Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bowman had mail-in offer in 1949

In its early years of baseball card production, Bowman was a frequent advertiser in The Sporting News.

For 1949, they began their ad program quite late, the first ad appearing in the paper's All-Star Game special issue dated July 13.

Rather than just introducing its annual issue, as they did in later years, the 1949 Bowman ads in TSN were actually a mail-in promotion offering "25 assorted pictures" for 10 cents and two "outside wrappers" from the company's product, officially branded "Baseball Bubble Gum." The ad didn't specify whether the wrappers had to be from five-card nickel packs or whether they could be from single-card penny packs.

To avoid having you strain your eyes reading the body copy on the Bowman ad reproduced here from a microfilm of the TSN page, I'll spell it out . . . 

What a thrilling collection to own! 240 exciting photo picture cards of American and National League headliners -- ALL IN FULL COLOR! You can get these picture cards only in BASEBALL BUBBLE GUM-- five pictures in every 5-cent package of bubble-blowing chewing delight. Start your collection TODAY by sending 10 cents in coin, plus two outside wrappers from BASEBALL BUBBLE GUM, for 25 assorted pictures. Address: BASEBALL 9 West 61st Street, New York 23, N.Y.

On a related note, I found a tidbit in another 1949 issue that mentioned that at a game in the Polo Grounds during the season, Bowman had given away 5,000 packs of its baseball cards.

The mention didn't say whether they were penny packs or nickel packs. That surely must have been one of the first, if not the first, baseball card stadium giveaways. 

Perhaps they were packs left over at the New York fulfillment house that was handling the Bowman mail-in offer.

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