Bowman put out its largest football set in 1955, with 160 cards. It would be the final year that the Bowman brand would compete with Topps for dominance in the market; Topps would buy out Bowman in 1956 and would not release a football product with the Bowman name on it again until 1991.
There were only 12 teams in the NFL in 1955, and the New York Giants have the distinction of having players who are the two most coveted cards in the 1955 Bowman set. Tom Landry, who went on to fame as the Hall of Fame coach of the Dallas Cowboys for 29 seasons, is card No. 152 and the most valuable card. His teammate, running back Frank Gifford (card No. 7) is the other card that can fetch triple digits for high-grade specimens.
Landry’s Bowman card in 1955 is the second and final one that depicts him as a player; his rookie card was in the 1950 Bowman set. There have been 499 cards of the 1955 Landry sent to PSA for grading, and none have come back as gem mint. In fact, only two have graded out at PSA 9. There currently are about three dozen listings for the ’55 Landry on eBay, with prices ranging from lower grade examples under $60 to a BIN of $549 for a PSA 7.
There also are no graded gem mint cards of Gifford, although more (720) have been sent to PSA. The highest grade awarded was PSA 9 to eight submissions.
There are 30 Hall of Famers ini the set, which at 160 cards, was the largest of the eight sets produced by the company.
Collectors looking to buy a complete set online can find one at prices ranging from a few hundred dollars for a low to mid-grade offering to well over $1,000 for a better grouping. Commons are easy to scoop up at reasonable prices, too.
There were other big names in the set. Included is the rookie card of end/kicker and future Hall of Fame broadcaster Pat Summerall, along with future Hall of Famers Len Ford, Frank Gatski, John Henry Johnson, Mike McCormack, Jim Ringo and Bob St. Clair. Alan Ameche also makes his debut.
Key veteran cards include Norm Van Brocklin (No. 32), George Blanda (No. 62), Bobby Layne (card No. 71) and Y.A. Tittle (No. 72).
In general, cards 1-64 are easier to obtain. Two of the toughest cards to find in high grade are #89 Charley Toogood and #137 Kyle Rote.
The design of the cards was interesting. A player was depicted in front of a solid color background, and there is a specific color for each team; for example, the Giants have a green backdrop, the Cardinals are blue and the Eagles have yellow. I do wonder why the Browns have a light greenish tint, though. Wouldn’t brown have worked?
Each player’s photograph is accented by an aura-like outline. For the most part, the team name appears at the top of the card. And most of the cards employ a vertical design. Zeke Bratkowski (No. 154) is one example of a horizontal layout on the card front. The player’s name is included in white lettering inside a black box.
For the first time since the 1951 Bowman set, the card backs have a vertical design. The player’s name, team and position are included in a red area near the top of the card, and the card number is enclosed inside a football-shaped icon.
The 1955 Bowman football set marked the end of an era. It left Topps standing as the sole distributor of NFL cards, a role it would have for nearly a decade. Considering its’ size, the set is affordable, and so are the key cards. Click here to thousands for sale and auction.