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Topps acquisition of the Bowman Gum Company in the early 1950’s consolidated the bubblegum baseball card market under a single entity that would last for almost thirty years. However, it wasn’t until 1989 that Topps resurrected the Bowman brand as a standalone product. The cards were slightly larger than the traditional 2-1/2” x 3-1/2” sized cards collectors had become accustomed to and proved frustrating from a storage and archival standpoint. Despite a strong rookie checklist that included Ken Griffey Jr. the new Bowman brand was met with a lukewarm reception.

Home of the Rookie Card

The following year, the brand was reconfigured and included an aggressive marketing campaign with a new tagline, “Home of the Rookie Card”. This statement was manifested in the product itself in the form of the 120 rookies that were included in the checklist. In subsequent years, the Bowman brand continued to evolve. One of the most notable changes being in the card stock used from that of the traditional clay stock to a premium stock that included a high gloss finish. The checklist and size of the set itself continued to grow in quantity, which saw the 1992 version of the brand containing a total of 183 rookie cards, most notable of which were; Manny Ramirez, Mike Piazza, and Carlos Delgado

Brand Evolution

Since its early years under Topps control, the Bowman brand has spawned several sister products. Capitalizing on the popularity of rookie card collecting, enhancements in printing technologies and Topps exclusive licensing agreement with Major League Baseball, the Bowman name has given rise to some of the most desirable brands in the baseball card market. Some of these correlating branded products include names like, Bowman Chrome, Bowman’s Best, Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects, and Bowman Sterling. Regardless of the name, product configuration, or technologies employed, one constant has remained, in that the Bowman brand has become the most recognizable rookie card brand in the baseball card landscape.

Other Sports

The early success of the revitalized brand coupled with the boom era of sports cards in the early ‘90’s afforded Topps the opportunity to role out the Bowman brand across the other major sports. The first of these came in the much smaller hockey card market for the 1990-91 season, in the form of both a hobby pack product and a 264-card factory set. Later that decade, in the mid ‘90’s, both Bowman and it’s premium version, Bowman’s Best would be released to the football card market. The resulting success caused the company to open the brand to basketball in 1996-97, which just so happened to coincide with the return to prominence of the Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan. As with baseball before them, the popularity of the Bowman brands has been utilized in multiple formats across all sports through the years and will continue to be a dominate force in the hobby for years to come.

Bowman Card Sets

Browse our database of Bowman card sets, which feature product reviews, set checklists, expert analysis, price comparisons, and more.