Card of the Day: Mickey Vernon 1953 Redman Tobacco AL-21

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Flashback Product of the Week: 1953 Bowman Firefighters

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Did you know this was National Fire Prevention Week?  Talking about fire safety makes me feel like Will Ferrell’s character Allen Gamble from the movie The Other Guys.  Its not very exciting.  Someone at Bowman during the early 1950’s thought it was a good idea to dedicate an entire 64-card set to firefighting.  Despite having fantastic artwork, this set didn’t really take off.  But it does have its share of fans today.  Especially ones that have a strong connection to fighting fires.

Browsing through the colorful card fronts, you’ll see a wide variety of fire fighting vehicles from the past up to the current time (as current as 1953).  The backs give a description about whichever vehicle is pictured on the front, along with a fact about some type of fire fighting equipment.  Believe it or not, but there are variations to look for.  You’ll find that some of the text on the back is either large or small.  What caused this?  Nobody really knows.  Some believe it might have been a regional thing.  Neither seems to be more scarce than the other.

When it comes to value, its always going to be about condition.  Complete sets can be picked up for a few hundred dollars, but the price will jump as the condition gets better.

Cardboard Double Take – Reese & Rollins


Collectors were astonished when their eyes fell upon the 1953 Bowman Color set.  Never before had they seen such beautiful imagery conceived on cardboard.  One of the most impressive looking cards considered by many would be #33.  It features a leaping Pee Wee Reese attempting to make what looks like an impeccable double-play.  Up until this time, collectors didn’t get to see many action shots like this featured on their cards.  Some believe this to be a reverse negative, because it looks as if the runner is going from third back to second.  The runner could have been running in the wrong direction too.  Given that this photograph was taken during a spring training game, you have to imagine that anything could have been going on.

Centering and focus are the two main issues with this specific card.  Some can be blurry.  If you are looking to add one to your collection, poor condition examples can be found for under $100.00.  Ones that are pack fresh and look fantastic can be worth thousands.  If you want a nice one, expect to pay $300.00 to $500.00.


Since the production of the ’53 Bowman Color Reese, there has been countless action shots included within card sets.  It has become a hobby standard by now.  I’m sure there are shots similar to the Reese, but not as similar as this Jimmy Rollins 2007 Topps Turkey Red #10.  Not only is Rollins throwing in the same direction, but the runner is facing the same way too.  I’m sure the Reese inspired this piece of work.

Card of the Day: Harvey Haddix 1953 Topps #273


Card of the Day: Vic Wertz 1953 Topps #142


Q & A – 1953 Bowman Color Reprints?

Question:  How do I tell the difference between a card from the real ’53 Bowman (color set) and the reprints from the ’80’s?

Answer:  One of the main differences between cards from the original 1953 Bowman Color set and the reprints of the 80’s would be condition.  Cards from 1953 will be harder to find in really good condition.  There are some people that would “artificially” age reprints to make them look like the real thing, so you need to be on the look out for that.  Specifically, the Mickey Mantle 1989 Bowman ’53 Color reprint actually has the word “Reprint” printed on the front.  Another major area that separates the originals from the reprints would be the color of the back.  If you take a look at the back of an original, the color will be a brown or grey.  A lot of the reprints will have a white back.  The original cards measure about 2.5″ x 3.75″.  Reprints may come in different sizes depending on the set.  The best way to be 100% sure is to buy one that is certified and/or graded.


1989 Bowman Mickey Mantle ’53 Color Reprint


Original ’53 Bowman Color back


’53 Bowman Color reprint back

Q & A – How Do I Spot A Fake 1953 Topps Mickey Mantle Baseball Card?

Question: I have been given a 1953 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card.  It is in mint condition but wonder if it could be fake, and what I can look for that will tell me.  Like the paper, what kind of finish if any?  Thanks.

Answer:  The 1953 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card is one of the most popular Mantle cards next to his 52 Topps and 51 Bowman RC.  A real 53 Topps Mantle won’t have a glossy finish to the front or back.  If I were you I would take a look at the edges and corners to see if they have been “trimmed” to make the appearence look better.  Trimming is where someone will closely cut off part of the edge of the card to take away any damage and reveal a clean cut.  One of the best ways to see if a card has been trimmed is to place it on top of another 1953 Topps baseball card to see if there is any difference in the size.  If one is smaller than another that is a good indication that it has been trimmed.  A black light can also be helpful with finding out if the card has had any surface repairs.  If you put it under the black light and you see some spots lighting up on the surface that means there has been some surface repairs made to it.  Back in the 90’s, Topps made a Mickey Mantle reprint set that features a reprint of the 53 Topps card.  Those are pretty easy to spot because they have a glossy finish to them and are usually always in better condition than an original.  Some of the reprints even have a chrome finish to them with protective covers over the front.  None of the originals ever had things like that on them.  Here is a picture of a real 1953 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card:

Here are what a few reprints look like: