Uncut Sheets of 1952 Bowman Large Football Cards
The picture below shows how uncut sheets of 1952 Bowman Large football cards were configured. As a model for the first one, I used a photo of a real uncut sheet that Ted Zanidakis posted in the net54baseball.com forums. Then I followed the simple numbering pattern of the first sheet to get the configuration of the other three sheets.
The first sheet contains cards numbered 1 through 36, in order, starting at the top left. The cards in the leftmost column and the cards in the rightmost column are short prints, because one of those two columns--usually the rightmost one--was truncated in he printing process. Quoting Ted:
"Bowman took their Small set and enlarged the size of their cards in order to compete with the very popular larger 1952 Topps baseball cards. Bowman had not yet increased the printing press track to 43 inches (used in the printing of all their cards from 1953 to 1955). In order to print all 144 cards in their football set, they had to cut down the size of the cardboard to fit the press's track. Thereby, cards on the rightmost column and the leftmost column of an original 36-card sheet were truncated. That resulted in, all cards divisible by 9 are short-printed. And, all cards divisible by 9 (+ 1) are short-printed."
As I understand it, then, the total population of Otto Graham cards (card #2) should approximately equal the total population of Norm Van Brocklin cards (card #1) plus the total population of Joe Spencer cards (card #9). On each of the sheets that Bowman printed of cards numbered 1-36, the Graham card would have survived, but either the the Van Brocklin card or the Spencer card would have been cut off.
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 is an effect of scanning them individually.)
Following the pattern of the first sheet, the second sheet, containing cards numbered 37-72, would have looked like this:
The third sheet, with cards numbered 73-108, would have looked like this:
And the fourth sheet, with cards numbered 109-144, would have looked like this:
According to the price guides, the most valuable card in the 1952 Bowman Large set is card number 144, Jim Lansford. Not only is the Lansford one of the divisible-by-9 short prints, they say, but it is also the last card in the set. In price guide conventional wisdom, the first and last cards of each set got more wear than the other cards, because their original owners--kids--stacked their cards in order, and the cards on the top and bottom of their stacks tended to get more wear than the others. In practice, I have found that this conventional wisdom doesn't hold true, and it doesn't hold true for this set. According to PSA's Population Report, some of the other cards on the right edges of the sheets above are scarcer in high grades than the Lansford. The last time I looked, there were fewer John Lee Hancock (#9), Glen Christian (#54), and John Schweder (#72) cards graded PSA 7 or higher than there were Jim Lansfords. The Lansford card sells for more, but only because the price guides say it's worth more.
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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