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Go Back   Net54baseball.com Forums > Net54baseball Postwar Sportscard Forums > Postwar Baseball Cards Forum (Pre-1980)

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  #1  
Old 01-13-2021, 01:22 PM
ASF123 ASF123 is offline
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Default Why are 1953 Bowman color so awesome?

Lately I've been struck by how amazing the 1953 Bowman color set looks. The photos are just incredible - the colors and the contrast are orders of magnitude more vivid and lifelike than other sets of the era, and even (I dare say) going up through the '60s and '70s.

The Richie Ashburn, for example - it's like you're standing next to him in the dugout.

Can anyone shed any light on why they are head and shoulders above everything else? Something in the technique or technology that was used in taking or processing the photos, or the printing?

I have a feeling I may have found my next collecting project after I make some more progress on my HOFers...
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  #2  
Old 01-13-2021, 01:52 PM
Tere1071 Tere1071 is offline
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Originally Posted by ASF123 View Post
Lately I've been struck by how amazing the 1953 Bowman color set looks. The photos are just incredible - the colors and the contrast are orders of magnitude more vivid and lifelike than other sets of the era, and even (I dare say) going up through the '60s and '70s.

The Richie Ashburn, for example - it's like you're standing next to him in the dugout.

Can anyone shed any light on why they are head and shoulders above everything else? Something in the technique or technology that was used in taking or processing the photos, or the printing?

I have a feeling I may have found my next collecting project after I make some more progress on my HOFers...
At the time the photos were taken using Kodachrome which provided vivid colors. Another example of that era was the images that appeared in Sport magazine, also shot in Kodachrome. People used to take those images out of the magazine to have them autographed or framed.

I love my set, but there are a number of cards that weren't shot or produced well, particularly in the higher numbers. There are a number of 53 Bowman color collectors on this board, let's share your input about this set.
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  #3  
Old 01-13-2021, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
At the time the photos were taken using Kodachrome which provided vivid colors. Another example of that era was the images that appeared in Sport magazine, also shot in Kodachrome.
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah

Now that's going to be stuck in my head all day...at least it's a good (and apparently accurate) song.

Last edited by ASF123; 01-13-2021 at 01:57 PM.
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  #4  
Old 01-13-2021, 02:15 PM
brian1961 brian1961 is offline
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The Paul Simon song immediately came to my mind, too. The Bowman company HAD TO DO SOMETHING, to deal with Topps, since their monster cards of '52 virtually captured the card market in one year. At least Bowman vastly increased the size of their football cards for fall '52, unveiling what would come to be considered the finest football cards ever made.

Back to the OP, Bowman's use of Kodachrome was an inspiration. As I ponder what Bowman did, it would seem they used a much better printing method to capture the fineness of detail the Kodachrome offered, for their image resolution is off the charts!

--- Brian Powell
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  #5  
Old 01-13-2021, 04:25 PM
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Bowman definitely covered all the bases in 1953. If you didn't like beautiful cards you could buy their black and white sister set.
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  #6  
Old 01-13-2021, 06:28 PM
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A great visual set because of the ability of the photographers. No out of focus snapshots from across the field in this set. Fantastic composition that captures the moment - and, the designers purposely kept the cards clean and simple w/no detracting banners, headers, or logos. A perfect example of how less is more. Of course I love the '72 topps set as well
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  #7  
Old 01-13-2021, 07:05 PM
Tere1071 Tere1071 is offline
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The cards have a certain warmth, unlike newer cards which have a brighter, crisper image. No criticism intended by the comparison.

As I mentioned the set for the most part offers beautiful photography, but there are certain numbers that didn't benefit from the process. It's hard to discern the facial features of Hector Rodriguez, #98, and the Lown, Surkont, Lollar, and Fox all appear to be a bit murky. Lie many previous sets quality control leaves something to be desired for this set- too many off-center and miscut cards to begin with. I've also wondered why there are two cards of Al Corwin in the set.

Are there any certain cards that collectors would like to point out for their artistry?
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  #8  
Old 01-13-2021, 08:20 PM
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I can't believe no one has at least posted a card. Here's a Musial.
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File Type: jpg 1953 Bowman Color Musial SGC80 Front Edited.jpg (51.5 KB, 168 views)
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  #9  
Old 01-13-2021, 08:55 PM
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That's a very, very nice Musial. Let's see some more cards!
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  #10  
Old 01-13-2021, 09:00 PM
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a few
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File Type: jpg ashburn.jpg (77.7 KB, 161 views)
File Type: jpg berra53bc.jpg (43.1 KB, 158 views)
File Type: jpg ford53.jpg (76.6 KB, 159 views)
File Type: jpg musial53.jpg (78.4 KB, 160 views)
File Type: jpg roberts53.jpg (76.9 KB, 160 views)
File Type: jpg spahn53bc.jpg (77.7 KB, 160 views)
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  #11  
Old 01-13-2021, 10:05 PM
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The Roberts is another stunner. The Phillies colors come through so richly, and the detail and texture of his glove...not to mention the expression on his face of course.
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  #12  
Old 01-13-2021, 10:47 PM
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I have long wondered who the photographer was? He was certainly a master of working with light. I suppose he could have been a she. That might explain why just about every player in the set seems like he's in such a good mood. Or maybe the photographer brought a pretty woman along to flirt with the players. I would have done it. They're all smiling and seem relaxed.

