“To know the HORRORS OF WAR is to want PEACE”
That is printed on the back of every card in the 1938 Horrors of War set produced by Gum Inc. (later Bowman), one of the most highly regarded sets of non-sports cards ever produced.
Dave & Adam’s just came across a large selection of these cards, including a partial set, through a comic book collector. The cards have graphic and detailed depictions of war taking place around the world in the late 1930s.
The initial 240-card set covered several conflicts including, the Spanish Civil War, Ethiopian War and the Chinese-Japanese War. A second series of 48 cards was released later in 1938, which also covered the rise of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler and his threats to peace in Western Europe. The higher numbered cards weren’t as widely collected and are harder to find. The three cards in the set depicting Hitler are the most sought after.
The idea for the set came from Gum’s advertising counsel, George Moll, a Sunday school teacher that wanted to “teach peace by exposing the horrors of war” and company president Warren Bowman. The trading cards were very popular with American youth. Bowman met the demand by printing 100 million cards and raking in profits of $40,000 a week.
Regarded by some at the time of their release as anti-war propaganda and racist towards the Japanese, to others they were useful teaching tools in the days before television and computers. These cards are striking to look it as well as thought-provoking about the message they tried to deliver.