In the mid-1950s, the NFL was still a few years away from becoming a growing juggernaut. It did have a football card contract, though. Bowman Gum had a run of success that would soon come to an end but the Philadelphia-based gum maker was the name of the game to kids who followed pro football and names like Tittle, Layne, Groza and Gifford.
This week’s Vintage Pack Facts from VintageBreaks.com takes us back to the 1954 Bowman set.
- Bowman’s set consisted of 128 cards, an increase of 32 players from the year before.
- The set contains 26 Hall of Famers including rookie cards of George Blanda and Johnny Lattner, who was the last card in the set and is now virtually impossible to find in mint condition with good centering.
- Collectors who wanted to add a 1950s unopened pack to their football card collections have usually had little trouble finding one from Bowman’s 1954 issue. A huge discovery of unopened boxes of mid-1950s baseball and football by Alan “Mr. Mint” Rosen in the 1980s (“The Paris, TN Find”) put a lot of them on the market, but they’ve been absorbed into collections, opened by curious collectors ripped live on the internet by pack breakers so they retain fairly strong value today.
- Bowman produced both penny packs (one card) and nickel packs (7 cards). Today, the 5-cent packs are harder to find. The 1-cent packs mention the contents as “picture card and bubble gum” while the 5-cent packs indicate the number of cards and price on the front.
- With one out of every five cards in the set featuring a Hall of Famer, the odds of a seven-card pack having at least one are pretty good, although short prints do exist.
- The display boxes included a football field design with a Blony Gum ad on the side. The display boxes usually sell for several hundred dollars today.
- For its penny packs, Bowman apparently also used a plain box that held 120 packs. Scarce today, it contained only a label on the side. LOTG Auctions sold one for $71 in 2014.
- Prices for penny packs have risen in recent years. Prices have ranged from $300 to $456. A nickel pack graded PSA 8 sold for $2,000 last year. Wrappers can usually be acquired for less than $20 on eBay.
- Vintage Breaks is offering a nickel pack break this week with spots priced at $425. You can watch a previous pack break below.
You can learn more about participating in vintage pack breaks—or just watch—by visiting VintageBreaks.com.