1948 Bowman Basketball High-Numbers Complete Set (36) Including George Mikan Rookie

Sold For: $2,700

Auction Year: 2016 fall

Lot: 1932

Item Year: 1948

Category: Football/Basketball/Hockey/Boxing/Other Sports

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Presented is a complete second series (high numbers) set from the 1948 Bowman Basketball issue consisting of thirty-six different cards (#37-72), highlighted by the #69 George Mikan, the king of all basketball cards. 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. 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. 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. All thirty-six cards in this high-number set are hand-cut, likely from these sheets, and would not grade numerically. Fourteen of the cards are gray-back variations. Without respect to their hand-cut nature, the cards grade Ex to Ex-Mt overall, with five Vg to Vg-Ex, offering an incredibly presentable and relatively affordable alternative to a numerically graded grouping with similar eye-appeal. The Mikan card is encapsulated by PSA as Authentic and grades Ex to Ex-Mt otherwise. This is a very attractive and clean 36-card high-number set of this significant basketball issue, including many unusual color variations. Total: 36 cards. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000+.

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