After cutting back on the size of its 1953 set, Bowman increased its 1954 set to 128 cards. It was a year where their football design was markedly different from their baseball set from the same year.
Card fronts feature a picture of a player in an action pose, with a few given close-up head shots. A white pennant at the bottom includes the player's name, team and a team logo. Most cards are vertical, but a small number have been given a horizontal orientation. A white border surrounds the card, with the inside corners rounded. That would be the only time Bowman used rounded corners in the design of its football cards before it was bought out by Topps. The backs are divided into two parts. The left side includes a red box with the card number and a football graphic just below it that contains the player's name. The team name appears above the football. Below the football are some vital statistics and a football quiz. The right side has a short write-up about the player's career. Below the biography is one of two things: Most players have their 1953 stats, but linemen and specialists are given an explanation of a referee's signal instead.
It appears the 1954 set was broken down over four 32-card printing sheets. The third sheet containing cards 65-96 appear to have been short-printed, as those cards are much tougher to locate than the rest. Card #97 of Tom Finnan can also be found with his last name spelled Finnin, with the error card being the more valuable variation. The final card in the set shows John Lattner, who had just won the Heisman at Notre Dame. He appears to be wearing his college jersey, and that combined with his status as the final card of the set makes the card a little more in demand than some collectors might expect.
The big rookies in the set include George Blanda and Doug Atkins. A couple of players are frequently mistaken for others. Card #125 features Whizzer White, who is not the same player that later became a Supreme Court justice. Also, William Walsh on card #96 is not the same person who coached the 49ers to three Super Bowls.
Key 1954 Bowman Football Cards:
1954 Bowman Football Card Checklist
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