Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Vintage Card Of The Month: 1933 R136 National Chicle Sky Birds

This month’s VCoM comes from National Chicle’s Sky Birds set, which were inserted in to packs of National Chicle Gum, and is designated as R136 1933 National Chicle Sky Birds. The company went bankrupt before the end of the 1930s but between 1933 and 1936 (I know, not a long time) they produced some of the most desired cards of the decade both in sports and non-sports releases. The Sky Birds set was brought back to life by Goudey Gum in 1941 but that set was built around the planes only, no pilots were included.
The Sky Birds set was a multi-year continuous skip number set, the checklist states there are 144 cards in the release but there are actually only 108 cards. I am not sure if they did this intentionally or if they planned to release another year with the remaining 36 cards but canceled production once they started having money troubles. In 1933 cards 1-24 were released and in 1934 cards 25-108 were released.
The set was designed around famous pilots plus 25 planes. Some of the pilots on the checklist; Eddie Rickenbacker (America’s first Ace in WWI), Orville Wright and Roy Brown (The man “officially” credited with shooting down the Red Baron though often debated) Some of the planes on the checklist; Sopwith Camel (the plane made famous by Snoopy in his battle with the Red Baron) and the Spirit of Saint Louis.
I have been a World War I history buff for most of my life so I was drawn to the connection with this set. I picked up this Max Immelmann (It is misspelled on the card front but correctly on the card back) because of his historical significance. He is best known for the Immelmann Turn, a turning maneuver he designed so he could immediately change positions to attack another victim after shooting down an enemy aircraft. It is no longer used as a combat maneuver but it is still used by jet pilots today so they can make tactical turns at high speed.
Additionally, Immelmann was Germany’s first ace and was credited with 15 victories before his death in June 1916. He was the first German pilot to ever be awarded the Pour le Merite, Germany’s highest military honor. The award has since been known as the Blue Max Cross in his honor. He is actually shown wearing the Blue Max Cross in this illustration.
The card is seriously distressed, there are creases, bends and it is peeling around the edges. It actually looks like a small animal took a bite out of the top right corner. It is pure ugly, but a beautiful ugly. There is a personality to cards this damaged.


  1. Those have always been on my radar but I've never found one I wanted in my price range. Nice!