As I walked through the door of the Scottsdale, Arizona home I could smell baseball cards in the air...but I had no idea what I was about to discover. There were about 600 1933 Goudey cards and a total of over 800 Goudey baseball cards from the 1930's spread out on several tables throughout their living room. I knew this collection was special but as I began to pick up each piece of storied baseball history, the hobby was about to change. Never had I seen an abounding amount of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig Goudey cards in one collection. Standing tall among the dozens of stars and Hall of Famers on the table were twenty-two (yes, 22), Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig cards from the 1933 and 1934 Goudey sets! As the owner of Just Collect, I am proud to introduce you to the Arizona Goudey Find.
For 25 years I have been a baseball card treasure hunter. It brings me great joy to discover collections from all over the map. I've been fortunate to purchase many collections of 1930's Goudey baseball cards that included a few cards of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig such as the Name Tag Collection and the mysterious Once Bitten Collection. Finding more than a handful of Ruth and Gehrig cards in the same collection is unheard of; one collector wouldn't hold a double-digit count of the most legendary names in the game. Or so you and I thought. Combing through Hall of Famers and stars like Jimmy Foxx, Tris Speaker, and Rogers Hornsby, out came Babe Ruth, Babe Ruth, and Bab...wait...what? A total of 22 Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig cards in the same collection. Why so many? HOW so many? Wait until you read how I was slow rolled on the 22 cards, as well!
1933 and 1934 GOUDEY BASEBALL CARDS
The 1933 Goudey baseball set has 240 cards in full and were released at a tough time here in the US; the middle of the Great Depression. Goudey releasing the card set was a risk during a time when most anyone could barely afford a few cents on such luxury like the pack of gum these cards were distributed in. The checklist is stocked with stars, consisting of Jimmy Foxx, Tris Speaker, Mel Ott, Lefty Grove, and of course the Yankees Legends in Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. In fact, there are FOUR different Babe Ruth cards in the 1933 set. The follow-up release, 1934 Goudey baseball, had a much smaller checklist. A complete set in 1934 tallied just 96 cards. Ruth was not included in the 1934 Goudey set but Lou Gehrig has two cards and overall there are 19 Hall of Famers in the set!
THE TRIP TO ARIZONA - GETTING SLOW ROLLED ON RUTH AND GEHRIG
Here at the Just Collect store in Millburn, NJ., the weather is a cool 55 degrees around this time of year and dropping by the day. When I landed in Arizona I thought something was wrong; I was sweating! You're thinking nerves kicked in given that I was about to review a collection of 800 vintage baseball cards. It wasn't nerves; I LIVE for trips like this. Turns out Arizona is just that darn hot. I've heard you had a "dry" heat, Arizona, but you got me. I hopped into an Uber before my face melted off, and headed to find the X on my map - straight towards cardboard gold.
The slow roll
For a collection of this size the best way to start my free evaluation for you is to review the top cards in your collection. Example - if you have 100 baseball cards from the 1950's that includes a Mickey Mantle rookie card, sending me a picture of the Mantle card is the best way to start the process. When the owners reached out to me regarding an 800-card collection from the 1930's and provided photos of the best cards in the collection, I did see a couple of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig cards. A couple. Few. Small Amount. Two or three. NOT 22. Going through each of the 800 + cards, this is what I saw:
I'm still stunned just saying that number out loud - 22. For a moment I thought I was living in The Truman Show. I was worried that my old buddy, Mike Wolfe, from American Pickers was in the yard cutting a promo and all of these cards were going back to his shop in Iowa. Was this real? PINCH ME!
On the top you can see three of card 144 in the 1933 Goudey set of The Babe swinging a bat. Card 181 follows with a four-count that features Ruth with a green background, holding a bat. Maybe The Sultan of Swat is on deck, looking to where he wanted to launch his next home run. Next are two of card 53, known as the "Yellow" Ruth. This card with a bright, yellow background is rarer than the other Ruth cards in the 1933 Goudey set, and here are TWO back-to-back in the same collection. A trio of card 149 is next with a design that is nearly identical as the Yellow Ruth but was printed with a Red background.
FIVE cards of Lou Gehrig, The Iron House, from the 1933 set follow. Like Ruth, Goudey included two cards of Gehrig in the set but you can't tell by the front of the card; the same artwork was used for cards 92 and 160. The backs of each card match with the only difference between both cards being simply the number. On the bottom row are three of card 67 from the 1934 Goudey set followed by two of card 61. The Yellow background on Gehrig is more popular among collectors and is an all-time classic. You can't go wrong with the green background from 1934 where Gehrig is holding a piece of lumbar; the man won the Triple Crown in 1934 by swinging the bat!
THE "ARIZONA GOUDEY FIND" COLLECTION
While the 22 Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig Cards steal the show, don't forget that there are still about 800 more cards to this collection and includes plenty of Hall of Famers and stars!
You can see cards from the collection spread out on a table to get a feel of of the size, and you can't even see every card from the collection in that photo!
A few other stars from the collection are:
- Rogers Hornsby who hit .358 for his career and won two Triple Crowns
- Charlie Gehringer, the 1937 AL MVP, who made six all-star teams
- Carl Hubbell won two NL MVP awards as a pitcher (1933 and 1936)
- Mel Ott became the first player in the NL to reach 500 career home runs
- Jimmy Foxx is another Triple Crown winner and owner of 3 AL MVP awards (1932, 1933, and 1938)
- Tris Speaker is a member of the 3,000 hit club and still owns the MLB record for most career doubles with 792
- Dizzy Dean was the 1934 NL MVP as a pitcher and made four all-star teams
Take a close look at that last picture and focus on the final two cards on the bottom right. Do you know who Moe Berg is? Berg had an average career in baseball, tallying 441 hits, but his post-baseball job was as a SPY for the US Government. The man spoke as many as 12 different languages and was sent to possibly assassinate a physicist named Werner Heisenberg if Berg could determine that he was close to making an atomic bomb. Paul Rudd played Berg in the movie The Catcher Was a Spy. Collectors are always interested in the 1933 Goudey Moe Berg card.
