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  #1  
Old 06-08-2018, 03:09 PM
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Default It's 1955 and you have a nickel

Hop into a time machine for a moment back to July 1955. You're eight years old and standing at the candy counter holding a nickel and staring at a box of Topps baseball cards and a box of Bowman.

Which one do you buy and why?

Here are ground rules.

Rookie cards mean nothing to you.
Future value seems unthinkable
There are no checklists so you have no clue on what players are possible, or even what series you're getting.
The Topps/Bowman battle isn't news and you don't understand player contracts anyway.
Your only guide is your 8 year old mind.

What do you do?
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  #2  
Old 06-08-2018, 03:32 PM
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I was 5 in 1955 and did not open my first pack until 1957 ( my parents did buy me cards in 1956). I might have gone the Bowman route because of the color TV format. In retrospect it was unique, but apparently a bust because the set did not due well against the Topps issue. The problem may have been so few families had a color TV in that year. But in hindsight I think the TV concept may have intrigued me ( and I would not have known about all those umpire cards )

Last edited by ALR-bishop; 06-08-2018 at 03:34 PM.
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  #3  
Old 06-08-2018, 03:41 PM
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I looked for images of the wrappers and Bowmans claimed 9 picture cards and bubble gum for 5c so that would probably have been my choice!
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Old 06-08-2018, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyLarry View Post
I looked for images of the wrappers and Bowmans claimed 9 picture cards and bubble gum for 5c so that would probably have been my choice!
Larry
Would have been my choice as well, for the same reason.

But then I'd have walked back down Flatbush Avenue and asked my grandfather for another* nickel and gone back to the candy store and bought a Topps pack.

*--he'd have given it to me for sure. I was his first grandkid and he spoiled me rotten.
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  #5  
Old 06-08-2018, 06:11 PM
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1955? I'd have been careful to not prevent my parents from gettting together at the "Enchantment Under the Sea" dance.
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Old 06-08-2018, 06:49 PM
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Well, when I was 8 I remember liking Topps cards much more than the Bowman ones so I'd have probably picked up the Topps pack. I didn't really start to appreciate the Bowman cards until much later in life. Now I really like them a lot.
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  #7  
Old 06-08-2018, 06:56 PM
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Well, I'd probably be drawn more to the Bowman package. It's more visually exciting. I would probably have liked the T.V. idea as a kid too.
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File Type: jpg 1955_bowman_baseball_pack.jpg (69.6 KB, 311 views)
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  #8  
Old 06-08-2018, 06:57 PM
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Bowman and it's not even close. They are a beautiful design and the 55 Topps are seriously horrible. Not a fan of the horizontal design except for the 55 Bowman cards.
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  #9  
Old 06-08-2018, 07:17 PM
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Bowman under the rules . Topps with my adult mind. But yeah I would have liked Bowman better as a kid for sure.
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  #10  
Old 06-08-2018, 07:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by profholt82 View Post
1955? I'd have been careful to not prevent my parents from gettting together at the "Enchantment Under the Sea" dance.
Calvin?

