Uncut Sheets of 1948 Bowman Football Cards
The pictures below show how 1948 Bowman football cards were arranged on the three uncut sheets. As a model for the first one, I used a photo of a real uncut sheet that appeared in a 1984 Sports Collectors Digest article by Ted Zanidakis. From the simple numbering pattern of the first sheet, it is easy to guess what the other two sheets looked like.
If you hold your cursor above any of the cards below, your browser should show you the name of the player and the number of the card. Clicking on a card will bring up the full-sized scan. (A real uncut sheet would not have lines between the cards--that's an effect of scanning them individually.)
Ted notes in his article that only Giants, Eagles, and Redskins players appeared on the first 1948 Bowman sheet.
The following table shows how the cards on the first sheet were arranged by number. There is an obvious pattern to the numbers: at the upper left is card number 1, you add 3 to get the number of the next card, you add another 3 to get the number of the next card, and so on. (The cards in green are among the scarcest in the set in high grade--see below.)
Following the same numbering pattern, but starting with card number 2 in the upper left, we get the second sheet. This sheet contained only players from the other seven teams, the Packers, Bears, Yanks, Steelers, Rams, Cardinals, and Lions.
The second sheet was numbered like this:
Again following the same numbering pattern, but starting with card number 3 in the upper left, we get the third sheet. This sheet contained players from all ten NFL teams.
The third sheet was numbered like this:
In Ted's article, he recalls that cards from the first sheet were released early in the season, cards from the second sheet were released in the middle of the season, and cards from the third sheet were not distributed at all in his neighborhood. So, though I have not read it in any price guides, Bowman apparently released the 1948 cards in three series, and the three series corresponded to the three sheets. By skip-numbering the cards in each series, the company fooled kids into buying more cards, in search of the cards with the missing numbers. (Leaf employed similar dirty tricks in their 1949 football card set--but Leaf never did fill in the gaps!)
According to the price guides, 1948 Bowman cards with numbers divisible by 3 are short prints, meaning that the third sheet was printed in smaller quantities than the other two. As I said in one of my blog articles, however (see B is for Bowman), I don't believe that the disparity was as great as the price guides indicate. My Beckett catalog puts the divisible-by-3 commons at about four times the price of the other commons, but PSA's population report shows that PSA has graded only about third fewer of them. The last time I looked, the scarcest 1948 Bowman cards in high grades (PSA 8 or better) were card numbers 9, 18, 27, 69, 90, 99, 103, 106, and 108. I marked those cards in green in the tables above. As you can see, seven of those are from the third sheet, but numbers 103 and 106 were in the bottom right corner of the first sheet. This again shows that a card's position on the sheet affects its scarcity, because cards on the corners and edges of the sheets tended to get damaged in production.
For general information on uncut sheets of vintage football cards, see my blog article, U is for Uncut Sheets. Also see my other virtual uncut sheets, listed in the left column of this page.
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