Did you notice anything else about the collection spread out on the table? None of the cards were in holders! 800 + vintage, valuable baseball cards just stacked up. The collection had stored in a safety deposit box and when the owner passed away his sons inherited the collection. Both brothers reached out to me for a free appraisal.
APPRAISAL AND PURCHASE
Your local card shop is generally not well equipped to appraise or purchase vintage collections like this. The retail stores are focused on selling modern products and simply don't have the time or the knowledge to carefully evaluate vintage collections. This is where I'm happy to help you. I personally flew to Arizona and endured the "dry heat" to review and appraise this collection in-person.
I carefully and slowly reviewed all 800 + cards in the collection, taking the condition each card into consideration. Condition has a huge affect on value. When using a grading scale to determine condition, the value of a card could change by thousands of dollars when the condition moves up or down by even just one grade. Using two of the Babe Ruth cards as an example, the card on the left has a much higher grade than the card on the right. Creases, rounded corners, and color deterioration leads to a lesser value for the Ruth card on the right.
Using my years of experience, pages of notes, and meticulous review approach, this evaluation took nearly four hours. Near the end of the process one of the brothers asked about the the value I placed on a few cards and mentioned about prices he read about. This is where I explained the grading scale and condition of the cards. At that moment the brothers needed to "talk it over" and wanted to speak in the other room regarding the family heirlooms in my hands. While you may read about the amazing collections I have purchased with Just Collect over the years, I don't always have the pleasure of purchasing the collections I appraise. There have been times where a collector or family opted to keep their collections rather than choosing to sell. It felt like this time my odds of purchasing this collection were falling as the owners spoke. I was certain my odds were about as high the interest rate on my car loan.
I began to think that even if I were not given the honor to purchase such a historic collection that I would treat this evaluation with my life mantra: treat each day as a mini lifetime. Forgot a to-do list. Be present. See. Smell. Appreciate.
Thus the Arizona Goudey Find is born. If the owner chose not to sell, I still appreciated holding 800 + Goudey cards from the 1930s and found what might very well be the largest batch of Ruth and Gehrig cards in one collection.
Mike Wolfe was not in the yard. There were no hidden cameras. The odds were defied. After my appraisal, I made a fair offer to the owners and each accepted. I then paid the brothers how the wanted to be paid! When you choose to sell your collection to Just Collect, I can pay you in cash, write you a check, or install Central Air in your home to beat that Arizona Heat.
The brothers decided they would like to be paid via certified check, so we both took a trip to the bank together. With me came the Arizona Goudey Find stored in this inexpensive box:
Why hold 800 + vintage cards including 22 Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig cards in such a simple box? First, do not store or protect your cards like this! For your personal collection or items that you choose to ship, I have these TIPS for you on how to store and protect your cards. However, I couldn't walk the streets of Arizona with a proper storage box or have a suitcase handcuffed to me; these actions would draw attention and be a security risk. The thought of being a spy like Moe Berg is cool but this treasure hunter needed to bring home the treasure chest safely and securely.
The Arizona Goudey Find is now displayed at the Just Collect store in Millburn, NJ. If you'd like to see the collection, please stop by! When you visit, we'd love to hear your thoughts on how so many Ruth and Gehrig cards ended up in the same collection! I've pondered about the record number and think this about the original owner:
- Big Yankees fan
- Worked in a confectionary or maybe even for Goudey Gum!
- Wasn't a spy ...maybe
STORY OF THE GOUDEY FIND:
WE ARE ALWAYS BUYING
Just Collect is always buying vintage sports and non-sports cards from 1879 to 1979 as well as select modern cards. If you have a collection that you are considering selling, contact us today to discuss or get our industry-leading purchase offer. If you have a collection that you want to be appraised, please contact us and we would be happy to discuss your collection and help you understand the real cash value of your collection in the current marketplace. Check out the Just Collect Buy List.
We always offer a FREE APPRAISAL for your collection here at the Just Collect site. Just click here:
We offer many ways to evaluate your cards other than using our website, too.
If you can make the trip here like the son from my hometown did for this collection- we can make a deal at the office. We once met a father-son duo that drove eight hours from Virginia to meet us to sell a Michael Jordan rookie card stored in Tupperware since 1986 - great read here.
We keep a LIST of the card shows we'll be attending. Come stop by the Just Collect table and chat.
If you have a valuable collection and want us to come to you, we'll hop on the next plane out. We recently took a trip to California to purchase a collection that included three Jackie Robinson 1948 Leaf rookie cards that you can read about here.
We have another location in New York you can meet us at; read all the information here.
If you choose to mail your cards for an appraisal, we will evaluate your cards for FREE still. If you choose not to sell the cards, we'll ship them back with shipping fees paid by us! We can offer our FedEx account with 2-day shipping, fully insured, all covered by us. Simply contact the office to set up this option.
OUR BUYING PHILOSOPHY
We've run into a wide range of people and collections over the last 25 years. Although Just Collect is known for buying vintage sports cards and especially vintage baseball cards, we are also extremely interested in buying non-sports cards, too!
Every collection and every collector is different and we treat EVERY collection with the respect and attention that we show for our own collections. We understand that many have put their heart and souls into building their collections. So when you're ready to sell, we understand the feelings that you're going through and will work with you to help you reach a decision that is a WIN/WIN, because if you're not happy, we're not happy.
Whether you have vintage cards or modern wax you want to sell, you can reach out to us any time!