(Check out our other player card posts here.)

Considering the fledgling state of the hobby just after World War II, it might surprise you to learn that the first Jackie Robinson baseball card depicting him in a Brooklyn D1947-Bond-Bread-Jackie-Robinsonodgers uniform was issued in 1947, the same year “Jack” became the first black player in the Major Leagues.

But Bond Bread wasn’t content to include Robinson as part of their 48-card regional issue, also treating collectors to a 13-card set focused solely on the budding legend.

Hobby Bread Crumbs

A set of less than 50 cards packaged with loaves of bread may not sound too exciting today given the number and variety of new issues available year-round, but it was big doings in the summer of 1947.

The United States was climbing out of our collective wartime shell-shock, and the Baby Boom was well underway, but the prosperity of the 50s was still a few years away. Throttled by a decade of the Great Depression and the oppressive lingering shadow of the then-defunct Third Reich, the world was eager for the future but still cautious.

That trepidation carried over to baseball card production.

Play Ball had issued the last major set before the war way back in 1941, and it would be another year before Bowman and Leaf cranked up their presses to plant the early seeds of the modern gum card era.

And even then, Robinson didn’t make his cardboard debut for nearly another two years, as Bowman skipped him in 1948 and there is some debate over whether the Leaf issue dates1947-Bond-Bread-Jackie-Robinson-10 to 1948 or 1949.

You can imagine, then, how exciting it must have been for Little Leaguers and other young fans on the East Coast to stumble across pictures of their favorite players when they were throwing out bread bags for their mothers. And to be greeted by the serious visage of Jackie Robinson in his Dodger Blue (or black-and-white for the unimaginative)?

That must have been a thrill to surpass any sort of “pull” you might chase among today’s issues, no matter how flashy.

The Ori1947-Bond-Bread-Jackie-Robinson-7ginal Blank Backs

Flashy is one thing that the 1947 Bond Bread cards are not.

Each card features a full-bleed, black-and-white photo on a 2-1/4″ x 3-1/2″ rectangle with rounded corners. Add in a facsimile autograph across the bottom portion of the card front, and you’ve accounted for all of the design elements that Bond had to offer.

No borders.

No team name.

No player name.

No card number.

Heck, the cards don’t even have backs, so when you flip one over, you’re greeted with a white slate of nothingness that might hint at either the limitless1947-Bond-Bread-Jackie-Robinson-2 possibilities or the unnerving uncertainty of the looming 1950s.

It was all open to interpretation in 1947, and it’s a good bet that more than a handful of the canvas on the back of the Bond cards that survived the garbage man ended up adorned with the personalized stylings of aspiring ten-year-old artists.

Can’t Get Enough of Jackie

A decade before America’s love affair with the Jack and Jackie Kennedy began in earnest, it was Jackie Robinson who captured our attention and both divided and united us like no other.

For Bond Bread, there appeared to be no waffling on the merits of Robinson’s budding celebrity, as the General Baking Company property followed  up their “comprehensive” Major League set with a second 1947 issue, this one focused solely on Jackie. In all, there are 13 cards in this second offering, with titles like “Awaiting Pitch,” “Thro1947-Bond-Bread-Jackie-Robinson-6wing,” and “Sliding” giving you a pretty good idea of what to expect should you ever happen across one of them.

The chances of that are pretty slim, though, unless you specifically seek them out.

According to the PSA population report, just a handful of Robinsons from the base set have been graded, while the full-blown Jackie set checks in with slightly more than 200 graded specimens.

With numbers like that, it’s not surprising that Bond Bread Robinsons bring solid four figures when they come up for sale in decent graded condition.

On the Ground Floor

Everyone wants to be part of something special, and we want to be part of it from the beginning.

In the baseball card world, Upper Deck gets a lot of credit for tagging Ken Griffey, Jr., as their Number 1 card in their Number 1 set, the inaugural 1989 edition.

That was a brilliant marriage that helped propel UD further, faster with every accomplishment The Kid racked up than would have been possible if they had1947-Bond-Bread-Jackie-Robinson-1  than slotted, say, Chris Sabo at #1.

But can you imagine the clamor there would be today if a new set cornered the market on a truly transformative figure, like Jackie Robinson?

Why, that card-maker would form a downright unbreakable Bond with collectors, don’t you think?

And that’s just what Bond Bread did when they issued the first Jackie Robinson baseball card — and baseball card set. It’s a part of hobby history even more important seven decades later than it was when it first rolled off the printing press.

(Check out our other player card posts here.)

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