The 1934 Nap Lajoie. The stuff of hobby legend. One of the iconic cards that most all collectors at least recognize if not know about the story behind the cardboard.
This one is bad. The screwdown just adds insult to injury. So Instead of boring you with why this copy here is fake, I thought I would share the story of the real card.
It was mostly likely a case of simple manipulation. Goudey Gum had no idea how successful their cardboard would be when they wrapped them with slabs of gum. To make sure they sold enough of their gum, the fine folks at Goudey decided to mess with the minds, and pockets of young kids of the country. When the 240-card set was laid out, one card number in particular was missing. No matter how many slabs of penny gum you tore through, you were not going to find card #106. This was a big deal for the set collectors (remember those?) Some kids were spending more and more chasing this elusive card that actually did not exist. No one even knew who was suppose to be on this mystery card.
It became a big enough issue that parents felt compelled to write letters to the Goudey company to complain about the gimmick. Even the father of our hobby Jefferson Burdick reportedly received 10 copies himself from Goudey. The company must have received enough of these letters to feel they had to do something. They decided to print card #106 in 1934. They chose Napoleon Lajoie to be depicted on the mystery card. Old Nap last played in 1916. Why exactly Lajoie was picked has been lost to history.
Even though the card was made to complete the ’33 set, the card was printed in ’34 and carries a ’34 copyright. The replacement card was printed on high number ’34 sheets and supposedly were only given out in response to complaint letters. There have been rumors that the card found its way into ’34 Goudey packs but this has never been proven and at this point in history, it will probably never will be. All good legends need some mystery.
If the card was printed on the high number sheets, it would stand to reason that the card is really no more scarce than any ’34 high number. But the card does exist in far fewer numbers. Most likely, the folks at Goudey simply cut the cards, separated them from the ’34 cards and fulfilled the requests. Any cards left were thrown out. If any survived until the dumping of Goudey material in the 1960s is unknown.
The ’33 Goudey Lajoie remains one of the most important cards in our hobby. It has been reprinted countless times since at least the 1970s. I have seen fakes in giant 1″ screwdowns at flea markets and card shops alike over the years. Because of its rarity, any time you come across this card, be suspect.
But don’t lose all hope. Chances are, there’s a real one still lurking out there that once made its way from Boston in the U.S. Mail to an upset set collector.
Signed copies now available!