by Rich Klein
Dating to the late 1940s, the Bowman name has been strong in sports cards for generations. Even after a 44-year hiatus, the brand is still a major part of the sports card industry thanks to Topps’ reviving it over 20 years ago and sticking with it. The huge hobby success of 1992 Bowman baseball and positive reaction to Bowman football products after that cemented Bowman not just as a name from the hobby's past but one now associated with the future stars in a sport. The most recent product to be released is 2010 Bowman Sterling football, the highest end product in the Bowman line.
Sterling product has advantages for both collectors and dealers. The cards are definitely not your father’s cardboard-- as you would expect with a high-end product. Some think last year’s Sterling football design was better, but each year brings something a little different.
Sterling is heavy on rookies, rookie autos and rookie relics and it’s fitting that Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant is the cover boy for the box.
Dealers can opt to sell a full box or break them down and sell by the pack, which sort of feels like a box anyway because of the packaging. There are six packs to a box with each containing one autograph and two relic cards inside as part of the five cards a collector receives.
Currently through some popular on-line retail sites the six-pack boxes are available for between $225-250 and my local card store (Triple Cards in Plano, TX) is at about $280 with the packs selling for $50 each.
The “base” set actually has 50 rookies plus rookie autographs, rookie patches, veteran autographs and veteran patches. It’s a little different than your average card set in that regard.
Each box has 19 hits, but the majority of those are regular relic cards, and the value of those doesn’t always hold very well. The good thing is that there is so much rookie content, long-term potential could be good. It just depends on how things play out on the field. There are, unfortunately, a lot of sticker autographs here.
It’s a lot of fun to open and the box toppers are a nice addition.
We latched on to a full box and here’s what we pulled.
Box-Topper Card: Black Refractor #d to 25: Sam Bradford/Mardy Gilyard Relic
Base cards: Victor Cruz, Patrick Robinson
Jersey Cards: C.J. Spiller (#d to 299), Ndamukong Suh
Autograph Card: David Reed
Base Card: Corey Wootton
Refractor (#d to 299): Javier Arenas
Jersey Cards: Eric Berry, Montario Hardesty (#d to 299)
Black Refractor Autograph (#d to 50): Golden Tate
Base Cards: Lamarr Houston, Devin McCourty
Jersey Cards: Toby Gerhart (#d to 299), Jordan Shipley
Autograph Jersey Card: Anthony Dixon
Base Card: Carlos Dunlap
Refractor (#d to 299): Antonio Brown
Jersey Cards: Jahvid Best, Richard Seymour (interestingly, the only card we received in this master box that was not of a 2010 NFL Rookie)
Autograph Card: T.J. Ward
Base Card: Joe Haden
Blue Refractor (#d to 99): David Gettis
Jersey Card: Eric Decker
Gold Refractor Jersey (#d to 25): Armanti Edwards
Autograph Card: Kareem Jackson
Base Card: Derrick Morgan
Refractor (#d to 299): Maurice Pouncey
Jersey Cards: Emmanuel Sanders
Blue Refractor Jersey Card (#d to 99): Dan LeFevour
Dual Autograph Jersey Black Refractor (#d to 25): Montario Hardesty/Johnathan Dwyer
A nice start with ROY favorite Bradford adorning our box topper, but no huge hits. As for how we truly did out of this box, though, see us in about three years when most of these players’ NFL's futures are settled. Sometimes players have great rookie seasons and then never come close to that peak again (Ickey Woods) or sometimes the player has to wait his turn before he is at full speed (Michael Turner who was behind Tomlinson in San Diego for several seasons).
The other aspect I found fascinating about this break is that there were only eight pure "base cards" which were not either "Hits" or "Serial numbered". And if you are paying more than $200 for a box, that ratio of about 15 percent true non-hits is probably a good thing indeed.
Collectors and dealers are apparently opening a lot of this product. There are over 3200 Bowman Sterling listings on eBay now.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]