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16K Hammer - 1933 Bubble Gum Wrapper & New Discovery – Hockey Is HOT !!

Updated: Apr 1

Despite recent record sales in the hobby, hockey typically goes unnoticed in terms of overall hobby  appeal and/or price. However, the 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee (Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card Year) case,  which just sold for a whopping $4.72 million, has drawn a lot of attention to the world of hockey  cards and collectibles. 



The 1933-34 Canadian Chewing Gum hockey card wrapper's recent historical hobby record price  of $16,203.60 USD (with buyer's premium) does not appear to be attracting the same attention.  This was for a single wrapper, with a significant number of tears, and if my memory serves me well,  no other single wrapper ever achieved this monetary milestone in any sport, or non-sports for that  matter.  



In addition to the aforementioned wrapper sale, another recent auction yielded a fresh discovery  related to this 1933-34 Canadian Chewing Gum set: the mail-away premium "Home Hockey Game",  which will be discussed further in the latter section of this piece. 


Returning to the 1933 Canadian Chewing Gum wrapper, it is demonstrated that your writer has  firsthand knowledge of its journey, from who and where it came from to the path it took before  being offered in the recently concluded Classic Auctions - Historical Hockey and Sports Memorabilia  Auction in November 2023.  


In 1933-34, the Canadian Chewing Gum Company released a set of 50 hockey cards featuring  players from nine different NHL teams. Each card includes a different letter of the alphabet tastefully printed on the lower portion of the front of the card. The purpose of this 50-card set, as  stated on the reverse, was to collect enough of these distinct letters to spell five of the nine NHL  team names and submit them to the company, as which would qualify participants to a free "Home  Hockey Game".  




However, I digress. It has been 20 years, down to the month, since your writer purchased this  particular wrapper. The history would see me obtaining this wrapper from Selby Colson, a  longstanding dealer from outside of Toronto, for $1200 CAD. He had purchased it from former O Pee-Chee president Gary Koreen, who sold Colson just a small portion of his company's previous  stored holdings.  


Who would have guessed that the O-Pee-Chee gum company was the original source of this single  surviving wrapper, which is still the only public one known to exist? As a result, they were clearly  engaged in their competitions offerings, particularly in this inaugural year of hockey gum cards.  


In all honesty, 2004 was a period in the hobby when documentation of wrappers and counter  display boxes was still in its infancy. Your writer collected sealed wax packs and boxes, but not their  wrappers. The underlying motivation for acquiring the wrapper was for its historical value, as  hobby historians frequently do, which led in a 600 dpi, high-resolution scan, and then on its way to  its rightful home in the hands of dedicated collector.  


That dedicated collector who would finally retain this wrapper was Angelo Savelli, "The King of  Cards", a Hamilton born early pioneer of dealing in sports cards in Canada going back to the 1970's.  Angelo and myself were very good hobby friends since the 1990's and I knew he was not just a  well-known dealer, but he likely had one of best collections of vintage hockey cards and collectibles  at that time and started his collecting as a child in 1948. 


Unfortunately, Angelo's health has deteriorated in recent years, necessitating the sale of the  majority of his collection, which established several records for true rarities in the hockey field. At  the time of writing this piece, I learned that my good friend Angelo Savelli passed away; he was  one of hobby's earliest pioneers and will be greatly missed. Rest in peace, dear friend. 


Now let's talk about the new discovery, which comes from the same 1933-34 Canadian Chewing  Gum issue. These cards are frequently regarded as some of the most visually appealing pre-war  cards released, due to their deep rich red hue and inventive design. 


These cards are particularly unique in that, other companies used wrappers to market their  premiums, which were very much supplementary, opposed to the Canadian Chewing Gum's card  set was developed specifically to provide the "Home Hockey Game" premium mail away. These  cards are frequently found with the lower portion cut off and removed, which housed the letters  used just for this premium game redemption.  



Although the game itself was often thought to be, one in the same as the "Maple Leafs Home  Hockey" game which was loosely implied and pictured in my Vintage Hockey Collectors Price Guide  in 2006, although without confirmation. This implication was fully removed in my updated 2015  VHC price guide and is not the associated premium game.  



The Maple Leaf Home Hockey game never sat well with me as being the mail away premium  especially that it was discovered to be advertised in the newspaper for Eaton's Department  Stores in 1933 for $1.00, which would undoubtedly be a lot cheaper and easier method of  acquisition than using the bubblegum cards as a way of pursuit.  



The actual premium Home Hockey Game had finally come to market in the February 2024 Classic  Auction. Funny enough, Angelo had previously remarked to me about a game in a red and white  mailing tube he had, but he wasn't too precise, and knowing that his stuff was going up for sale,  this was definitely what he had described.  




This game was overlooked and not advertised as the premium game in the auction, and only by  utilizing a close zoom in on the rear picture of the tube revealed the Canadian Chewing Gum  Company name, which I saw right away, but if you weren't looking for it, you'd have certainly  missed it.  


The "Home Hockey Game" design bears a striking resemblance to the 1933 "Maple Leaf Home  Hockey" board game. The instructions are the same, and the board game design is identical, the  only exception is that the premium game is made of a kraft-like paper with weighted slatted ends  attached, allowing it to be rolled out to play and then furled back up and stored in the  accompanying mail tube. A kraft-type paper design would have a low survival probability given  that it has been in use for over 90 years; also, children playing an interactive game and with it  being constructed of thick paper does not always meet with sensitive handling. In contrast, the  Maple Leaf Home Game is a packed boardgame, which certainly increases its potential survival  rate. 


Your writer was fortunate enough to acquiring the Home Hockey Game through the auction  company, and we can now portray this one-of-a-kind survivor as being associated directly with this  beautiful card set. As I usually say, "Who wouldn't want to wake up to a treasure hunt every day?  Not me!

Most of the information is found on the vintage hockey website and app: needuum.com


1 comentário


Matthew Glidden
Matthew Glidden
27 de mar.

Great work, Bobby, and that's a striking game board for any era. As much as I love the 1920s and 30s for their creativity, I was also glad to see the shift to wrapper redemptions instead of cutting pieces right off the cards themselves. :-)

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