Baseball cards were originally issued by tobacco companies in the late 19th century. The first big producers of gum cards were Goudey Gum Company of Boston (1933–41) and Gum, Inc. (1939). After World War II, Gum, Inc.’s successor, Bowman, was the leading manufacturer. Topps, Inc. of Brooklyn, New York, followed. Topps bought Bowman in 1956 and monopolized the field until 1981 when Fleer of Philadelphia and Donruss of Memphis challenged the market.
References: James Beckett, “The Official 2000 Price Guide to Baseball Cards, 19th Edition,” House of Collectibles, 1999; James Beckett and Theo Chen (eds.), “Beckett Baseball Price Guide, Number 20,” Beckett Publications, 1998; Allan Kaye and Michael McKeever, “Baseball Card Price Guide, 1997,” Avon Books, 1996; Bob Lemke (ed.), “1999 Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, 8th Edition,” Krause Publications, 1998; “Sports Collectors Digest, 1999 Baseball Card Price Guide,” 13th Edition, Krause Publications, 1999.
— Harry L. Rinker
“Official Price Guide to Collectibles”