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  #1  
Old 10-03-2020, 02:41 PM
jingram058 jingram058 is offline
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Default Building 1953 Bowman Color Full Set

Well, I have decided to take the plunge and build a full set of 1953 Bowman color cards. Who could know? But I do have many cards over what I consider the best baseball years ever that are considered desirable. So when I made a swap a few weeks back and acquired some really nice '52 Topps and '53 Bowman color cards, I had to pause and reflect on just how awesome these two sets truly are. I have no full sets. I did as a kid, and I miss that, very much. It was something that at that time, my dad and I both enjoyed together collecting and building those sets. I now wish I never got away from them. I have no false hope of putting together a '52 Topps set at this late point of my life, but I now have the really hard to get or pricey '53 Bowman colors, including Mantle and Reese and others, so why not? After reading through this wonderful blog about your sets, I've decided to give it a go myself. It won't be anything to write home about, condition wise, and I want it to be all raw cards, so please wish me luck. I imagine adding the black and whites to make it an entire set.
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  #2  
Old 10-03-2020, 04:13 PM
cardsagain74 cardsagain74 is offline
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Complete sets have always been my favorite part of collecting (guess it stuck with me once I got used to trying to finish them as a kid). Even with items as modest as collecting all the mini NFL helmets from those quarter machines in the '80s.

And with how today's market focuses a lot more on individual cards, you can sometimes buy vintage sets for reasonable prices. I tried to do that as much as possible after I started collecting again.
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  #3  
Old 10-03-2020, 06:54 PM
ALR-bishop ALR-bishop is offline
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Good luck jingram. It is a great set and it has my favorite Musial.
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  #4  
Old 10-03-2020, 08:02 PM
hcv123 hcv123 is offline
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Default Good luck!

I am not per se a set collector, but if I was 53 Bowman color would definitely be on the list of sets I would collect - just a beautiful set! Please post pics of some of your cards and share the progress you make!
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  #5  
Old 10-03-2020, 09:51 PM
jingram058 jingram058 is offline
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Originally Posted by hcv123 View Post
I am not per se a set collector, but if I was 53 Bowman color would definitely be on the list of sets I would collect - just a beautiful set! Please post pics of some of your cards and share the progress you make!

Here is what I got via trade. Believe me, I gave up good cards to get these. Also, 3 cards that came in the mail today. There will be a few more pricey ones, perhaps, but I think it can be done over the next few months. Won't be the most high-end set, but it will be the first set I've built in 50 years!
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  #6  
Old 10-03-2020, 10:14 PM
Tere1071 Tere1071 is offline
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I had a handful of 53 Bowmans, all stars, including the Mantle when I was a teenager in the late 70s. I ended up selling them in order to go to a summer debate institute. Almost 40 years later, I saw two raw 53 Bowmans at a local show for .50 each. I bought them out of nostalgia; however, it opened a Pandora's Box and I began piecing a set together.

Many on this board can speak with greater authority than I can about collecting this set. I can share my experiences from the last year in compiling my Bowman set from scratch.

1. It isn't a hard set to complete and with the exception of several cards not too terribly expensive to piece together. One poster suggested purchasing a complete set. That would save money and then you would have to upgrade only as necessary. It's also fun to piece it together, more on that in a bit.

2. When I began my quest last December I had planned to purchase raw cards in vg condition. The commons would be in vg/ex at best and the stars in fair to good condition. That didn't last very long. I have this compulsion to improve my cards and as in the past all the cards had to be in vg/ex across the board. Then I decided that I wasn't happy with the look of certain cards and now I'm crafting my set where I have a few cards in vg/ex while the others have to be in ex to ex-mint. About 30 of the cards are graded, including the Mantle, Berra, both combo cards, some minor stars and various singles throughout the set. One day I hope to trade my graded cards for their raw equivalents as I keep the set in plastic sheets in a binder.

3. As I keep upgrading I end up with extras. At this point I have had over 100 extras which I have hoped I could use to trade for other upgrades. That hasn't worked out as I had hoped. Virtually all of my purchases have come from eBay which has added to roughly 5.00 per card to my cost. There are also many cards available in vg/ex or less condition, meaning I'm in competiton with other sellers/collectors to get rid of my extras. As I said earlier, this isn't a hard set to complete and if you focus and remain focused on a certain grade, you'll do fine.

4. Ebay seems to be the easiest source for 53 Bowman color, but if you can buy locally or attain them from fellow collectors you have a better chance of saving money. I live in southeast Los Angeles County where there aren't many outlets to purchase 53 Bowmans, the stores that do have some are way on the other side of Los Angeles which I don't have much of an opportunity to visit. Singles for 53 Bowmans don't appear as often on the collector's sites, though there are groups through social media where there's activity. Some collectors who read this post and are active could speak to that.

5. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to raw cards. Some collectors and sellers have a broad interpretation, particularly when it comes to cards in the vg/ex to ex-mint range. I've had my best luck purchasing through Kent Jones and Sirius on eBay when it comes to accurate descriptions and competitive pricing. Greg Morris also provides quality cards, but his auctions attract lots of bidders and raw cards sometimes sell at higher prices. I've only had three instances where an eBay purchase of a 53 Bowman didn't meet the description, but it was taken care of in a quick and professional manner. Shop carefully as you'll probably see that card you'll need many more times in the future.

6. When I worked in the hobby at shows and in baseball card stores in the 70s and 80s "advanced" collectors collected Bowmans, but pricing was fairly simple: the first and last cards, high numbers and Dodgers/Yankees cards usually sold for more. After the rookie craze in the early 80s, rookie cards for vintage sets also sold for more. Getting back into this I've learned that pricing has grown more complex. Way back when Bobby Shantz generally sold as a common, in the 53 Bowman set he's considered to be a minor star and will sell for more than other commons. Others that may end up costing more are the Smokey Burgess, Curt Simmons, Mel Parnell, Joe Nuxhall, Billy Pierce, Hector Rodriguez, and Bob Rush. Minor stars, at least back when I was active working in the hobby, such as Minoso, Kluszewski, Reynolds, and Adcock have asking prices well above commons. Billy Martin is priced above some HOF players. Robin Roberts and Ralph Kiner usually can be found cheaply in vg/ex condition. High numbers 113-129 tend to cost a bit more than other high numbers, especially if their centered.

7. Centering didn't mean all that much when I collected and having a card in ex-mint was fine. When I rediscovered the 53 Bowmans I also learned that centering was a major issue with this set. Many collectors now consider centering extremely important and will pass on otherwise nice cards that have imperfect centering. In putting this set together either I found perfectly centered cards that were damaged in other ways or cards that presented nicely but have 70/30 centering or worse on a fairly common basis. My set is "imbalanced" as I didn't have the patience or funds to acquire that "perfect card." The high numbers frequently appear off-center and I've noticed that most of the lower numbers have more borders showing at the top and to the left side of the card. I have had difficulty finding the Easter and Joost centered. It's also difficult in the high numbers to find the Yost, Drews, Feller, Mitchell, Michaels, Ryan, Jones, Dente, Shea and Allie Clark well-centered.

I love looking at this set, not only for its aesthetic beauty but because it brings me back to a time when I read the backs of the cards and there was a magic in being surrounded by older cards, even if I didn't always have the funds to purchase them, which was often, and still happens today. Oh, well, some things I guess don't change! Happy collecting and please share your progress with others on this discussion board.
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  #7  
Old 10-03-2020, 10:39 PM
jingram058 jingram058 is offline
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Quote:
I love looking at this set, not only for its aesthetic beauty but because it brings me back to a time when I read the backs of the cards and there was a magic in being surrounded by older cards, even if I didn't always have the funds to purchase them, which was often, and still happens today.
Wow, that is an outstanding post and great advice. Many, many thanks. There really is something about this set, and the '52 Topps, that I just way overlooked before.
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  #8  
Old 10-10-2020, 05:57 PM
jingram058 jingram058 is offline
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Up to 36 cards now. It might not take the 2 years I planned for to get it done. I think I have the expensive, hard to get cards. Here are the cards I have acquired since my last post. Some are clearly in better shape than others. The Billy Pierce card is basically creased in two, but it is signed. This is more fun than I could ever have imagined! Who knew that throwing a few dollars around could be this enjoyable?
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  #9  
Old 10-10-2020, 06:31 PM
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Casey2296 Casey2296 is online now
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I have some raw 53 Bowman colors if you're interested in making a deal. Good luck building, it's one of my favorite sets.
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  #10  
Old 10-11-2020, 04:52 AM
Tere1071 Tere1071 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jingram058 View Post
Up to 36 cards now. It might not take the 2 years I planned for to get it done. I think I have the expensive, hard to get cards. Here are the cards I have acquired since my last post. Some are clearly in better shape than others. The Billy Pierce card is basically creased in two, but it is signed. This is more fun than I could ever have imagined! Who knew that throwing a few dollars around could be this enjoyable?
It's nice to see that you're having fun. The Drews that you acquired is difficult to find centered, so you did well there. I also have a number of 53 Bowman color extras for sale, if needed.
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  #11  
Old 10-11-2020, 06:50 AM
jingram058 jingram058 is offline
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I am noticing all kinds of imperfections in these cards as I move along...off centering, print lines, print blobs/pixels/spots, and blurriness. It isn't a thing with me, as I am not OCD or trying to build the world's greatest set here. But #44, the Berra-Bauer-Mantle I picked up, is so out of focus that, if it wasn't real, it looks like it was made on a child's printer. And it looks like all #44 cards are that way. How do you get something like that graded high? Bribe the grader? Still, beautiful cards.
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  #12  
Old 10-11-2020, 11:10 AM
Tere1071 Tere1071 is offline
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It is possible to find cards that are "higher quality" but it will require patience and money. I am focused on having cards that have clear images, no creases or wrinkles with reasonable corners. I have decided to live with non-perfect centering and wax stains on the reverse. I find myself continually upgrading, spending additional money. I know I have to move on soon as I want to begin a 59 set and my 53 set is nice as it stands. Decide early the direction you was to take your set and enjoy.
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  #13  
Old 10-11-2020, 02:58 PM
jingram058 jingram058 is offline
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Casey and Tere, thanks for offering up your extras. I may very well be interested. I just got quite a few, and I am putting in a pool heater, so it might be a few weeks before I can wheel and deal, if that's okay.
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  #14  
Old 10-11-2020, 06:19 PM
Tere1071 Tere1071 is offline
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I hate when real life interferes with my collecting!
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  #15  
Old 10-19-2020, 01:28 PM
IndyDave IndyDave is offline
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This post had me go back and look at my #44

