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1935 R72 Schutter-Johnson "I'm Going To Be" #4 Strong Man - Legendary Rarity and Only Known Surviving Example!

  • Sold For: $22,515
  • Year: 1930
  • Auction: 2014 spring
  • Lot #: 1702
  • Auction Category: Non-Sports Cards/Sheets/Card Artwork

Presented is one of nonsport-card collecting's most legendary rarities: #4 Strong Man from the R72 Schutter-Johnson "I'm Going To Be" series. Issued by the Schutter-Johnson Candy Corporation with its products during the 1930s, these colorful cards depict various occupations on front, ranging from traditional (Policeman and Fireman) to farfetched (Pirate and Gold Miner), along with a description of the job and redemption offer on reverse. A complete set of twenty-five cards could be redeemed for a baseball mitt, wristwatch, or a pair of roller skates, all very expensive prizes for the era, and very likely the reason that the Strongman card was severely short-printed in an effort to make prize redemptions virtually impossible. According to the offer, anyone sending in a complete set of twenty-five cards would receive not only their choice of prize but also their set returned, postage paid, with the free gift. The example presented here undoubtedly belonged to one of the very few lucky youngsters who was able to collect all twenty-five cards and then take Schutter-Johnson up on its offer. In the 1930s this marketing tactic was utilized by a number of different card manufacturers and is responsible for some of the great rarities in both sport and nonsport card collecting. The card has been stamped "VOID" in bold purple lettering and has also been punch-canceled in five spots, making it impossible that anyone would be able to reuse this short-print to gain another free gift from the company. Encapsulated by PSA as "Authentic," the card presents as Vg-Ex without respect to the punch holes or stamping. It is bright and crisp with bold colors, no creases or wrinkles, even wear to the four corners, and centered to the right. The reverse is entirely clean and boldly printed. No other examples of this rarity have ever been authenticated by PSA or SGC, and many serious nonsport-card collectors believe that the offered example is the only authentic one to survive. A number of reprints have surfaced over the years but all are copies produced from this very card, as all the punch marks and other identifying characteristics match up. (The reprints were obviously made as a service to collectors, to allow collectors something to fill in their sets, not to fool anyone.) Our consignor has had this card in his possession for over two decades (he believes since 1980!) as the highlight of his nonsport-card collection. When it comes to famous nonsport rarities, the Strong Man card has not received quite as much publicity as some other well-known nonsport rarities, such as the R114 U.S. Caramel Presidents William McKinley or the R172 Gum, Inc., "Wild West" #25 Cowboy Outfit, (or the few similar rarities in the baseball-card world, such as the famous R328 "Lindy" Lindstrom), but this is only because one has never been available for sale or auction. It is a legendary rarity (some have doubted it really exists) that for decades has been recognized by advanced collectors as one of nonsport-card collecting's most elusive holy grails. For comparison, PSA and SGC together have graded five examples of the R114 McKinley, four examples of the R172 Cowboy Outfit, and even two examples of what is considered to the world's first tobacco-insert and nonsport card, the N519 Marquis of Lorne. Each one of these cards sells for thousands of dollars (sometimes many, many thousands) when offered for sale and is universally highly prized by the most serious collectors and scholars of the field. Because of the Strong Man's uniqueness, there is, of course, no price history or consensus regarding the value of this card. We are confident the auction process will provide clarity. We have heard of the legendary famous Strongman card for decades but have never come close to actually seeing one, let alone offering an example. It is a special privilege for REA to offer, and in the process to formally document the existence of an authentic Strong Man card, perhaps the only surviving example. This may literally be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire one of the true holy grails of nonsport-card collecting: the legendary Strong Man card from the classic R72 Schutter-Johnson set. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $22,515

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