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1940 R145 Gum, Inc., Superman High-Number Uncut Sheet (#49-72)
Starting Bid - $5,000, Sold For - $22,325
Presented is an extraordinary original complete 24-card uncut sheet of 1940 Superman bubble-gum cards, one of nonsport-card collecting's greatest classics. This is a complete production sheet with fully printed backs featuring all twenty-four rare high-number cards from the 1940 R145 Superman third series (cards #49-72). To the best of our knowledge, this is one of only two high-number sheets known to exist. The 72-card Superman set was printed on three 24-card sheets. All uncut gum-card sheets from the 1933-1941 era are extremely rare. Superman sheets are even rarer than Goudey baseball sheets, with fewer than ten examples (possibly as few as five or six) in total known to exist. This sheet has a fascinating hobby history: It was among the highlights of a very exciting group of Gum, Inc., material that "walked in" to the Philadelphia card convention in 1976 (back when the show was held at Spring Garden College before moving to Willow Grove and, years later, Fort Washington). The owner of the material was a former Gum, Inc., employee and he put all of his items in the very popular live auction that was held at the show by the show's promoters (in part to help "walk-ins" sell their material). Everything was very modest in value by today's standards. The prize lot of three uncut Gum, Inc., sheets (two Superman sheets, including this one, plus a 1940 Lone Ranger sheet, offered as a separate lot in the auction) were won by future REA president Robert Lifson for a grand total of $140. Soon after, word of the appearance of these incredible sheets at the show traveled to an advanced nonsport collector and he went to the trouble of tracking down the buyer, who he was able to easily reach by phone (after school let out, of course). A deal was immediately struck. His offer of $300 for the lot was accepted, and he has had them ever since! To us, the story is even more amusing in that the buyer and seller never had any occasion to communicate for the next thirty-four years. It was not until the consignor was making arrangements over the phone with Robert Lifson to send in the first Superman sheet for REA's 2010 auction (the low-number sheet that appeared as Lot 18 in REA's May 2010 auction and sold for $15,275) that something clicked and Robert asked the consignor if he had maybe purchased this sheet along with two others "from a kid in Philadelphia in the 1970s." The answer was yes! The details of the transaction quickly came back to both. After all these years, the sheets had remained in the same collector's hands, and now the low-number Superman sheet (in 2010) and the other two sheets (in 2011) were being sent back for sale at auction! This is an extraordinary sheet in all respects. It has been been perfectly protected all these years and displays beautifully! Bright and crisp, with brilliant colors, and a simply outstanding overall appearance. There is some minor edge and corner wear, a very small moisture stain in the lower right corner of the reverse, and a few surface flaws (possibly related to factory printing) on the backs of five of the cards. The sheet has no creases whatsoever. Most of the interior cards are Nr/Mt. This sheet has a tremendous display value and an extraordinary overall Excellent appearance. Superman high-number cards have always been among the rarest and most highly respected of all 1933-1941 nonsport bubble-gum cards. By any measure, this is one of the best nonsport sheets in existence. This is an extraordinary prize uncut sheet featuring all twenty-four rare high-number cards from Gum Inc.'s classic 1940 Supeman bubble-gum issue, one of the most popular and classic gum-card issues in all of nonsport card collecting. Dimensions: 18.75 x 10 inches. Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000+. SOLD FOR $22,325
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