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Harvard College freshman Benjamin Lee is the winner of the 2014 Hofer Prize for Collecting Books or Art for his assembly of the history, artwork and copyright registration of the 1933 Goudey baseball card set.
Thankfully, he didn’t keep the chewing gum that originally came with it.
The Goudey Gum Company started in Boston in 1919. In 1933, it introduced its first set of collectible baseball cards and became the first company to issue the cards with a stick of bubble gum in each pack. The 1933 set is one of the “Big Three” most valuable classic baseball card collections, along with the 1909-1911 tobacco card set known as “T206” and the 1952 Topps set containing what many consider to be Mickey Mantle’s rookie card.
Lee has been collecting baseball cards since age four. He has 232 of the 240 cards that make up the 1933 set, some of which will be on display in Lamont Library starting this May.
“I love baseball. I’m an Orioles fan. So I liked collecting baseball cards, naturally,” Lee said. He first came across the Goudey cards at a shop in his hometown of Baltimore, which led to his focus on vintage items. “I really liked the artwork on the cards,” he said.
Lee and two runners up were acknowledged at a ceremony on March 25 at Houghton Library prior to the delivery of the Philip Hofer Lecture, “The Qianlong Emperor’s Copper-Plate Engravings” by Getty Research Institute Chief Curator Marcia Reed.