Topps may not have realized the monster it was creating when it decided to bring back the 1950s-era Bowman line in 1989. More than two decades later, today's current issue collector circles the date of the annual Bowman-branded release on his calendar as the first cards of what they hope will be tomorrow's stars are revealed. 2011 Bowman has arrived--and in some cases disappeared--from store shelves, creating another mad rush.
Last year, Stephen Strasburg was the cause of all the hoopla. This time, it's another Washington Nationals' draft pick, Bryce Harper, who is driving the market. Remarkably, Harper has not only not played in one big league game, he's still just 18 years old. Tracked as a prospect since he was barely out of junior high, Harper has lived up to expectations in his first minor league season and some believe he could make his Nationals' debut before the end of this season.
The first on-card base Harper autograph found in 2011 Bowman packs was quickly offered on eBay and sold Monday for $1150 . Another copy of the same signed card is already closing in on $600 with a scheduled Thursday night close.
Harper autographed parallels, like the purple edition shown at right, are in short supply, much like the Strasburg issue was last year. In fact, Harper autos are selling beyond the price most savvy sellers were able to get before Strasburg's injury and increased availability sent prices tumbling.
A total of ten Harper auto redemption cards were on eBay as of Tuesday night, with Buy it Now prices ranging from $700-800. Two had already sold for $715 earlier this month. Each case is expected to yield 24 autographs.
Jumbo cases containing eight boxes have risen from $1000-1100 less than a week ago to between $1500 and $1600. 12-box regular HTA cases also saw a jump in price.
Remarkably, the Harper autograph cards are now selling for what many of Albert Pujols' first Bowman autographed cards are bringing. The length and depth of the frenzy surrounding his 2011 Bowman debut is hard to determine, but regardless of the logic... or lack of it...it's clear the current card market is getting another jolt out of one of the hobby's oldest brand names.
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