The evolution of the baseball card continued in 1950 as the annual edition of the Bowman baseball card set continued to improve in picture quality and set size. Bowman employed artists to produce hand-painted color reproductions of actual black and white photographs.
While the 1950 Bowman cards are still small in size, the size of the set is not. Bowman increased the number of cards in the set to 252. This set was issued in a total of seven series and was again printed on the thirty-six card sheets. Unlike most vintage sets of cards, the first two series (1-72) of the 1950 Bowman is actually the most expensive. This indicates that Bowman underestimated how popular the full-color set was going to be and increased the number of cards printed in later series. The final series (#180-252) were printed with and without copyright lines. The cards from this series that do not contain the copyright labels are even scarcer.
The 1950 Bowman baseball cards are the only Bowman cards to feature the famous five-star logo, which sits on the top right corner on of the card back. The card backs also includes the phrase "Bowman 5-Star Picture Card Collectors Club."
The 1950 cards turned out to be the only year that the Bowman Gum Company would have a true monopoly on the baseball card hobby. Leaf included cards with their bubble gum in 1948 and 1949 and Topps issued their first card sets in 1951.
Today, the 1950 Bowman set is not as popular or even as widely collected as other Bowman baseball card sets from the early 1950's. The reasons for this are the cards were significantly smaller than those found in the later sets of the decade and also because that year’s rookie class was so weak.
1950 Bowman set may not be as exciting as the other sets they would produce down the road. They’re several aspects that make it unique. Ted Williams had his first baseball card printed since before the war during that year. The Bowman Company also decided to include cards for non-playing managers for the first time. While this might seem like a relatively minor innovation, it was a trend that would catch on and continue to this day.
This article is taken from Dean’s upcoming book “The Gum Card War and the Great Bowman & Topps Baseball Card Sets of 1948-1955”, which is scheduled to be released in August of this year in both print and eBook forms. Please feel free to contact Dean with any questions or comments at Dean@DeansCards.com
Dean Hanley is an authority on vintage sports cards and has written numerous articles on the topic. Mr. Hanley is the founder DeansCards.com, and with well-over one million vintage cards in inventory, DeansCards.com is the largest seller of vintage cards on the web. Dean has also published “Before there was Bubble Gum: Our Favorite Pre-World War I Baseball Cards”, which is available in eBook form at Amazon.com