Not the greatest of photos and not sure how it compares to others you’ve seen

This was part of my first submission to PSA in 2014. I bought this card from one my dad’s friends in the early 80’s. Jake had collected the cards as a kid. I always thought the Mantle was the best conditioned card in the group I bought. It came back a 5 (my introduction to what diamond cuts do to a grade / value. Was surprised when this came back a 8. Had a few other cards grade 8 as well
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  #16  
Old 10-19-2020, 03:25 PM
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Casey2296 Casey2296 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jingram058 View Post
Casey and Tere, thanks for offering up your extras. I may very well be interested. I just got quite a few, and I am putting in a pool heater, so it might be a few weeks before I can wheel and deal, if that's okay.
No problem, shoot me a PM with your e-mail address and I'll send you some scans when you are ready.
Thank you,
Phil
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  #17  
Old 10-19-2020, 05:17 PM
jayshum jayshum is offline
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In case you haven't seen it, the current Clean Sweep Auction has a large number of 1953 Color Bowmans listed individually so you may want to take a look at it to help with your set.
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  #18  
Old 10-19-2020, 06:22 PM
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I am going to say something controversial and I hope it doesn't get me banned from the board.

I don't love the 53 Bowman Color set. (ducks)

I have it. I have a 5.5 Mantle, and most of the other stars including Feller, Reese, Yogi, etc. are between PSA 4 and PSA 6.

I liked this set early on and enjoyed piecing it together. However, after I got it all in the binder, I have realized just how many pictures looked exactly alike. I feel like the set is a combination of the Davey Williams Card and Joe G. card and everything (except Pee Wee) seems to be derivative of that.

Even with the terrible lighting, I prefer 57 Topps to 53 Bowman Color and will always consider 54-56 topps to be my all time favorites (especially '56).

You will enjoy building it and at 160 cards, it is a reasonable quest, but while I will always look forward to pulling the binder and checking it out on occasion, I had to sit on the psychiatrist couch and confess that it isn't my favorite...
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  #19  
Old 10-19-2020, 06:35 PM
Tere1071 Tere1071 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jingram058 View Post
I am noticing all kinds of imperfections in these cards as I move along...off centering, print lines, print blobs/pixels/spots, and blurriness. It isn't a thing with me, as I am not OCD or trying to build the world's greatest set here. But #44, the Berra-Bauer-Mantle I picked up, is so out of focus that, if it wasn't real, it looks like it was made on a child's printer. And it looks like all #44 cards are that way. How do you get something like that graded high? Bribe the grader? Still, beautiful cards.
Overall it is a beautiful set, but individually some of the photos are murky. The first one that comes to mind is the Surkont. For me it looks like the photo was taken through a glass of water being used as a filter! The Perkowski also comes out a bit muddled. Rodriguez, card #98, has too much shadow which obscures the facial details. There are several other issues which I'll leave for the moment to see if anyone else has opinions on any of the images.

I'm not bashing the set, I thoroughly enjoy mine, it has far more positives than negatives. There are perhaps 10-15 cards that were flawed in their photography or finish.
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Old 10-19-2020, 06:43 PM
Tere1071 Tere1071 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kailes2872 View Post
I am going to say something controversial and I hope it doesn't get me banned from the board.

