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Uncut Sheets of 1953 Bowman Football Cards

I have not seen a full sheet of 1953 Bowman football cards, but I believe that the pictures below show how the sheets were configured. If you hold your cursor above any of the card images below, your browser should show you the name of the player and the number of the card. Clicking on a card will bring up a full-size image. (A real uncut sheet would not have lines between the cards--that's an effect of scanning them individually.)

The 1953, 1954, and 1955 Bowman football sets contain 96, 128, and 160 cards, respectively. Because all of those numbers are divisible by 32, I presume that the 1953-1955 sets were printed on 32-card sheets. This would have been a change from the 1948-1952 Bowman sets, which were printed on 36-card sheets. I am guessing that Bowman made the change so that the cards would fit properly on the sheets. As I wrote on my 1952 Bowman Large virtual sheet page, the 1952 Large cards were too wide to be printed nine per row, and one card per row was truncated in the printing process. Since 1953-1955 Bowman cards are the same size as 1952 Bowman Larges, Bowman would have had the same problem with those. Reducing the number of cards per row to eight would have solved the problem.

Pictures I have seen of 1948, 1950, 1952 Bowman sheets show that they were ordered by number on the sheets. A picture of a four-card panel of 1953 Bowman cards on the Legendary Auctions web site suggests that the 1953 cards were printed in numerical order, as well. Here is a virtual version of the four-card panel:

Jim Finks - 1953 Bowman football card #23 Chuck Bednarik - 1953 Bowman football card #24
Leon Hart - 1953 Bowman football card #31 Hugh McElhenny - 1953 Bowman football card #32

And here is how the cards are numbered on the panel:

23 24
31 32

You can see that the card numbers increase by one as you move from left to right on the panel. You can also see that they increase by eight as you move from the top row to the bottom row. This suggests that there were eight cards per row. So this small panel is enough to convince me that the sheet configurations below are correct. (A big thanks to Dan Tester for showing me the four-card panel.)

I believe that the first 1953 Bowman sheet held cards numbered 1 through 32, and that it looked like this. The cards from the four-card panel are in the bottom right corner.

Eddie LeBaron - 1953 Bowman football card #1 John Dottley - 1953 Bowman football card #2 Babe Parilli - 1953 Bowman football card #3 Bucko Kilroy - 1953 Bowman football card #4 Joe Tereshinski - 1953 Bowman football card #5 Doak Walker - 1953 Bowman football card #6 Fran Polsfoot - 1953 Bowman football card #7 Sisto Averno - 1953 Bowman football card #8
Marion Motley - 1953 Bowman football card #9 Pat Brady - 1953 Bowman football card #10 Norm Van Brocklin - 1953 Bowman football card #11 Bill McColl - 1953 Bowman football card #12 Jerry Groom - 1953 Bowman football card #13 Al Pollard - 1953 Bowman football card #14 Dante Lavelli - 1953 Bowman football card #15 Eddie Price - 1953 Bowman football card #16
Charley Trippi - 1953 Bowman football card #17 Elbert Nickel - 1953 Bowman football card #18 George Taliaferro - 1953 Bowman football card #19 Charley Conerly - 1953 Bowman football card #20 Bobby Layne - 1953 Bowman football card #21 Elroy Hirsch - 1953 Bowman football card #22 Jim Finks - 1953 Bowman football card #23 Chuck Bednarik - 1953 Bowman football card #24
Kyle Rote - 1953 Bowman football card #25 Otto Graham - 1953 Bowman football card #26 Harry Gilmer - 1953 Bowman football card #27 Tobin Rote - 1953 Bowman football card #28 Billy Stone - 1953 Bowman football card #29 Buddy Young - 1953 Bowman football card #30 Leon Hart - 1953 Bowman football card #31 Hugh McElhenny - 1953 Bowman football card #32

This table shows how the cards were arranged by number:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32

The second sheet would have held cards numbered 33 through 64:

