By Lynne Baranski
April 07, 1980 12:00 PM

They look and feel like any other trading cards, with two differences: no smell of gum and no guys. These “supersisters,” the latest set of American kids’ favorite collectibles-flippables-tradables, are the first all-female trading cards. The original 72-woman sets are such a hit with girls and boys alike that a second is on the way with new names possibly including Julia Child and Beth Heiden. Remarkably, the 11-month-old enterprise could be in the black by this summer.

The bubblegum-less wonders range in recognition from Bella Abzug to Bonni Tiburzi, the first woman airline pilot; in age from Helen Hayes, 79, to gymnast Jackie Cassello, 14; and in achievement from surf champ Laura Lee Ching to Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Maxine Kumin.

Supersisters is the creation of real sibs Barbara Egerman, 34, of Ridgefield, Conn. and Lois Rich, 39, of Irvington, N.Y., 40 minutes west. When Lois’ 9-year-old, Melissa, an avid card collector, asked why there weren’t any girl cards, Lois and Barbara asked neighborhood kids to name five famous women. “All they could come up with,” says Lois, “were Presidents’ wives, Cheryl Tiegs and whoever was popular on TV.” So the entrepreneurs compiled a list of 500 “women of achievement,” wrote them to request pictures and bios and ordered cards printed on the first 72 who answered. Lois’ husband, Vic, a CPA, and Barbara’s pharmacist husband, Michael, pitched in with the collating.

An initial run for local schools so delighted kids and teachers that 10,000 sets were printed for mail order (all 72 for $6 or 15 for $1). Lois contends the cards are “female, not necessarily feminist,” but Barbara, a staunch ERA supporter, says, “I’ll convert anyone I can. The cards give the message that girls can be anything they want to be.”

Not all supersisters were super-cooperative. Many, including Jane Fonda, never answered; some, including TV’s Shari Lewis and NOW president Eleanor Smeal, wouldn’t give their ages (Lewis is 46, Smeal 40). And many flatly refused to take part. Why? Replied an East Coast syndicated columnist: “I couldn’t stand the thought of not being traded.”