1948 Bowman Basketball Complete SGC-Graded Set (72): #3 SGC Set Registry

Sold For: $3,525

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1483

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Complete set of 1948 Bowman Basketball includes #69 George Mikan, the king of all basketball cards. All the cards in this set are graded and encapsulated by SGC. The 1948 Bowman Basketball series is particularly significant as this was the first set ever issued devoted exclusively to basketball. The George Mikan card in this set is widely recognized as the most sought-after and valuable of all basketball cards. This 1948 issue was the only basketball set Bowman ever produced. Cards from this set are extremely hard to find in high grade in part because these cards (like 1949 Bowman baseball) often naturally have soft corners due to the quality of the paper stock on which they are printed. This set is rated as the number-three set on the SGC Set Registry. The SGC grades are as follows: One NM 84: #23. Nine EX 60: #8, 17, 21, 26, 29, 30, 35, 36, and 54 Palmer RC. Ten VG/EX 50: #5, 7, 9 Phillip RC (HOF), 10 Davies RC (HOF), 11, 12, 13, 18, 28, and 34 Fulks RC (HOF). Seven VG 40: #4, 14, 16, 20, 27, 31, and 72 Braun RC. Nine GOOD 30: #1 Calverley RC, 2, 3, 15, 19, 24, 25, 32 Holzman RC (HOF), and 33. Two FAIR 20: #6 and 22. Thirty-four Authentic (including 22 color variations): #37 Carlson (Blue), 38 Jeanette RC (HOF, Gray), 39 (Blue), 40 (Blue), 41, 42 (Blue), 43 Halbert RC, 44, 45, 46 McKinney RC (Gray), 47, 48 Sadowski RC (Gray), 49 (Blue), 50 (Blue), 51 (Blue), 52 Simmons RC (Gray), 53, 55 Zaslofsky RC, 56 (Blue), 57 (Gray), 58 Risen RC (HOF, Gray), 59, 60 (Blue), 61 (Gray), 62 (Blue), 63 (Gray), 64, 65, 66 Pollard RC (HOF, Blue), 67, 68 (Gray), 69 Mikan RC (HOF, Blue; irregular handcut, a little corner wear, and perfect registration), 70 (Gray), and 71. As advanced collectors are well aware, 1948 Bowman basketball cards occasionally surface missing the red or blue coloring. It is believed that simple printing errors are responsible for these color variations, and that the "gray back" variations in 1948 Bowman basketball, as well as 1949 Bowman baseball (which have a very similar design), are the result of cards not going through an ink process, or the printing machines running out of ink. Twenty-two cards from this set would seem to confirm this theory, as the red is missing, and there is just a hint of weakening of color in a few areas of the blue backgrounds. All of these cards appear to have long ago been very carefully hand cut from sheets. Most otherwise have a very strong appearance, in many cases appearing EX. Many of the color variations in this set are particularly desirable to variation collectors and it may not be possible to find these cards graded anything other than "Authentic" (as opposed to numerically graded). While there is no way for us to be certain, we believe these were never actually issued in packs. A small quantity of these error sheets was probably given to neighborhood kids or saved from the trash at the Bowman factory in Philadelphia, and later hand cut and long ago dispersed throughout the collecting community. (We know this to be the case with 1949 Bowman baseball sheets, first-hand from collectors who were around in 1949 and who saved their cards.) In fact, we would be surprised if all of these rare color variation cards did not long ago originate from Philadelphia area collectors who neatly cut them from sheets. The reverse of each card is fully printed. This is the first and only basketball set Bowman ever issued. It apparently did not sell well, as Bowman never followed up with another basketball set. The set includes the rookie cards of all of the major stars of the era. The 1948 Bowman Basketball is well known for production-quality issues, making the assembling of high-quality sets particularly challenging. This is a very attractive, clean, mid-grade complete set of this significant basketball issue, including many unusual color variations. Total 72 cards. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000/$3,000. SOLD FOR $3,525

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