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  #11  
Old 06-08-2018, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
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I looked for images of the wrappers and Bowmans claimed 9 picture cards and bubble gum for 5c so that would probably have been my choice!
Larry
Same here. Although if I knew Mantle was not in the Topps set that would have been the deciding factor.
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  #12  
Old 06-08-2018, 10:38 PM
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I'm surprised at how few folks have said Topps in this scenario. I mean it's not even close. I think I'm the only one who would've chosen the Topps cards.
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  #13  
Old 06-09-2018, 06:05 AM
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I have always been a Topps man myself. I do not like any of the Bowman designs. No thought to them. Topps was bold and innovative. That is my direction and nickel.
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  #14  
Old 06-09-2018, 07:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CobbSpikedMe View Post
I'm surprised at how few folks have said Topps in this scenario. I mean it's not even close. I think I'm the only one who would've chosen the Topps cards.
I would have picked Topps. The 54 Bowman set was the ugliest set of the 50s until they made the 55 Bowman set. The 1955 Topps set is the best Topps set of the 50s and ranks 2nd overall to 1953 Bowman. I can't figure out what happened to Bowman after great sets from 1950-1953. It is like they ceased caring in 1954 and 1955. I hated the 1954 and 1955 Bowman cards as a kid and never tried to collect them.
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  #15  
Old 06-09-2018, 08:13 AM
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I also would’ve gone with Topps. I’m assuming that I wouldn’t know what each set looked like ahead of time. For me, the big drawback with Bowman is that with the exception of some 1949 cards, 1951 and 1955, they either didn’t put the players name on the front at all, or used a facsimile signature. I don’t like that I have to either decipher their handwriting or know them by face.
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  #16  
Old 06-09-2018, 08:48 AM
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I was 8 in July 1955 (almost 9) and grew up outside Hartford, CT and this was my 3rd year collecting cards thanks to the help of older brothers. Topps was our overwhelming favorite. I would have spent my nickel on Topps because 1) that is what my brothers (and some friends) bought and we traded, 2) we were "Topps customers," having bought their brand in the great 1953 and 1954 sets, and 3) I am not sure that Bowman was as available as Topps. Over the year, I too have developed a greater appreciation for the 1955 Bowman...some of their photos inside the colored TV format are pretty good.
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  #17  
Old 06-09-2018, 08:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rats60 View Post
I would have picked Topps. The 54 Bowman set was the ugliest set of the 50s until they made the 55 Bowman set. The 1955 Topps set is the best Topps set of the 50s and ranks 2nd overall to 1953 Bowman. I can't figure out what happened to Bowman after great sets from 1950-1953. It is like they ceased caring in 1954 and 1955. I hated the 1954 and 1955 Bowman cards as a kid and never tried to collect them.
Much as Sy Berger was the driving force behind the rise of the Topps baseball card effort, J Warren Bowman was the soul of the Bowman gum company. Demonstrating great timing he sold the company at it's peak in 1951/52 to Connely Containers and the company thereafter lost it's focus in the gum card market.

Connely did make a heroic effort in 1953 to reverse the Bowman market retreat but the Color set, though innovative, was extremely expensive and still underperformed the 53 Topps issue. That plus the increasing cost of litigation over player contracts convinced Connely to exit that business.

Dean's book, The Bubble Gum Card War: The Great Bowman and Topps Sets from 1948 to 1955, is a great account of that rivalry

Last edited by ALR-bishop; 06-09-2018 at 08:58 AM.
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  #18  
Old 06-09-2018, 09:00 AM
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Double post

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  #19  
Old 06-09-2018, 09:57 AM
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Interesting. The 53 Bowman set is just beautiful too so it makes sense that it cost them a fortune to produce. That also accounts for the disparity between the quality of their 53 and 54 sets. 57 Topps seems to have taken inspiration from the 53 Bowman, but it pales in comparison in my opinion.
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  #20  
Old 06-09-2018, 11:44 AM
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I would think who ever had the best gum would factor in for some 8 year olds

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  #21  
Old 06-09-2018, 01:24 PM
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I think I would have gone with Bowman, especially if I knw the design looked like that new Television thing
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  #22  
Old 06-09-2018, 02:43 PM
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Pretty sure I would have chosen Bowman simply due to there being more cards per pack. However, it would have ended as soon as I started getting cards of umpires, to my 5 year old mind this would have been an indignation I could not have stood for.
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  #23  
Old 06-09-2018, 03:01 PM
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By the way, a big thanks to David for posting the 55 packs.
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  #24  
Old 06-09-2018, 04:52 PM
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My Wayback Machine only goes back as far as 1966, when I was 13, and still remember where I snagged my '55 Bowman Mantle - unfettered by wax - for a quarter (BTW, the Mays was a dime).

