Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Which One Would You Choose?

In honor of exercising our right to vote today, I thought it would be interesting to show something that likely never was voted upon, namely three prototypes for 1956 Bowman baseball cards.

Bowman never really again approached the heights of their landmark 1953 color set but still had some nice issues in their final two years of existence. Prior to Topps buying out Bowman in late 1955, the boys in Philly were working on the '56 baseball cards and developed three prototypes (from the April 2006 REA auction):

The auction description described the cards and binder they were in thusly:

"The entire study, including processes and findings, is elaborately documented in the 24-page report, which is formally entitled “1956 Baseball Card Preference Study.” Only two of these reports were made for Bowman, each including three prototype 1956 Bowman cards. The player featured in the offered report features Clem Koshorek, and the other features Dodgers outfielder George Shuba, so each 1956 Bowman prototype card is actually unique."

The two reports were found among Topps Product Development head Woody Gelman's papers in 1983 and are key historical artifacts, so it is not surprising elements of two of these designs found their way into later sets; the look of the card on the bottom would reappear in the 1957 Topps Football set:

(from www.martyspsagradedcards.com, run by Marty Pritchard, an online compadre of mine)

While the "knothole" card on the upper right greatly resembles the 1958 Hires Root Beer cards:

(from www.qualitycards.com, run byanother online buddy Jay Wolt)

Topps must have designed the Hires set, don't you think?

So, which Bowman prototype would you have chosen? I doubt the knothole would have been picked, since it was too close to the '55 design. My money would have been on the two picture horizontal version, especially since Topps used the design the following year. The other prototype looks too much like the '53 Bowman's, just cluttered up a bit.


Spike Glidden said...

The two-picture would be fine with me. I wonder if they liked the 1955 Topps use of doubled close-up and profile shots and wanted to do something similar. In retrospect, it's probably wise they didn't. The 1956 Topps executed the look so perfectly, I don't see Bowman's plainer look seriously competing for attention.

Anonymous said...

Topps actually used all 3 designs in the 2003 Bowman Heritage Set.