Net 54 - Detecting Alterations in Goudey Cards
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Detecting Alterations in Goudey Cards
The 1933 Goudey baseball set is one of the most widely-collected sets in the hobby. The colorful, 240-card set features a plethora of Hall of Famers, and multiple cards of the era�s most popular players. The Goudey Gum company issued several other popular sets throughout the 1930s, each of which ranks among the most important prewar sets among today's collectors.

Like many other prewar issues, trimming in Goudeys is a major and widespread issue. Thick stock and size variances make Goudeys particularly susceptible to this type of alteration. Due to the popularity and wide availability of most Goudeys today, it is important for collectors to understand how to identify the most common forms of trimming. As always, knowledge is the best way to protect yourself. In past issues of SGC Collector, I have covered some of the ways to detect trimming in the T205 and T206 issues. Many of the basic things to look for are covered in those articles, but to reiterate some of them, it's important to look for waviness, overly white edges, uneven edges, and cards that are undersized.

Like with any other card, the best tools to use are a dark room, a 100-watt halogen lamp, and a 7-power jeweler�s loupe.

For the most part, Goudey cards (including the 1933 Sport Kings) were all cut the same way between 1933 and 1938, and therefore trimming detection is fairly straightforward. Originally they were likely cut with a machine that worked with a guillotine-type of effect that produces a distinctive edge. The typical Goudey has a flat edge - upon close examination, �striations� can be seen in the grain of the card (see image). A striation is a faint, diagonal �hash� mark.

For reference purposes, other cards of the era were cut a similar way, with similar effect - notably the 1932 U.S. Caramel cards and the 1934-36 Diamond Stars. Playballs, however, were cut differently, so it is important not to use these methods when examining 1939-41 Playballs.

Similar to T206s, the front of Goudey cards generally have, under magnification, a pronounced bevel. The bevel is virtually always found along the top edge, and usually along the left edge (although sometimes it can be found along the right edge). Depending on where the uncut sheet of cards was placed in the stack when cut, the bevel could be very heavy and pronounced, or less so (see image). It is essential, however, that you see some type of bevel - the absence of one is a bad sign, and, generally speaking, if there is no bevel along the top of the card, it has most likely been trimmed.

Examining the grain on the edge of a Goudey card is probably the most simple way to detect trimming. As described above, the grain should be flat and have the aforementioned striations present. Typically, a trimmed Goudey will have a grainy or fluffy look to it - one that is very similar to the type of grain that you might see on an early Topps card. Occasionally, it is possible for the grain of the card to be further altered to the point where the fluffiness disappears, so it is possible to try and recreate the look of a natural edge.

The reverse of the card is fairly simple to examine, and useful in the detection of trimming. The left, right, and bottom edges are usually flat, with no specific attributes that are specific to the edges. The top edge on the back of the card, however, should have minor chipping along the edge (see image below). This chipping is almost always present, and the absence of it is a bad sign, and chances are good that the card has been trimmed.


The 1933 low number series (#1-40 and #45-48), and the 1934 high number series (#73-96) were produced on different paper stock than the rest of the sets. Due to this, the grain on the edges of these cards can sometimes have a slightly different look than the rest of the cards. For comparison purposes, I have included some images of untrimmed 1933 low numbers and 1934 high numbers - you can see that the cuts on these are not quite as crisp as the typical Goudey cut. Therefore, do not be alarmed if you examine the grain on these and find differences.

The natural edges on 1938 Goudey and 1933 Sport Kings should appear similar to the �standard� 1933 and 34 Goudey issues.

To summarize, the best ways to examine Goudey cards for the most common types of trimming include checking for waviness, overly white or uneven edges. Look under a halogen light and magnification to find a flat edge with faint striations, and look for a pronounced bevel on the top and left (sometimes right) edge. Look for slight chipping along the top edge on the card�s reverse. Lastly, under magnification, the edges should not appear grainy or fluffy. And don't forget - the low number 1933 Goudeys and high number 1934 Goudeys have differences in paper stock that often result in a slightly different appearance.