A group of five apparently one-of-a-kind blank backed 1949 Bowman baseball cards, including Jackie Robinson’s first Bowman card and a Yogi Berra, have been authenticated by Sportscard Guaranty (SGC).
New Jersey-based vintage card specialist Just Collect recently acquired them from an Atlanta man whose collection also included cards spread across several different years and eras. They are expected to be offered in Just Collect’s weekly eBay auctions sometime this spring.
Normally, the Bowman cards have a player’s personal information, some text about his career and a card number on the back. Backs of 1949 Bowman cards are typically gray in color but it’s possible the cards are some sort of pre-production proof.
Just Collect’s Leighton Sheldon said he felt after closely examining the cards that they were not reprints or cards that had been re-backed. SGC agreed, giving the Robinson a 40 (VG) grade and the Berra a 20 (Fair). Three common cards from the set, Herman Wehmeier, Bob Elliot and Johnny Schmitz, were also blank backed and will be offered at auction.
SGC tells Sports Collectors Daily they have never graded a blank-backed 1949 Bowman until now.
Placing a value on the cards, especially the Robinson, is hard to do since there is no public sales data for which to use as a comparison. A normal Robinson in that grade sells for around $500. Interestingly, the photo used for that Bowman Robinson rookie card is currently being offered by Robert Edward Auctions.
The collection acquired by Just Collect also included a few dozen 1948 Bowman cards, including three Yogi Berra rookies and a Warren Spahn rookie, none of which are blank backed.
We’ll update this story when the cards go on the auction block.