1940 Superman card sells for record $36,250

Gum Inc.'s 1940 Superman #1 ranks as one of top non-sports cards

Cover Image for 1940 Superman card sells for record $36,250
Finding the Gum Inc. cards in good condition is very difficult, making the PSA 6.5 a real rarity. (Credit: Heritage Auctions)

Considered one of the most important non-sports cards in existence, a 1940 Gum Inc. Superman #1 card sold for a record $36,250 at Heritage Auctions on Thursday.

Graded a PSA 6.5, the sale is more than double the previous high for the card in any grade. A PSA 5 copy sold for $13,800 at Robert Edwards Auctions in 2021, while a PSA 7 example sold for $13,394.40 at Mile High in 2020.

The record-setting 6.5 example is population 2 with just seven graded higher. There are currently no PSA 9s or 10s.

The first Superman trading card set made, the 1940 Gum Inc. series is highlighted by card #1. Titled “Superman,” the card showcases the Man of Steel flying with a skyline backdrop. Other cards feature Superman traversing land, sea and air while saving citizens and fighting criminals.

Considered more rare than many of the sports card releases at the time, the 1940 Gum Inc. set is extremely difficult to find in high grades, but boasts colorful artwork with impressive eye appeal.

Cards #1 and #72 have historically been difficult to find in high grades due to aggressive handling and occasional rubber band damage. The high-numbered cards #49 through #72 are also more difficult to find.

Of the 8,830 total cards graded by PSA from the set, only a little more than 1,700 have secured a PSA 6 or better.

The first trading cards for Superman arrived just two years after the hero’s debut in 1938’s Action Comics #1. Considered the important comic book ever produced, a CGC 8.5 copy sold at Heritage in April 2024 for $6 million.

Ben Burrows is a reporter and editor for cllct.