I don't love the 53 Bowman Color set. (ducks)

I have it. I have a 5.5 Mantle, and most of the other stars including Feller, Reese, Yogi, etc. are between PSA 4 and PSA 6.

I liked this set early on and enjoyed piecing it together. However, after I got it all in the binder, I have realized just how many pictures looked exactly alike. I feel like the set is a combination of the Davey Williams Card and Joe G. card and everything (except Pee Wee) seems to be derivative of that.

Even with the terrible lighting, I prefer 57 Topps to 53 Bowman Color and will always consider 54-56 topps to be my all time favorites (especially '56).

You will enjoy building it and at 160 cards, it is a reasonable quest, but while I will always look forward to pulling the binder and checking it out on occasion, I had to sit on the psychiatrist couch and confess that it isn't my favorite...
See my comment below yours. I am a fan of the set, but there are certain cards that didn't work due to either photography or the printing. I also enjoy some of the muddied 57s as the photos are softer in focus, which I like, in comparison to the 55s and 56s. I think the 56 is a great set and wished I owned one, but I would still enjoy the 53 Bowman and 57 Topps sets even more.
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  #21  
Old 10-19-2020, 06:49 PM
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vintagebaseballcardguy vintagebaseballcardguy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kailes2872 View Post
I am going to say something controversial and I hope it doesn't get me banned from the board.

I don't love the 53 Bowman Color set. (ducks)

I have it. I have a 5.5 Mantle, and most of the other stars including Feller, Reese, Yogi, etc. are between PSA 4 and PSA 6.

I liked this set early on and enjoyed piecing it together. However, after I got it all in the binder, I have realized just how many pictures looked exactly alike. I feel like the set is a combination of the Davey Williams Card and Joe G. card and everything (except Pee Wee) seems to be derivative of that.

Even with the terrible lighting, I prefer 57 Topps to 53 Bowman Color and will always consider 54-56 topps to be my all time favorites (especially '56).

You will enjoy building it and at 160 cards, it is a reasonable quest, but while I will always look forward to pulling the binder and checking it out on occasion, I had to sit on the psychiatrist couch and confess that it isn't my favorite...
I have the Mantle and the Musial. At one time, I set out to build it. I didn't get that far in (20 or so) when I came to similar conclusions. I like it but don't love it as I once did. Perhaps I will come back around someday. When it comes to Bowman, 1950-1952 are my favorites.
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  #22  
Old 10-20-2020, 01:48 PM
jingram058 jingram058 is offline
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I am now up to 55 cards out of 160. Just got Davey Williams, Vic Wertz, Sam Jethroe, Art Houtteman, and Sid Gordon, #s 1 thru 5. Also got Whitey Lockman and Robin Roberts. Going faster than I envisioned, so far. Yes, I too am noticing a lot of commonality to the photo shots, and afore-mentioned flaws...this set comes from a simpler time, I get that, but jeez louise, so many focus issues, printer lines, off centering, miscuts, etc., etc. Still, it's like a who's who of all the ballplayers my dad talked about. And God help me, I do love the simple color photo fronts, and all the bio info on the backs.
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  #23  
Old 10-20-2020, 07:11 PM
jingram058 jingram058 is offline
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Make it 57. Got Cass Michaels and Enos Slaughter, both for $18. The Enos Slaughter card is worth talking about; it is in real nice shape and decently centered. Another of the famous out of focus photos and a sort of dark streak along the lower back, but not too bad otherwise. That's where I am going with this set...raw and flawed, up to a point, and able to be handled without worry.
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  #24  
Old 10-20-2020, 07:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jingram058 View Post
Make it 57. Got Cass Michaels and Enos Slaughter, both for $18. The Enos Slaughter card is worth talking about; it is in real nice shape and decently centered. Another of the famous out of focus photos and a sort of dark streak along the lower back, but not too bad otherwise. That's where I am going with this set...raw and flawed, up to a point, and able to be handled without worry.
Raw and flawed are my favorite cards. The first 50s card I ever bought was a 1953 Color Bowman. Still have it and it is still my only card from the set.
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  #25  
Old 10-21-2020, 07:14 AM
jingram058 jingram058 is offline
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Just doing a casual search, it appears that the black and white set will be a more difficult affair altogether...fewer cards means fewer available, and higher priced. The color set, once you get past the sticker shock with Mantle, Reese, Berra, Ford, and a few others, the price really drops off. Well over 100 others can be had in vivid color for less than $10 each for decent raw cards. Black and whites are another animal altogether; even the commons are $25 up.
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