Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sets in my Collection #24: 1948 Bowman

We finally have come to the sports section of my collection. Not surprisingly, sports cards take up the majority of my collection. Even though I have been an avid collector of non-sports cards, there are simply far more sports cards to choose from, with 3 to 4 times as many sports sets produced...every single year...compared to non-sports sets.

My favorite sport is basketball (It was NASCAR for many years, but no longer) and I have more basketball cards than any other topic - and far more sets than any other topic as well.

One thing I was very much proud of in my first time around with the NBA was that I had at least one of every set issued, or at least, I thought I did. (I discovered when I joined the Database that I had missed two!). I began the project of getting at least one of every set in 1996, and completed it in 1999. Surprisingly, 1948 Bowman was not the last set I found! It was next to last, but I thought it would be the hardest to get. I am currently working on getting that back, but it's going to be more difficult than it was the first time around. Now, there are sets that are ridiculously priced ($1200 for 5 cards) that will be tough to track down. My goal still remains to have at least every set represented in my collection, but I digress.

1948 Bowman is still a rare set, and I have only 7 of the 72 cards, or 9.7%. There is no way I'll ever be able to complete the set, unless I win the lottery. The George Mikan Rookie card literally sells for more than we paid for our car. Percentage wise, I believe this is the least I have of any set from 2004-05 and earlier. (2004-05 was the last year I did a box of every set) Of the 7 cards I have, three of them have been added to my collection since I started collecting the NBA full-time again in 2012. Having access to Ebay, something I did not have the first time around, has changed the accessibility of vintage cards for me. (As an aside, I now consider the break I took between 2006 and 2012 to be one of the bigger mistakes I've ever made)

This was the only set ever issued for the BAA- Basketball Association of America- and the first basketball release of any sort. The BAA was the basis of the NBA just two seasons later; the NBA counts 1946 as it's first season because they use the BAA stats. There would not be another basketball set of any sort issued until 1957-58, 9 seasons later.

1948 Bowman is issued for the 1948-49 season, not 1947-48. When talking about sets for professional basketball and hockey one year as a descriptor is wrong.

The 1948 Bowman cards are smaller than current standard size, and are square- not the traditional rectangular. A standard size was not yet determined in the late 1940s, that would not come until the late 1950s, and even then there are still variations.

I believe that the images used in 1948 Bowman were black and white images that were colored later, not actual color images. I could be wrong on that though.

Many of the players missing from my collection got their only card issued in 1948 Bowman. With the length of time between early sets, and the later companies ignoring most everyone pre-Magic & Bird in their sets with retired players, the only card they ever got was the 1948 Bowman card. Gilmur, shown above, is one of the people who got only one card. (this could double as a One-Hit Wonder post!). He played only 5 seasons, between 1946-47 and 1950-51. He passed away at age 88 in 2011.

While the next several sets will again be non-sports cards, now that sports have made an appearance they will soon take up most of the posts.


  1. The Chicago Stags... never heard of them. To the internet!!

    1. Pretty obscure team, one of many early teams that didn't survive.