While the 1954 Bowman football set may not have had the eye appeal of the ’53 set, the design was still catchy enough to entice collectors.
The ’54 set displayed more action shots, albeit posed ones, and there were a few posed head shots. In addition to the photo, the card front features a white pennant with the player’s name, team and team logo.
For the most part, these cards take on a vertical design. The card has a white border, and the photograph it frames has rounded corners as opposed to the traditional four corners.
The card backs are divided into two distinct parts, kind of a 40-60 split. The left side shows the player’s name and position inside an outlined football, the card number is at the top left encased in an orange box, with the team name directly to its right. The player’s vital statistics (age, height, weight, residence, college) are positioned below the football, and there is a trivia question beneath that (the answer is upside down below the question).
The right-hand side of the card contains a brief description of the player’s feats in 1953, with a statistical breakdown of passing, receiving and “carrying” (rushing). There are rules explanations for players who don’t garner statistics, like offensive linemen, for example.
1954 Bowman Football Rookie Cards
Key rookies in this set are George Blanda (card No. 23) and Doug Atkins (No. 4). Some of the big stars include Norm Van Brocklin (No. 8), Frank Gifford (No. 55), Otto Graham (No. 40) and Y.A. Tittle (No. 42). The final card in the set, No. 128, belongs to John Lattner, who was the 1953 Heisman Trophy winner. And the longest last name in the set has to go to card No. 124, Bob Hoernschemeyer.
Errors and Variations
There are a couple of mistakes in the set, too. Card No. 97 of Tom Finnan also has a variation with his last name spelled as “Finnin.” Card No. 102 has two spelling variations—Elmer Tunnell (the correct one) and Elmer Tunnel. On card No. 49, the last name of Lynn Chandnois is spelled Chadnois in one variation and correctly in the other.
The card of Whizzer White (No. 125) is a little deceiving. The card is not that of the future Supreme Court justice (Byron White), but of Willford Parley “Whizzer” White, a former Chicago Bears halfback who hadn’t played in the NFL since 1952. The Whizzer in this set was the father of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White (whose given name is Wilford Daniel White).
Considering the age and the stars included, prices for 1954 Bowman Football cards aren’t sky high. In fact, it’s one we’ve identified as one of five undervalued vintage football sets. Predictably, the Blanda rookie card gets a good deal of attention, and the Gifford card also can be found for a reasonable price — even graded cards are affordable. Lattner cards are also plentiful on eBay.
1954 Bowman Football complete sets can usually be found for $500-$2,000 depending on grade.