1940 Superman Gum Adventure-Story Cards

1940 Superman Gum Adventure-Story Cards

1940 Gum, Inc. : Superman Gum (R145)

Superman Gum first appeared in the autumn of 1940 with a series of adventure-story cards printed by Bowman's Gum, Inc. in Philadelphia. The penny packs each 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. Superman Gum is often credited as the first Superman trading card series, but the Superman Candy & Surprise cards precede this release.

1940 Gum, Inc. : Superman #1

Superman Gum was announced on the second series of Play Ball cards released in the fall of 1940. The high-series Play Ball cards numbered #121–180 include six different Superman Gum ads. Newspaper advertisements for Downy Flake Donuts offered free Superman Gum and cards as early as October 3, 1940.

1940 Gum, Inc. : Superman #4 - Peril In The Jungle

Comic book advertisements for Superman Gum appeared in Superman #8, on sale November 8, 1940, and Action Comics #32, on sale November 22, 1940. The Superman premium prize brochure from Gum, Inc. is dated November 1940.

Superman #8 (January-February 1941)

Twelve images and stories from the Gum, Inc. series were first printed in the Leader Novelty candy collection. The story text on card #1 contains the first appearance of the name spelled as "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 series.

1940 Gum, Inc. : Superman #1 (Back)

The card artwork is by Fred Ray, known for illustrating patriotic Superman covers during World War II. Fred Ray began working at National Allied Publications in the fall of 1940, providing artwork for a six-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 1941.

1940 Gum, Inc. : Superman #39 - Disaster At The Mine

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 gum wrappers could be exchanged by mail for premiums that included the Superman Krypto-Raygun toy from Daisy, a wooden Superman doll from Ideal, and the first Superman Playsuit. The premiums were previously sold at Macy's Toyland.

Gum, Inc. Supermen of America Prize Brochure - November, 1940

Each wrapper contains a membership application to join the Supermen of America Club. For five wrappers plus the normal ten cent application fee, new members could chose between a brass "Supermen of America Member" ring or a cloisonné "Superman American" pin badge. The badge was rewarded for free for recruiting ten new members.

Superman Junior Defense League of America - Bread Premium Pinback Badge

During World War II, latex supplies were diverted to the defense effort, sugar was being rationed to households, and paper scrap drives were held to salvage pulp. Gum, Inc. temporarily suspended production and Superman cards moved to bread products for the Superman Junior Defense League of America. In March 1944, Gum, Inc. rebranded as Bowman Gum, Inc. In June 1948, a former Bowman chemist announced a new brand of Superman Bubble Gum with the Fo-Lee Gum Corp. The Bowman brand was acquired by Topps Chewing Gum in 1956.

1940 Gum, Inc. : Superman #47 - Distress at Sea

In 1977, a perforated reprint of card #12, "Superman's Arch Enemy," was included in a punch-out book 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 Gum 1977 The Great Old Bubble Gum Cards : Superman Gum

From 1983–1985, WTW Productions reissued popular card sets from Gum, Inc. and Bowman. In 1984, WTW reprinted the entire 72-card Superman Gum series on modern white cardstock with red and blue text.

1984 WTW Productions : Superman Gum Reprint - #1

Since 1987, the Smithsonian Institution has archived items from Superman Gum and the Supermen of America Club. Cards, wrappers, and premiums are cataloged in the Entertainment collection of The National Museum of American History.

Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, c. 1940

Card #6, "Superman vs. Bank Robbers," was featured on the cover of Non-Sport Update dated December/January 2019.

Non-Sport Update vol. 29, no. 6, Dec Jan 2019

A corroded example of the "Supermen of America Member" ring appeared on Pawn Stars in the March 8, 2010, episode "Big Guns." The premium doll appeared in the Pawn Stars episode "Fender Bender" on October 29, 2015. The brass ring and doll are featured as items in Pawn Stars: The Game, released for Android devices in September 2018 by Fifth Column Games. Rick Harrison, owner of Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, and the mobile game incorrectly state that the prize ring is made of steel.

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

Superman Gum Checklist
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

Powered by Blogger.