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1938 R123 Dietz "Seal-Craft Gum & Seals" Box
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $2,115
Display box for Seal-Craft Chewing Gum and Seals, issued by the Dietz Gum Company of Chicago, Illinois, containing approximately 64 colorfully wrapped pieces of gum, approximately sixty cardboard seals (beautifully produced round cards), and a large-format (16.5 x 11 inches) window display. (The manner in which the items were packed in the display box, randomly mixed together on cardboard sheets that were then layered on top of one another, for a total of five separate tiers, makes an accurate count of the items difficult, especially since we did not want to compromise the integrity of the piece any more than we had to in order to properly describe it.) As with most gum products from the era, the marketing emphasis here was heavy on the premium: a Seal-Craft cardboard seal. The colorful cardboard discs (2.25 inches in diameter), designated R123 in the standard reference works, are each numbered on the reverse and were intended to be linked together by rubber bands to create any number of novel accessories (i.e., a belt, necklace, apron, etc.). According to Christopher Benjamin, author of the definitive work The Sport Americana Price Guide to the Non-Sports Cards 1930-1960, 240 different Seal-Craft seals were issued, with the subject matter of each seal neatly separated into one of seven categories: Animals (36), Air Insignias (48), Colleges Seals (36), Dog Breeds (24), Flags (24), Indians (48), and Pirates (24). Almost all of the information provided by Benjamin is related to the alternate distribution method of the seals: sold through stores in envelopes containing three uncut sheets of seals, six seals to a sheet. Benjamin (who of course did not have the benefit of this unopened box discovery) was unaware that the seals were also sold individually over the counter with gum, and he states in the book that "The Seal-Craft series of 240 discs was never issued with gum or candy." As this newly discovered find shows, this is not accurate. According to the standard price guides, none of the seals appears to be any more valuable than the others, so we will simply state that the approximately sixty seals offered here include examples from all seven categories. Both the duo-tone back-panel display on the box, and the store-window poster that also accompanies, make special note of all the different accessories that can be created by linking the seals together. Apparently, the seals were an extremely popular marketing tool for Dietz ("The Newest Hobby of All"), and they became a fad among children. Benjamin writes that they were so popular that "the series was picked up as a promotion by local newspapers across the country who 'personalized' the discs with their respective logos and envelopes." The box lid bears the black-ink notation "Received 5-10-38." The box (10 x 7.5 x 2) has serious imperfections (including the loss of all side flaps, some present but separate, and numerous tears) but the display back panel that is of higher-quality cardboard is in Very Good condition with one surface tear related to a stuck rubber band. (It should be noted that the package originally contained rubber bands for the kids to use. All of the rubber bands have since hardened and are broken apart. Some of those broken rubber band parts have become adhered to pieces of gum and seals, which in turn has resulted in a few of the pieces becoming stuck, either to each other, or to the layered cardboard sheets.) The window display, printed on thin paper stock, has a few small tears, as well as an adhered seal on the reverse. This is a particularly fascinating and unusual box with the contents of approximately 124 items (approximately 60 Seals and 64 colorfully wrapped pieces of gum) looking exactly as they did when they were originally shipped by Dietz Gum to the distributor in 1938. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $2,115
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