Card of the Moment #44
August 21st, 2010 by slangon

1938 Gum, Inc. Horrors of War #29 Tokio Airman Attacks British Envoy

I briefly mentioned this card a few weeks as it was part of what I ended up scoring on eBay after I sold that David Price Pie in the Face SP. Although I was really happy with all the cards that I was able to get in that haul, this one might be my favorite.

There’s several things about this particular piece of cardboard that make me like it. First, it’s old. Although I have a handful of Goudeys and a T206, I don’t have a whole bunch of pre-war era cards, so getting a card from 1938 is pretty damn awesome. Second, it’s a pretty weird subject matter. Baseball themed cards are first and foremost my main focus, but I do like weird stuff. Thirdly, I’m a pretty big history buff, so a card that combines my love of history with sweet 1930’s style cardboard is aces in my book. Lastly, as a guy who grew up reading comic books and watching a boatload of television, I shamefully admit to being visually attracted to the cartoon violence of this card.

So what’s the deal with these Horrors of War cards anyway?

They were put out by Gum, Inc. of Philadelphia. You might know Gum, Inc. as the company that put out the various Play Ball sets from 1939 through 1941. They also put out a bunch of really cool looking non-sport themed sets over the years, including G-Men & Heroes of the Law, American Beauties, The Lone Ranger, Superman, Uncle Sam, Home Defense, War News Pictures and Wild West. At some point between 1942 and 1948, Gum, Inc. became the Bowman Gum Company.

The Horrors of War set appeared in 1938. The set initially consisted of 240 cards depicting scenes from The Second Sino-Japanese War, The Ethiopian War and The Spanish Civil War. Due to the popularity of the set, Gum tried to tack on 48 more cards that showed Germany and the beginnings of World War II, but these particular cards were not as successful and are therefore harder to track down. Supposedly, the idea for the cards was given to Warren Bowman by George Moll, who was a Sunday school teacher and owned the advertising firm that handled the Gum, Inc. account. Their goal was to “teach peace by exposing the horrors of war.” Apparently, being the good ad man that he was, George Moll knew a good slogan when he heard it.

A few Cards of the Moment ago, I had mentioned that I would love to see a book specifically about the Topps Art Department. Well, here’s another free book idea for anyone ambitious enough to follow up on it. I would also love to see a book about the product development teams at these various old card companies. I’m really curious to know if they took minutes at their brain storming meetings and if those minutes survive. I mean, if The Horrors of War was one of the ideas that they decided to green light, I would love to hear some of the ideas that got scrapped.

As I mentioned at the top of this post, one of the reasons that I really like this card is because I’m somewhat of a history buff. Any time I can combine my interest in history with my interest in moldy old cardboard, I’m pretty happy. Although I am fairly familiar with a bit of World War II history, I wasn’t very knowledgeable about the history of the other 3 conflicts represented in this set.

Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen was the British Envoy to China from 1936 to 1939 and was Englands representative in that country at the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. On the fateful day of August 26, Sir Hughe was driving from the capital of Nanjing to Shanghai to visit with the British community there. When he was about 65 miles outside of Shanghai, Japanese planes dropped 4 bombs, all of which missed the diplomats car. Then another plane swept in low and sprayed the car with machine gun fire, severely wounding Knatchbull-Hugessen and several of the other passengers in the automobile.

It’s actually sort of funny that when I was doing research for this post, I was having a little bit of trouble trying to track down any detailed accounts of the “Tokio Airman” attacking the British Envoy. I found plenty of references to it, but they were all just one or two sentence descriptions. The back of this card is one of the more detailed accounts that I was able to find.

One Response to “Card of the Moment #44”

  1. They shouldn’t have been driving with the top down I guess! Those are some awesome cards.

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