by Rich Klein
The Bowman name has certainly evolved since the original iteration in the post-war era. In those days, Bowman and Topps had their gum card wars which some collectors still consider the golden age of cards. While personally I do not like every one of those sets issues in that time frame (1954 Bowman comes to mind for me) others are all-time classics (1952 Topps, 1953 Bowman Color). After Topps bought out Bowman following the 1955 card season, the Bowman brand lay dormant until Topps brought back Bowman in the summer of 1989.
One aspect, which sort of flew under the radar for the next three years, was Bowman was including a lot of prospects and rookies in each of those sets. While some of the rookies in the 1989 set never panned out (when was the last time you heard of Johnny Ard or Austin Manahan?) others certainly did including Ken Griffey Jr. For the next three years Bowman just sort of existed and in fact was so little thought of I still remember going on a show trip in July, 1991 and coming back with a box to the Beckett office and none of us even knew this issue was being released. Yes, the Liss family was so bad at disseminating information that a major release such as that was a complete surprise.
Within a year Topps was finally hiring real PR people and communications improved going forward. I do know of at least one dealer who was aware of Bowman. One of my friends told me this dealer had accumulated 6.000 1991 Bowman Chipper Jones cards and was slowly selling them. Today, some print runs are not even close to 6,000 cards.
Then in 1992 Bowman exploded. For whatever reason, late in 1992 the boxes and sets began to take off in pricing and although as with many of the 1987-94 era cards the prices have settled down, there continues to be good demand for this set. Highlighted now by rookie cards of players such as Mike Piazza and Mariano Rivera, there will always be some interest in this set. And after Bowman got hot in 1992, Topps has continued to run products off the Bowman name.
Over the past few years, Bowman Platinum has joined the Bowman, Bowman Draft and Bowman Chrome line. As in the other mentioned sets, there is a heavy mix of high-level prospects to go with established major leaguers. Platinum puts a little pizzazz into the Bowman brand with the use of more inserts, parallels, die-cuts and the like.
The base set features a player’s photo silhouetted against a silvery background. The player’s name and team are on the bottom. The backs have biographical information, a brief informational note and seasonal and career stats.
How is this product performing? My local card store (Triple Cards, Plano TX) sold out of his five-cases at $109 per box. He reported such hits as a Bryce Harper autograph patch cards #d to 20 and Oscar Taveras and Mike Trout Autographed Patch Card each serial numbered to 5. Other leading on-line hobby retailers are currently between $90-100 for these boxes which consist of 20 packs and five cards per pack. Each box promises two autograph refractors and one autograph relic card. So how did we do from our box?
Base Veteran Cards: 29 all different out of 100 cards
Gold Parallel Veterans: Adrian Beltre, Gio Gonzalez,Salvador Perez,Adam Wainwright
Ruby Parallel Veteran: Miguel Cabrera
X-Fractor Parallel Prospect: David Dahl
Green Parallel Prospect (#d to 399) Brian Goodwin
Blue Parallel Prospect (#d to 199): Gregory Polanco
Best Bowman Players of all time: Giancarlo Stanton
Cutting Edge Stars: Francisco Lindor, Raul Mondesi. (Yes, in case you wanted to feel real old, that is the son of 1990’s Dodgers outfielder Raul Mondesi)
Prospect Autographs; Orlando Calixte, Peter O’Brien
Autograph Relic Blue Parallel (#d to 199): Oswaldo Arcia
In all, not a bad haul in we got three autographs and some nice inserts (although it would be nice if the autographs were more legible).
There are always some surprises in the younger players so check back with us in a few years to see how the prospect autographs worked out for us. And these are really attractive cards so just enjoy them all, even the base cards.
We understand blaster boxes have been serving up a decent supply of autographs in 2013 Bowman Platinum. There has been a lot of this product opened in just over two weeks since it debuted. There are over 13,000 listings on eBay right now.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]