Last edited by Paul S; 06-09-2018 at 04:55 PM.
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  #25  
Old 06-09-2018, 09:18 PM
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I recently showed my father (born 1947) my HOF card collection for the first time. He really enjoyed my cards, but when I showed him my 1955 Bowman cards his eyes lit up like fireworks! He was giggling like a kid when he saw the umpire cards like Nestor Chylak and Jocko Conlan. Haha, it was like as if he just took a time warp trip.
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  #26  
Old 06-10-2018, 07:29 AM
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I would have left the 5 & Dime store and scored me some crack on the street. Crack cost less back in the day...
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  #27  
Old 06-10-2018, 08:26 AM
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Crack still might be cheaper than some packs today.
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Old 06-10-2018, 09:33 AM
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I lived this choice. The corner grocery store was a block away in Scottsbluff, NB. by the time I got there with my nickel, Bobby Forrest (whose dad was the Cadillac dealer) usually had bought the boxes of Topps. I did buy a Topps pack (1955) that I remember well, because in it was a green 1954 Topps #50 Yogi Berra. I still haven’t figured that out. This particular store never stocked Bowman. If they had, I would have bought those.
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Old 06-10-2018, 12:18 PM
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It seems that geographic distribution quirks may play a considerable role in this contest. On the other hand, I wonder if the "poll" might be tainted by more recent bias in the hobby toward Topps and against Bowman. In July of 1955, however, I don't think most kids were even paying much attention to cards, as summertime diversions of other sorts were more attractive. Like most kinder of that time period, I had collected cards as a seven to ten-year-old, and my fondest recollection is of the 1953 sets from both companies. But, by the spring of '55, my interests had turned to eleven-year-old girls and sports generally, so that the only card set I actually could later recall from that year is the Bowman, probably because of its unusual design, plus the fact that Bowman had to some extent cornered the card market in my small hometown.
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Old 06-10-2018, 01:33 PM
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I'm happy to see some more votes for Topps in this scenario. Like I said in my initial post, when I was 8 in real life I didn't like the Bowman cards. That wasn't in the actual 50's of course, but still. As a kid, it was all Topps for me. Now I actually love the old Bowman sets and really like the 55's, but not then.
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  #31  
Old 06-10-2018, 01:58 PM
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Between a KFC & McDonalds-- i'd go for a 15c burger or 20c shake.
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  #32  
Old 06-10-2018, 07:27 PM
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I was ten and in my first “real” year of colllecting. (I had picked up a few 1954 packs late the previous year—loved Topps,hated the bowman.)

So when 1955 started, I bought Topps and was disappointed that they were horizontal and looked so similar 1954 pictures. In my area (upstate New York) stores carried either Topps or Bowman (like Coke and Pepsi today). I went to a store that sold bowman and picked up a pack. Loved the design, and kept buying Bowman, eventually completing the entire set. I did not mind the umpire cards, since they were as much a part of the game as the players. And they were pretty colorful characters. The write-ups on the backs were often just short of hilarious. I was fascinated by the blonde TV sets in the first series.

The Topps looked more like comic books and the Bowman looked more like real life.

AND there were more cards in the pack. I don’t remember much difference in the gum. Besides I traded the gun to my sister for her cards.

Good memories.

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Old 06-11-2018, 12:38 PM
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I'd loan the nickel to the dumb kid down the block for 6 cents the next week, then loan the 6 cents out and so on until I had a dime to buy one of each.

As for which pack to buy under the OP rules, I'd have gone with Bowman. More cards and bigger names. I mean, watching my friends rip the Topps packs, I'd have wondered "who are these guys?" This Koufax guy hasn't ever played ball before, and nobody with a name like Harmon Killebrew will ever be a ballplayer. And "Roberto", I'm not sure about that. Besides, he hit only .257 in the minors and the Pirates suck anyway.
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  #34  
Old 06-11-2018, 02:41 PM
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If I were alive at that time I would buy the '55 Topps. I would have been one of the first to buy them and not aware that the set didn't have Mantle until assembling the set.
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Old 06-12-2018, 08:43 AM
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I'd have probably gone for the Bowman pack.
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Old 06-12-2018, 12:38 PM
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At the beginning of the year it would have been Topps. After seeing Bowman's improvement over 1954 it would have depended on my mood.
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  #37  
Old 06-12-2018, 04:30 PM
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So this thread would be lost on the lad I was, with my hobby horse and Daniel Boone hat. And a fistful of melting ice cream cone. Now, If I woulda been 8, the Bowman TV cards hands down.
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  #38  
Old 06-14-2018, 08:07 PM
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The Bowmans, hands down. One of the cleverest set designs of all time. Unfortunately I wasn't born until 1977...:-(
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  #39  
Old 06-15-2018, 03:31 PM
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To be honest I bought plenty of cards in 1955. Made no difference to me who made them or if one had a better design than the other. Just wanted any baseball card with the gum!
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