I like every photo in the set except the one of Alvin Dark. To have so many great shots, it makes me wonder how many shots of each player were taken. And what became of the negatives. I'm guessing they also photographed a bunch of players who never made it into the set.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cornhusker View Post
A great visual set because of the ability of the photographers. No out of focus snapshots from across the field in this set. Fantastic composition that captures the moment - and, the designers purposely kept the cards clean and simple w/no detracting banners, headers, or logos. A perfect example of how less is more. Of course I love the '72 topps set as well
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  #13  
Old 01-13-2021, 11:18 PM
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Kodachrome, just like the movies filmed in Kodachrome the colors are richer than standard film.
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  #14  
Old 01-14-2021, 06:03 AM
Tere1071 Tere1071 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Counts View Post
I have long wondered who the photographer was? He was certainly a master of working with light. I suppose he could have been a she. That might explain why just about every player in the set seems like he's in such a good mood. Or maybe the photographer brought a pretty woman along to flirt with the players. I would have done it. They're all smiling and seem relaxed.

I like every photo in the set except the one of Alvin Dark. To have so many great shots, it makes me wonder how many shots of each player were taken. And what became of the negatives. I'm guessing they also photographed a bunch of players who never made it into the set.
I wonder if the negatives became part of the purchase when Bowman sold their operations and archives to Topps in 1956. As for additional photographs, I don't know if anyone has weighed in with any evidence. The 53 Bowman color set hasn't been the subject of deep analysis. I am hoping that through this thread collectors could share their knowledge of the history of this particular set, its peculiarities, and display what we have collected. For example, I never knew until recently that there are five test cards that were never issued for the set.
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  #15  
Old 01-14-2021, 08:20 AM
Tere1071 Tere1071 is offline
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Originally Posted by Peter_Spaeth View Post
a few
You have some great looking cards! Hopefully more 53 Bowman collectors will post their cards to share. Mid and lower grade cards are also fine to display, let's share our collecting with one another.
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  #16  
Old 01-14-2021, 09:29 AM
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  #17  
Old 01-14-2021, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tere1071 View Post
I wonder if the negatives became part of the purchase when Bowman sold their operations and archives to Topps in 1956. As for additional photographs, I don't know if anyone has weighed in with any evidence. The 53 Bowman color set hasn't been the subject of deep analysis. I am hoping that through this thread collectors could share their knowledge of the history of this particular set, its peculiarities, and display what we have collected. For example, I never knew until recently that there are five test cards that were never issued for the set.
The 1952 Red Man Roberts looks like it could well be based on a slightly different photo from the same session.
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  #18  
Old 01-14-2021, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by riggs336 View Post
Bowman definitely covered all the bases in 1953. If you didn't like beautiful cards you could buy their black and white sister set.
I believe that the Black & White "set" is actually the last two series of the entire 1953 Bowman set. The company simply ran out of funds to print those last two series in Kodachrome. But every other detail of those 64 cards seems to match the first 160 color cards. It's kind of a shame that Bowman invested so much in the endorsement by Joe DiMaggio of the set. But since his contract apparently only covered the "color" cards, Bowman resorted to the later austerity strategy. Here's a second series sheet of 32 cards.
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File Type: jpg 1953 Bowman Color 2nd Series Sheet.jpg (82.5 KB, 94 views)
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  #19  
Old 01-14-2021, 03:02 PM
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I love this set but it was a market bust for Bowman in 1953 in terms of sales versus the Topps offering
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  #20  
Old 01-14-2021, 04:07 PM
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The Topps sets are Flexichromes.



Credit: http://www.thetoppsarchives.com/2011...rome-away.html

The Topps cards are black and white images colored with the Flexichrome process. That is why they have the character of photorealistic paintings rather than photographs. The Bowmans are Kodachrome color photos reproduced as prints.
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  #21  
Old 01-17-2021, 06:57 AM
Tere1071 Tere1071 is offline
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My 53 Bowman collection doesn't quite reach the heights of the cards that have been posted, but I'm doing so to keep the discussion going in general.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 53gai6berrabauermantle.jpg (74.2 KB, 47 views)
File Type: jpg 53psa4mantle.jpg (75.5 KB, 47 views)
File Type: jpg 53psa4snider.jpg (73.8 KB, 47 views)
File Type: jpg 53psa5ford.jpg (77.2 KB, 47 views)
File Type: jpg 53sgc4.5musial.jpg (69.7 KB, 47 views)
File Type: jpg 53sg5cberra.jpg (76.7 KB, 47 views)
File Type: jpg reese.jpg (62.1 KB, 47 views)

Last edited by Tere1071; 01-17-2021 at 07:03 AM.
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