Last week I wrote an article called Post War Baseball Card Superlatives. I said that the best looking three year run of post-war baseball cards was 1950, 1951, and 1952 Bowman.
I think 1952, 1953, and 1954 Topps is the runner up for comparison’s sake, but 1954 Topps sets the run back too far to me. If this were a two-year run, 1950-1951 Bowman against 1952-1953 Topps would be quite a competition.
Back to the main topic. While I believe the 1950-1952 Bowman run is the best-looking, there are a few other reasons to be a fan of this era of post-war cards. But first, some basic background.
The 1950 Bowman set has 252 cards without having any pesky high numbers; the first 72 cards are considered slightly tougher though. It was a trendsetter using colorful prints and putting managers on cards. The set features Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson. There are also approximately 50k PSA graded 1950 Bowman cards in the population.
The 1951 Bowman set had more cards, 324, and the cards had larger dimensions. There are nearly 91k PSA graded cards in the 1951 Bowman population report, and the set features Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle’s rookie cards.
The 1952 Bowman set is nostalgic but often overlooked since the cards are very similar in look to the 1951 Bowmans. The high numbers (cards 217-252) are tough, and I feel the facsimile autographs are really cool. Nearly 70k PSA graded 1952 Bowmans exist today.
And now, to the list of 5 reasons to collect the 1950-1952 Bowman Baseball sets.
The full hand-painted reproductions of black and white photos inside the white borders are just incredible. These sets are real works of art and are incredible to display. The 1952 Bowman Stan Musial is considered one of the best looking cards of all-time.
2. Star Power
The 1950 Bowman set features Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson. The 1951 set features Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. And the 1952 set, while challenging to compete with its 1951 predecessor, still has an incredible Mickey Mantle, the Musial mentioned above, and an endless string of high-end stars.
The colorful prints in 1950 and 1951 certainly influenced the iconic 1952 Topps set. The sets also featured managers for the first time, had interesting write-ups on the backs, and set the tone with larger set sizes.
The set side and quantity made means you can still get your hands on these sets. Additionally, while high-end vintage has undoubtedly exploded in price, mid-grade cards from this era (think PSA 4-6) have incredible eye appeal. These sets also aren’t as massive an undertaking as the 407 cards required to complete a 1952 Topps basic set or the 660 needed for a 1973 Topps set.
5. Amazing First Cards (#1s)
The 1950 Bowman Mel Parnell is an excellent first card, 1951 Bowman had Whitey Ford leading off the set, and 1952 Bowman featured the legendary Yogi Berra on card #1.
Do you collect these sets? What are your favorite cards from this early Bowman run? Let me know in the comments or over on Twitter.