Monday, May 7, 2012

Bowman's '52 baseball plans fell short

In the spring of 1952, Bowman placed an eighth-page ad in several issues of The Sporting News, heralding its forthcoming baseball card issue.

The use of a photographic image of Bobby Thomson on its "sample" card may have been somewhat misleading, in that the company again used color paintings for the cards.

What was plain wrong, however, was the headline that the 1952 set would include more than 400 cards. In reality, the 1952 Bowman baseball set comprised just 252 cards, a decrease of nearly 25% from the company's 324-card issue of 1951.

It seems obvious that Topps' stepping up its own baseball card efforts for 1952, utilizing a much larger format and including more than 400 cards, had an effect on Bowman's issue. Bowman's downsizing probably was due to a combination of sales lost to Topps and contract troubles with the players whom Topps had signed to exclusive bubblegum-card contracts. 

While some unused baseball player paintings that were intended for Bowman cards that year are known to exist, it's interesting to speculate how many of the paintings for the projected 400+ cards were actually begun or completed . . . and where they might be today. 

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