Pirate Cards (Leaf)

Pirate Cards Leaf Gum Co. released this Pirate Cards set in 1948. There were 49 cards in the set, each measuring 2-3/8" by 2-7/8".

Okay, so Leaf's Pirate Cards series doesn't carry the most attractive artwork of pirate-themed trading card sets. And it may not have carried the highest production values, given the poor printing collectors have noted on specific cards from this set. But what it does have is, um... um... wait, what were we talking about?

Anyway, this is an attractive vintage card set that can (given its age) be found for a relatively low price. It may not shine when stacked up against sets like Pirate Picture Gum or even Pirates Bold in terms of aesthetics or dollar value, but that's okay. It's still a fun set to collect.

The card fronts feature a color image with a band at the bottom, surrounded by a thick white border. (Note: This is similar to the 1949 Leaf baseball cards and 1948 boxing cards.) The name of the character pictured is contained within the band. The card backs give the card number and the character name at the top, followed by a block of text about the character. At the bottom is the line 'Pirate Bubble Gum' and an ad for one of several items, including a club membership, some pirate-related trinkets, and an album in which to hold the complete set of cards.

Note: Leaf skip-numbered this series, which means that the card numbers do not match up in sequence; in fact, the card numbers go up to #168; but it is widely known that there is only about 49 cards in this set. ('About' 49 because there may in fact be an ultra-rare 50th card somewhere, as there is with Leaf's 1948 boxing card set.) This was done to keep kids buying packs in the hopes of getting the missing numbers.

Note: There are printing defects and variations that are rife with this set, including out-of-focus images, blank card backs, cards without numbers, etc. While the variations may command a premium in price, the defects often do not among collectors.

Note: A cache of these cards was found about 20 years ago, so that despite their vintage, these cards may not be as difficult to find as other contemporary card issues.

The American Card Catalog reference number is R790.

Value: Individual cards from this set, in Excellent condition, can command a price of about $6.00, with certain more famous personages commanding slightly more. A full set of 49 cards can cost as much as $300.00 to $400.00.