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1951 Bowman Baseball - Starting a Historic Set

In the past few months I have given some serious thought as to where I will head next after my soon to be completed beloved 69' Topps Baseball set. Outside of the continual upgrading I will pursue with that I have begun to dabble in a few other issues.
I currently have about 15% of a start on a 55' Topps Baseball set which I enjoy.

I have, however, recently spent some time reading up on the card wars of the early 50's and the ongoing competition for signing major stars to card contacts that occured between Bowman and Topps starting in 1952.

My focus on the Bowman 51' issue soon led to a fascination. The fascination soon led to a casual ebay search. The casual ebay search led to the purchase of my first 51' Bowman and lo and behold a new set effort is born.

The 1951 Bowman issue is truly historic. Although the 52'T Mantle is the reknowned Mantle rookie; his true rookie is more likely the 51' Bowman (As it is for Willie Mays).
But I myopically zoned in on this set for numerous reasons. The painted player is more a piece of art than the photographed versions of later issues and Bowman did this extremely well in 51'. Although many of these paintings were just hijacked versions of the 50' set; the 51's were taller and the paintings were, in effect, uncropped from their square 50' format to be elongated in the rectangular format that also was popular in 52'. The 51' set has an amazing class of rookies and also HOF'ers and at 324 cards nicely represents most all of the active players and managers of that day.

Quite simply, I am hooked. An added perc for me is the holder. PSA slabs these gems in a well sized holder with the smoked plastic perimieters which stylistically accents the "painted card" of our cardboard heroes as real pieces of art. I just love that effect.

Those of you who know me, know I'm a brick by brick guy, so this could take a while on a budget. I feel pretty strongly about this endeavor, however.
I plan to try and build a compliment of commons in EXMT 6 on average and hopefully will sprinkle in some 7's as finances allow. I haven't given what grade to chase on some of the major stars too much thought initially because my head might explode! :-)

If anyone out there has a few cards they want to unload cheaply to jumpstart this effort please email me @ [email protected] or drop me a PM. This is the greatest community of collectors I know and there is no better place to share a simple announcement than right here.

Your additional thoughts on this set are also appreciated.
Never met a Vintage card I didn't like!


  • Good luck on your endeavor. I too have thought about the 51 set, albeit, this will be several years down the road after I get my 34 Goudey set up to snuff. The 51 set IMO is one of the rock solid sets of our hobby!

    Ken's 1934 Goudey Registry Set
    - Slowly (Very Slowly) Working On A 1952 Topps Raw Set (Lower Grade)
  • nortynorty Posts: 201

    It is a great set. Even though I sell almost exclusively baseball these days, I really love Bowmans' counterpoint 1951 football set. In fact that is my favorite set in the post war era, either football or baseball (I just love the dancing Bears' logo). You'll have some adventures in the 51 set. Those first 2 cards are killers! Good luck. If you are looking for ExMt or so, visit me at the National. I suspect you'll find some raw in my book.
    Joe Tauriello
    Setbuilders Sports Cards
    Ebay: set-builders & set-builders2
  • Ray, I got hooked o this set about a year ago. It is definitely a labor of love. I have collected 125 cards from this set PSA 6 or better and I am still only 38% complete. Any questions just PM or email me at
    [email protected].

    Also there are many folks on these boards who know this set very well and have never failed to clarify something for me when I asked.

    Good luck in your new quest....

    Here is a link to a fellow board members 51 set that really is and entertaining read...
    Joe N's 51 set
    Gregory Voit
    Ebay - mpn2gwvputty
    Ratso of the Booze Junkies MC
  • nortynorty Posts: 201

    I just read the commentary you linked to. That WAS entertaining! Do you know Joe N's last name? Sounds like he played for the Twins in the early 60's as he mentions Johnny Klippstein was a teammate. The only one I can think of is Joe Nossek who played the outfield for them. They had really good teams back in that era.
    Joe Tauriello
    Setbuilders Sports Cards
    Ebay: set-builders & set-builders2
  • VarghaVargha Posts: 2,392 ✭✭
    That is him. He just stepped out of coaching for health reasons during Spring Training. Joe's a good guy.
  • Thanks guys for the encouragement.

    Putty - I have already visited the comments on Joe's set. His represents one of the more entertaining presentations on the Registry.

