Welcome to the first edition of Vintage Pack Facts. While there aren’t many collectors who wouldn’t love to rip open a 30, 40, 50 or 60+-year-old pack, there isn’t really a readily available knowledge base for all of them. This series hopes to shed some light on one individual release each week in terms of the variety of packaging methods used, prices at the time, a little about the set itself and more.
Sponsor VintageBreaks.com will often open the packs we’re discussing and we’ll sometimes share those segments so you can have a little fun going back in time to see what kids saw when they opened them at the time (the gum was definitely better back then, though).
First up is the 1954 Bowman baseball issue.
- Bowman’s next-to-last baseball card set is probably most famous for a card that had to be pulled from production. Contract issues forced Bowman to remove Ted Williams, #66, from the set early on in the printing process and he was replaced by Jimmy Piersall. Today, the Williams card is one of the most sought after post-War vintage issues.
- Bowman baseball was produced in two series, #1-128 constituted Series 1 and #128-224 made up Series 2.
- Bowman cards were produced in penny packs that contained one card and for big spenders, nickel packs that contained seven cards. Inside was a big, pink slab of Bowman-made bubble gum. There are two versions of each wrapper–one with the “1954” date and the other without it.
- Green was definitely the Bowman theme that year. The box that held the packs was green with red trim (empty display boxes cost around $500 today), matching the very minimalist colors of the wax packs themselves.
- Most of the unopened packs and boxes of 1954 and 1955 Topps and Bowman baseball cards that exist today originated through Mr. Mint’s 1987 find in Paris, TN. Over 500 boxes were discovered and purchased along with more than 250 ’54 and ’55 Bowman football boxes and dozens of 1955 Bowman sets. Only a small fraction of the unopened material survives however.
- Today, unopened nickel packs generally sell for $1,000-$5,000, depending on the grade. Series 1 packs are a little more expensive. Penny packs are valued at $500 and up.
Check out last week’s 1954 Bowman pack break on Vintage Breaks’ YouTube channel below:
You can learn more about participating in vintage pack breaks—or just watch—by visiting VintageBreaks.com.