Thursday, January 24, 2008

JOHN CHUCKMAN'S NON-SPORTS TRADING CARDS - BOWMAN FIREFIGHTERS - 1953 - 64-CARD COMPLETE SET - FRONTS AND BACKS - PLUS WRAPPER AND DISPLAY BOX - DESCRIPTION OF SET

Despite some serious shortcomings, this remains an appealing set of cards. Fire engines seemed a natural subject, and one wishes it had received a somewhat more definitive treatment. Bowman used a sketchy kind of artwork on them. Backgrounds are often just hints or even colored washes, and even some of the fire-fighting vehicles in the foreground are not very detailed. This works when the artist was one of their skilled ones (as Card # 38 or # 63), but in a number of cases the artwork is almost amateurish and awkward-looking. It was a mistake from a collector's view not to have either title or number on the faces of the cards. But since Bowman used the same titles over many times - as Modern Fireboat or Modern Pumper Engine - they may have felt it wouldn't have added a great deal to include them. I believe the reason for these sketchy titles was that many of the drawings have no detail and no sense of being specific products from specific companies. The sketchiness and poor drawing is sometimes so great that there are, in a couple of cases, images which can be confused with each other. The colors red and yellow as the main theme running through the set is interesting but limiting. The backs are dull in appearance and contain very little information. The safety slogans are a particularly unattractive feature, but one has to consider that Bowman had a strong penchant for preachiness and for right-wing views, as you may easily see in sets such somewhat bizarre sets as The Red Menace or Wild Man. 



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