In 1953, Bowman issued its smallest set, the only one that featured fewer than 100 cards. The set's small size has puzzled collectors, since Bowman was the only company issuing gum cards with football players on them.
Cards featured a colorized player picture (some painted, others photographic) along with their name and team listed inside a rather large white football graphic. Most cards are vertical, but some are given a horizontal orientation depending on the picture used. A white border surrounds the picture. Card backs feature a number inside a pair of old goalposts, with the player's name and vital statistics running along the top. A short biography follows, and the bottom is split into two parts. One side gives the previous season's statistics, while the other has a referee call or trivia question over a red football-shaped icon.
It has been determined that the 1953 Bowman football set was printed on three printing sheets of 32 cards each and that there were no series that were any scarcer than the others. However, there are 24 cards that are listed as short prints, including cards of Emlen Tunnell, Lou Groza and Frank Gifford. It is not known whether Bowman was still having trouble cutting and distributing the larger-sized cards in their factory or if the short-printing was the result of some other reason.
One player on the Steelers is William Walsh, who is not the same person who coached the 49ers a generation later. The only notable rookie in the set is Eddie LeBaron.