Dale Samuels - 1953 Bowman football card #33 Lou Creekmur - 1953 Bowman football card #34 Tom Catlin - 1953 Bowman football card #35 Tom Fears - 1953 Bowman football card #36 George Connor - 1953 Bowman football card #37 Bill Walsh - 1953 Bowman football card #38 Leo Sanford - 1953 Bowman football card #39 Horace Gillom - 1953 Bowman football card #40
John Schweder - 1953 Bowman football card #41 Tom O'Connell - 1953 Bowman football card #42 Frank Gifford - 1953 Bowman football card #43 Frank Continetti - 1953 Bowman football card #44 John Olszewski - 1953 Bowman football card #45 Dub Jones - 1953 Bowman football card #46 Don Paul - 1953 Bowman football card #47 Gerald Weatherly - 1953 Bowman football card #48
Fred Bruney - 1953 Bowman football card #49 Jack Scarbath - 1953 Bowman football card #50 John Karras - 1953 Bowman football card #51 Al Conway - 1953 Bowman football card #52 Emlen Tunnell - 1953 Bowman football card #53 Gern Nagler - 1953 Bowman football card #54 Ken Snyder - 1953 Bowman football card #55 Y.A. Tittle - 1953 Bowman football card #56
John Rapacz - 1953 Bowman football card #57 Harley Sewell - 1953 Bowman football card #58 Don Bingham - 1953 Bowman football card #59 Darrell Hogan - 1953 Bowman football card #60 Tony Curcillo - 1953 Bowman football card #61 Ray Renfro - 1953 Bowman football card #62 Leon Heath - 1953 Bowman football card #63 Tex Coulter - 1953 Bowman football card #64

And it would have been numbered like this:

33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48
49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56
57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64

Finally, the third sheet would have held cards numbered 65 through 96:

Dewayne Douglas - 1953 Bowman football card #65 Robert Smith - 1953 Bowman football card #66 Bob McChesney - 1953 Bowman football card #67 Dick Alban - 1953 Bowman football card #68 Andy Kozar - 1953 Bowman football card #69 Merwin Hodel - 1953 Bowman football card #70 Thurman McGraw - 1953 Bowman football card #71 Cliff Anderson - 1953 Bowman football card #72
Pete Pihos - 1953 Bowman football card #73 Julie Rykovich - 1953 Bowman football card #74 John Kreamcheck - 1953 Bowman football card #75 Lynn Chandnois - 1953 Bowman football card #76 Cloyce Box - 1953 Bowman football card #77 Ray Mathews - 1953 Bowman football card #78 Bobby Walston - 1953 Bowman football card #79 Jim Dooley - 1953 Bowman football card #80
Pat Harder - 1953 Bowman football card #81 Jerry Shipkey - 1953 Bowman football card #82 Bobby Thomason - 1953 Bowman football card #83 Hugh Taylor - 1953 Bowman football card #84 George Ratterman - 1953 Bowman football card #85 Don Stonesifer - 1953 Bowman football card #86 John Williams - 1953 Bowman football card #87 Leo Nomellini - 1953 Bowman football card #88
Frank Ziegler - 1953 Bowman football card #89 Don Paul - 1953 Bowman football card #90 Tom Dublinski - 1953 Bowman football card #91 Ken Carpenter - 1953 Bowman football card #92 Ted Marchibroda - 1953 Bowman football card #93 Chuck Drazenovich - 1953 Bowman football card #94 Lou Groza - 1953 Bowman football card #95 Billy Cross - 1953 Bowman football card #96

And it would have been numbered like this:

65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72
73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80
81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88
89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96

PSA's population report supports the sheet configurations above. At the time of this writing, fewer than ten of each of the following cards had been graded PSA 8 or better: 1, 4, 33, 34, 35, 40, 49, 57, 60, 63, 65, 80, and 81. Four of these cards are corner cards, and the rest appear on the edges of the sheets. Corner and edge cards, because they were more susceptible to damage in production, tend to be scarcer than cards from the interior of the sheets.

Beckett and other price guides--which I presume just copied from Beckett--indicate that some of the cards on the second and third sheets are short prints. I am skeptical about this. It is possible that Bowman printed fewer copies of one sheet than the others, but if they did, then all of the cards on that sheet would be short prints. My 2006-2007 Beckett doesn't show 32 consecutive short prints; it shows 24 short prints scattered among cards 39-96. It does not explain why.

Finally, I wonder if Bowman planned to print at least one more sheet in 1953. The 1953 set is Bowman's smallest, the only one with fewer than 100 cards. And the distribution of cards among teams is odd: as I wrote in one of my blog articles, there are just two Packers in the entire set. In the other early Bowman sets, the cards were distributed evenly among the NFL teams.

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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