In 1940, Gum, Inc. released Superman Gum cards featuring the comic book hero who first appeared a few years earlier in Action Comics #1. Superman Gum was issued in a series of 72 cards, with the final 24 "high numbers" being the most difficult to obtain. They were a hit with youngsters just as the comic book sensation was. A quarter century later, in 1965, Topps released another Superman issue – this time, a single 66-card series based upon the television series featuring George Reeves as Superman.
The original Superman cards from 1940 have been extremely popular the past few years, as high grade examples have regularly traded for hundreds, and even thousands of dollars. The first card in the set is the most valuable, due to the fact that it features Superman himself, there aren't that many examples available, and that the first cards in a set have always been susceptible to the most wear and tear. There are just over 100 known examples of this #1 card in the hobby today, with the highest graded example being a PSA 8 (NM/MT). The PSA 8 example has never sold in a public auction, so it is hard to estimate what the realized price would be today, but we're thinking it would be close to $10,000! Only five examples have been encapsulated by PSA in Near Mint condition, and the most recent sale of that card allegedly sold in 2013 for a Super price of $8,520! Perhaps an anomaly, but even so, the card in Near Mint condition should easily be valued at $2,000 or more. Even low-graded examples of this card are worth a few hundred bucks. It's easily one of the best non-sports cards in the hobby!
The high-numbers (#49 to #72) are about twice as hard to find than the rest of the cards in the set, because they were printed in lower quantities, and some even believe that they were only test marketed in certain regions. This has created a great demand for these "common" cards regardless of condition. For example, card #66 "Danger At The Dam" recently sold in a PSA 6 for close to $1,700, whereas the low number cards in the same condition regularly sell for only a few hundred, if that.
We very seldom come across the original 1940 set, maybe once every five years or so. Which is why at the 2014 National Sports Card Convention, we were so shocked to find two, yes TWO, near-complete sets available for sale... which we just had to purchase! You can read about that amazing find here: "The Man Of Steel Collection".
Batman, who first appeared in DC's Detective Comics #27 in 1939, didn't make a cardboard appearance until Topps released a series of Batman cards depicting both the comic book hero and the television series featuring Adam West as Batman. Topps issued five different Batman series in 1966 including, Batman (a 55 cards set also known as Black Bat because of the Black Bat logo on the front of the card), Series A (a series of 44 cards also known as Red Bat), Series B (44 cards also known as Blue Bat), Bat Laffs (55 cards) and Batman Riddles (38 cards). The Bat logo series were comic art designed by Norman Saunders. The Bat Laffs and Riddler were live action set depicting photos from the television series. In 1989, Topps reissued a factory set of the three illustrated sets (143 cards).
Just like the Superman set, the #1 card in the 1966 Batman set is the most valuable card. It features a stunning image of the Dark Knight on a bright, bold, red background. The card is also rare and usually found in low-grade, so any card above the EX threshold is highly sought after, which has also created a demand for high-grade examples. There are less than 400 examples of this card in existence, and zero of them have ever been found in Gem Mint condition. The highest graded example is a PSA 9, and there are about ten of those floating around the hobby. A PSA 9 example has never sold at auction, but based off of PSA 8 sales, we can confidently say that it would be worth close to $1,500! If you are in the market for this card, but are not looking to break the bank, you can easily pick up a nice looking "collector grade" one for under $100.
Widely collected, both Superman and Batman cards have long been staples in the non-sport sector of the hobby, and have had wide appeal with sports card collectors as well.
In the upcoming movie "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" depicting the battle between the super heroes, Ben Afleck stars as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor while Amy Adams returns as Lois Lane and Diane Lane reprises her role as Martha Kent, respectively. The film will also depict the first portrayals of comic book staples Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg in a live action film.
Fearing the actions of Superman are being left unchecked, Batman decides to take on the Kryptonian, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really wants and really need. While Batman and Superman are busy fighting each other, Doomsday, a new threat created by Lex Luthor, threatens the world. It's up to Superman and Batman to set aside their differences and along with Wonder Woman, work together to stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying Metropolis.
Whether rooting for the Dark Knight (and no, we're not talking about Gotham's Matt Harvey) or the Man of Steel, we're sure that this release will rekindle interest in Superman and Batman cards. Just like when a sports player makes the national news, we expect these cards to pick up over the next month or so, in terms of the volume of cards being sold, and also the prices!
We're not sure who will win or whether Batman cards will catch up to Superman cards, but we can't wait to see what happens next!
Contact the experts at Just Collect, Inc. today
Have more questions about either of these two sets? Give us a call today to discuss! We'll be glad to answer any questions you may have. We are also very interested in buying a 1940 Gum Inc. Superman set, and are willing to pay upwards of $15,000 for one in high-grade! So, if you have one for sale, contact us now! We always provide free appraisals on all vintage sports and non-sports collections.