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5 Reasons to Collect 1950-1952 Bowman Baseball Cards

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.

1950 Bowman #75 Roy Campanella

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.

1951 Bowman #134 Warren Spahn

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.

1952 Bowman #5 Orestes Minoso

And now, to the list of 5 reasons to collect the 1950-1952 Bowman Baseball sets.

1. Art

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.

1952 Bowman #196 Stan Musial

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.

1950 Bowman #98 Ted Williams
1950 Bowman #22 Jackie Robinson
1951 Bowman #252 Mickey Mantle
1951 Bowman #305 Willie Mays
1952 Bowman #101 Mickey Mantle

3. Trendsetting

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.

1950 Bowman #217 Casey Stengel

4. Availability

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.

1952 Bowman #2 Bobby Thomson

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.

1950 Bowman #1 Mel Parnell
1951 Bowman #1 Whitey Ford
1952 Bowman #1 Yogi Berra

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.


  1. […] 1950-52 Bowman baseball cards have been gaining popularity lately. The hashtag #art often accompanies them due to how awesome the hand-painted reproductions of black and white photos look. And last week, I wrote about a 1978 Topps football dealer sheet. Topps sent these specification sheets to dealers to drum up sales and advertise upcoming releases. So what happens when you combine early Bowman cards and something akin to a dealer sheet? One of the coolest collectibles I’ve ever seen. […]

  2. Bini Bini

    Nice article. I’d like to put the ‘48/‘49 leaf cards in the conversation for consideration too.

    • John John

      Thanks for checking out the blog.

    • Charles Charles

      I agree with the author about the beauty of early 1950s Bowman as well as Bini’s comment about ’48/’49 leaf. I think the most beautiful card sets are 1951 and 1952 bowman. Some standouts cards in addition to the ones mentioned above include the 1952 Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Harry Simpson, and Joe Adcock and the 1951 Rizzuto and Campanellas. The Ted Williams and Stan Musial ’48/’49 Leaf cards are pretty amazing too. But my favorite might actually be the George Vico card. No one has ever heard of him, but the colors of his ’48/’49 Leaf card really stand out.

      • John John

        Charles, thanks for the comment. Another card I’ve recently really become a fan of is the 1951 Bowman Snider.

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