1940 Gum, Inc. : Superman Gum (R145)


Superman Gum first appeared in late 1940 with a series of 72 adventure-story cards printed by Jacob Warren Bowman's Gum, Inc. in Philadelphia.
1940 Gum, Inc. Superman
The penny packs contain one full-color picture card and a slab of "super bubble gum." The American Card Catalog reference is R145. The cards are approximately 2.5 x 3.125 inches, smaller than a standard trading card. Cards 49-72 received a shorter print run and limited distribution in 1941.
1940 Gum, Inc. Superman #1
Superman Gum is often credited as the first super hero trading card product, but the Superman Candy & Surprise cards precede this release. A 50-card series for Tarzan of the Apes: The Crystal Vault of Isis was released by the Schutter-Johnson Candy Corporation in 1934. Other heroes such as Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and Popeye the Sailor Man appeared in card sets throughout the 1930s.
1940 Gum, Inc. Superman #4 - Peril In The Jungle
Twelve images and stories from the Gum, Inc. series were first printed in the Leader Novelty candy collection. Superman Gum was announced on the second series of Play Ball cards released in the fall of 1940. The high-series cards numbered 121-180 include six different Superman Gum ads. Comic book advertisements for Superman Gum appeared in Superman #8, on sale November 8, 1940, and Action Comics #32, on sale November 22, 1940.
Superman #8, January-February 1941
The story text on card #1 contains an early appearance of the name "Kal-el" [sic] and it is highly sought-after by collectors. The same art and text was printed on card #33 in the Superman Candy & Surprise set.
1940 Gum, Inc. Superman #1 (Back)
The illustrations are by Fred Ray. Fred Ray began working at National Allied Publications in the fall of 1940, providing artwork for a 6-page "Radio Squad" script by Jerry Siegel. The panels are similar to Ray's work for "Superman's Super-Contest" featured in Action Comics from May to July of 1941.
1940 Gum, Inc. Superman #39 - Disaster At The Mine1940 Gum, Inc. Superman #37 - Distress At Sea
World War II paper and supply shortages would force Gum, Inc. to temporarily suspend production and Superman cards moved to bread products. In 1944, Gum, Inc. rebranded as Bowman Gum, Inc. In June 1948, a former Bowman chemist began selling a new brand of Superman gum with the Fo-Lee Gum Corp. The Bowman brand was acquired by Topps in 1956.
1940 Gum, Inc. : Superman Gum Case1940 Gum, Inc. : Superman Gum Case
1940 Gum, Inc. Superman #38 - Marooned In The Clouds [PSA 2]

In 1977, a perforated reprint of card #12, "Superman's Arch Enemy," was published by Nostalgia Press.
The Great Old Bubble Gum Cards and Some Cigarette Cards by Woody Gelman and Len Brown includes reprints of other Gum, Inc. releases.
1977 The Great Old Bubble Gum Cards - Superman Gum1977 The Great Old Bubble Gum Cards - Superman Gum (Back)


In 1984, a limited edition reprint set containing all 72 cards was produced by WTW Productions. The 1984 reissue is printed on modern white cardstock with red and blue text.
1984 WTW Productions - Superman Gum Reprint - 1


Card #6, "Superman vs. Bank Robbers," was featured on the cover of Non-Sport Update dated January/February 2016.
Non-Sport Update Vol 29 No 6 Dec Jan 2016


A partial collection of Superman Gum cards was appraised on an episode of Antiques Roadshow that first aired on January 21, 2019.
Antiques Roadshow - Superman Gum - 01-21-2019


According to the wrapper, "Super-gum is a good, big, husky chew with a delicious flavor. Chewing it helps to keep teeth strong and healthy. Dentists recommend this type of gum for young folks." The wrappers included an application coupon to join the Supermen of America Club. Membership was obtained by submitting 5 wrappers and 10 cents by mail.
1940 Gum, Inc. Superman Gum - Supermen of America Prizes

The checklist consists of 72 base cards.

1940 Gum, Inc. : Superman Gum (R145)
1 Superman
2 The Spy Trail
3 From the Jaws of Death
4 Peril in the Jungle
5 The Girl Reporter’s Danger
6 Superman vs. Bank Robbers
7 The Averted Train Wreck
8 Rescue at the Bank
9 Superman at the Circus
10 Fury of the Sea
11 Capture of the Kidnapers
12 Superman’s Arch Enemy
13 Teeth of Steel
14 Maniac at Large
15 Panic in the Subway
16 Mountain Tragedy
17 Death on the Speedway
18 Prison Break
19 Wings of Mercy
20 Peril at Sea
21 The Runaway Horse
22 Wolves at Bay
23 Hurtling to Destruction
24 Attacked by Sharks
25 Trapped in the Air
26 Log Jam Peril
27 Rescue from a Rocky Reef
28 The Flames of Doom
29 Death Dive
30 Trapped in the Glacier
31 Rescue Beneath the Sea
32 Danger on High
33 The Avalanche
34 Peril in the Oil Fields
35 Hurricane Horror
36 Facing the Firing Squad
37 Distress at Sea
38 Marooned in the Clouds
39 Disaster at the Mine
40 Racing the Shells
41 Roller Coaster Rescue
42 Danger in the Jungle
43 Fight in Mid-Air
44 Disaster at the Circus
45 The Runaway Ship
46 To the Rescue
47 Horror Beneath the Sea
48 Death in the Air
49 Danger at the Carnival
50 At the Bottom of the Sea
51 Superman vs. the Spies
52 Saving the Destroyer
53 The Girl Reporter
54 Rescue from the Flames
55 Superman Wins Again
56 Superman and the Killer-Whale
57 Battling the Hurricane
58 A Near-Tragedy
59 The Dive of Death
60 Menace in the Mine
61 Through the Mine Field
62 Peril in the Presses
63 Terror in the Tower
64 Adventure on an Iceberg
65 The Runaway Trolley Car
66 Danger at the Dam
67 Explosion in an Oil Field
68 Saved by Superman
69 Saved from Burial Alive
70 Danger in the North Woods
71 Trapped in Quicksand
72 Superman vs. Torpedo



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