Gehrig, a number of other future Hall-of-Famers did not make it into the 1935 Goudey set. Several were omitted even though they had appeared in the 1933 and/or 1934 sets. Notable exclusions include Carl Hubbell, Lefty Grove and Arky Vaughan, all of whom appeared in both prior sets.
Errors And Variations
The set has two misspellings of names. Bill Myers, on card , has his name misspelled as Meyers and Buddy Myer, on card , has his name misspelled as Meyer.
A variation is sometimes reported: the Campbell-Meyers-Goodman-Kampouris card without the misspelled name, Meyers, printed on it. However, it is almost certain that this is an illusion. The background to the Meyers picture is blue and the name that is printed in that background in blue.
Usually the name is a darker blue than the background, but there is considerable variation in the shade of blue actually printed from one sheet of cards to the next, and, at the extreme, the name blends into the background and essentially disappears!
Are there any bona fide variations? Apparently none have ever been reported in the hobby and, while there is always the possibility that something will show up sometime, somewhere, it seems unlikely.
Tips for Collectors
The 1935 Goudeys are popular with collectors, but no where near as popular as the two sets Goudey previously issued. Why? One reason is that collectors are not as fond of multi-player cards as they are of cards devoted to individual players.
Another negative is the lack of biographical information--not even a full name!
But many "true collectors" like the set because it is a challenge, for several reasons. The cards are certainly rarer than either the 1933 or 1934 Goudeys, particularly in top condition. They probably did not sell as well as 1933 or 1934 Goudeys and fewer were circulated. Further, the cards were played with as parts of puzzles, so wear is to be expected.
Moreover, the red and blue borders are very unforgiving; they highlight any corner
and or edge wear. The mindful collector will want to check borders carefully to
make certain someone that has not tried to improve" the card by trimming it or by
touching up the color with a red or blue pen or pencil.
Sometimes the various color impressions are out with many of register, as is the case cards of the era. This, however, is more of a distraction with 1935 Goudeys
because each individual picture is small, covering only one-quarter of a card.
Size variation and centering problems are also common, though no more so than.
for say, 1933 Goudeys. However, a variation of more than 1/32" from nominal
measurements, in either direction, is unusual.
Generally speaking, none of the fronts seem particularly scarce relative to the
other cards in the set. However, if you decide to collect front-back variations,
remember that the cards associated with some versions of the puzzles are scarcer
than those associated with other versions.
**editors note - I took the liberty to update this section, as the author's article values were out of date
Based on recent PSA auction values, the Ruth card is the most valuable and good condition copies can often be found for less than $1000.
A wrapper is usually a nice supplement to a set if you can find one. The wrapper used for 1935 Goudeys is red, blue and white, advertises Big League chewing gum and, in the center panel, portrays a silhouette of a batter completing his swing.
The profile of the unidentified batter strongly suggests Babe Ruth.
One of the end panels of the wrapper describes the cards contained in the pack.
The other provides a coupon redeemable for Big League premiums. The coupon has
a clear message:
"Join the 1935 Knot Hole League of America" by sending coupons to Goudey to receive a membership card, premium list and an official ring!
No mention is made there, or elsewhere, of Lou Gehrig who in 1934 was president, albeit a figurehead president, of the Knot Hole League.
Only one basic design for the 1935 wrapper exists. There are white wax and
clear wax versions, which vary in size and also in a minute detail: it was printed with and without bars about the phrase "Join the 1935 Knot Hole League of America".
Wrappers for 1935 Goudeys are more readily available than for most pre-war cards. Why? Because they could be redeemed fom premiums, there was good reason for a collector to save, and not discard them. Wrappers without premium offerings are very scarce.
What's a fair price for a 1935 Goudey wrapper? Dave Richardson's Pre-War Wrapper Guide suggests $200 to $300, depending on condition. In judging condition, the collector should look for missing pieces, tears, pinholes, excessive folds and wrinkling, stains and centering.
Coupons cut from the wrappers could be redeemed in two ways. First, they could be accumulated and redeemed for premiums such as a baseball, glove, cap or a special "Dizzy" and "Daffy" baseball suit (examples of which still exist).
The latter, for example, cost either either 1,000 coupons or 250 coupons plus
$1.00. In addition, the remaining part of the wrapper could be saved and 10 of these could be redeemed for a photographic print from storekeepers.
These premium pictures are sometimes referred to by their American Card Catalog
number, R309-2. The pictures are black and white prints on thin paper
stock, measure about 5-1/2" by 9-1/2" and portray various players or teams.
There are 15 different pictures, and these are checklisted below:
|Card #||Player Name|
|(12)||Gerald Walker, Ervin Fox, Goose Goslin|
|(13)||Boston Red Sox|
Several uncut sheets of 1935 Goudeys exist, and are particularly interesting and valuable as collectibles because the backs provide complete puzzle pictures.
Uncutsheets have sold at auction, for between $1000 and $7000 apiece in recent years. Price certainly depends on the condition of the sheet and the players included, but much of the variation in price is simply caused by the vagaries of a thin market; that is, a market with very little supply and very little demand.
Other collectibles associated with 1935 Goudeys are paper advertising pieces which were intended to be pasted in store windows. Here is one that is 9-1/2" x 11".
The pieces are attractive and provide interesting and useful historical information about how the packs were marketed.
The author is grateful to Lew Lipset for his considerable assistance in providing and verifying facts, details and nuances about 1935 Goudeys. Lew has been an avid collector of the set with all its variations for many years. As we all know, when it comes to baseball cards, he has seen them all and then som, but nonetheless ranks 1935 Goudeys as his favorite set. How about that!