Among vintage gum card collectors, this is considered one of the most desirable sets to obtain, not only because of its scarcity but because the cards are so aesthetically pleasing: a fun subject, illustrated in the Ripley style and with interesting text on the back.
Ripley's Believe It Or Not! was an extremely popular syndicated feature in the early part of the 20th century. It basically consisted of one or more illustrations, with brief accompanying text, of some amazing fact or event or person. While some of Ripley's work may have been debunked in the intervening years, the man could say that he never quite claimed it was all true: believe it, he told us, or not.
The card fronts offer a full-color illustration surrounded by a white border. The top of the card gives the set title along with Robert L. Ripley's famous signature. Within the illustration, also in color, is a brief line of text about the subject depicted. The card number lies in a white circle to the lower right.
The card backs give the card caption and number, and then a solid block of text about the subject depicted. At the bottom lies the copyright matter and the tag line, 'Watch for more of these Exciting Believe It Or Not Cards for your Collection.'
Note: This card set was released in 2 series of 24 cards each, and it is widely accepted that the 2nd series, #'s 25 through 48, are more difficult to find and thus command a higher price.
The American Card Catalog reference number for this series is R21.
Value: Individual cards in this set, in Excellent condition, can be worth between $20.00 and $60.00 each, depending on which series it falls into. A full set of 48 cards may command as much as $2,000.00 to $3,000.00.