    I am looking forward to getting in all the cards I have acquired and will register my set with scans.
    Never met a Vintage card I didn't like!
  • mrc32mrc32 Posts: 604
    I love the 51s. I probably would have done this set a long time ago but the size was just to much for me.
  • NeilDowneyNeilDowney Posts: 840 ✭✭
    Hey Ray, Good luck with your new labor of love. This set is unlike any others that you have been serious about collecting. I hope that it gives you years of pleasure and satisfaction. As most might know, I too have been drawn into the turn of the century painted cards collecting arena. I look forward to many more years of fun and excitment collecting my new set and hearing about your new set. Be sure to post a scan of your first card. I'd love to see it. Your friend, Neil
  • I have gotten off to somewhat of a roaring start on my effort due to the very kind support of some friendly board members and I thank them dearly for their initial response to my post.
    I truly believe that the time has come in my collecting lifeline to capture the challenge of building something really important; historic. The 1951 Bowman fits... even if it's in mid grade.
    Please keep me in mind for quality mid grade material.
    My plan is to load a scan here of the 1st card I actually receive on this post as a followup. Everything is currently in transit and my excitement is building.
    Is'nt that the best part? !!!!
    Never met a Vintage card I didn't like!
  • MantlefanMantlefan Posts: 1,080 ✭✭
    Good luck Ray!

    Wow, it was great going through Joe's set. I've dealt with him and he is a very classy guy. My New Year's resolution [#631] is to add pictures and comments to all my sets. Should be done by 2011!

    Always looking for 1957 Topps BB in PSA 9!
  • My set is up....well it's humble beginnings anyway. The scans are good but they simply do not do justice to the incredible feeling of holding one of these historic beauties in your hand.
    If your a 70's collector or 60's for that matter and you ever thought about building a historic set, but put that idea aside because you felt you couldnt afford the high grade material you had become accustomed to; check out the scan of card #194 a PSA 5 Peanuts Lowry.
    This mid grade card will convince you that 5's can still be blazers if your selective...and not break the bank and make building a historic set you will like possible.
    After seeing these cards in person I am convinced. Boehm's mid grade 1951 Bowman is underway!

    Link to My Set
    Never met a Vintage card I didn't like!
  • helionauthelionaut Posts: 1,555 ✭✭
    I once entertained the idea of starting that set, and did in fact. I got one-third of one percent (one card) into the set and stopped. I decided that the 1952 set would be a more realistic goal, and the presence of Musial in that set outweighed the absence of Williams. Besides, I knew it would be a long time before I could afford a Mantle or Mays, and since those are the keys to the set, it seemed kind of pointless to go on with those looming. But if I had my way, or at least more money, the 51 would be my clear choice for a post-war set. Good luck.
    2005 Origins Old Judge Brown #/20 and Black 1/1s, 2000 Ultimate Victory Gold #/25
    2004 UD Legends Bake McBride autos & parallels, and 1974 Topps #601 PSA 9
    Rare Grady Sizemore parallels, printing plates, autographs

    Nothing on ebay
  • VarghaVargha Posts: 2,392 ✭✭
    When I was collecting the set, you could get PSA 6 low number commons for around $10-$12 each and they looked very nice.
  • Very nice start Ray. I've always collected football, but want to start a baseball set and have made the decision to go with building a straight 1955 PSA 7 set since it has the RC of my hero Clemente. It's a long term goal at this point, but I'm sure will be worth it in the end. Good luck with both the 51 and 55 set! Brad
  • Helionaut - Every approach to historic sets is different. There is no doubt, that at some point in time, you have to face the prospect of acquiring the Mantle and the Mays for the 51' set.
    I use the "dream" theory for sets of this nature. We all dream that at some point in time we could own a really important "historic set". Getting started only enhances that possibility.
    A dream (some may say ambition) implies that the time horizon seems limitless. Fact is, most dreams don't come true. We are limited by the length of time we spend on this good earth. But, as a collector eternally chasing cardboard heroes, why not set the bar as high as you can set it and dream. Dream about someday completing it, and enjoying the process of collecting it, in it's essence along the way. We have no control how things may change in our lives, for worse or for better, in the coming years. Who know's. At some point I may actually be in the position to afford the Mantle or the Mays in a reasonable grade and I will already have the other bricks in place providing the "historic foundation".
    This is the fabric of what makes the "regular guy" just like the one with deep pockets. Dreams.
    Oh.....and sometimes they do come true. :-)
    RayBShotz - Dreamweaver.
    Never met a Vintage card I didn't like!
  • Ray, its been 16 years since you started this post, so how'd you do?

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