Bowman Gum, formerly Gum Inc., had produced the 'Play Ball' sets from 1939 to 1941. No further sports trading card sets were produced until 1948 because resources such as paper as well as the factories were needed for the war effort. When Bowman resumed printing cards they did so with national sets in three sports ushering in the modern era of trading cards. The following is a list with brief summary of Bowman trading card products for the 1940s.
This is the second in the Play Ball series and carries the designation R335. The cards have black-and-white photos in a thin border above a panel with the player's name and a biography on back. The set totals 240 cards featuring Hall of Famers and Old Timers. Size: 2 1⁄2 × 3 1⁄8 in.
There were also unreleased Play Ball colorized proofs.
The set designated R336 contains 72 cards. Most of the pictures are basically the same as the 1940 issue except for being in color. Size: 2 1⁄2 × 3 1⁄8 in.
A paper version of the Play Ball cards exist as well.
This Bowman set totals 48 cards and were issued in one card packs. The pictures on the fronts are in black and white. Size: 2 1⁄16 × 2 1⁄2 in.Bowman Set- This set totals 240 cards and was issued in five card packs. The Master set has 252 cards due to variations in printing. The photos are black and white on color backgrounds. Size: 2 1⁄16 × 2 1⁄2 in.
Pacific Coast League set- The PCL set totals 36 cards and was distributed in regular Bowman packs or as uncut promotional sheets only on the West Coast and Philadelphia. Unlike the regular Bowman set the PCL cards are in color. Size: 2 1⁄16 × 2 1⁄2 in.
The cards feature a black-and-white photo on the front and player information on the back including a football offer. The set has 108 cards of NFL players and was issued in one card penny packs. Size: 2 1⁄16 × 2 1⁄2 in.
The Bowman basketball set released in two has 72 cards issued in five card packs. Unlike the baseball and football sets of this year, the basketball set was in color and featured BAA players as well as non-player cards in the form of play diagrams. There are 21 rookie cards in the set along with 12 Basketball play cards. This is the first set devoted exclusively to basketball players. Size: 2 1⁄16 × 2 1⁄2 in.
This set of 36 cards was marketed as a 'series for girls' and features primarily B movie actors selected by Photoplay magazine. The pictures on the front have no caption and appear dull gray. The backs are numbered next to the actor's name and include vital statistics and biographical and promotional information. The backs offered premiums that could be obtained by sending in a certain quantity of wrappers and money. Size: 2 1⁄16 × 2 1⁄2 in.
The 36 card FBI set illustrates significant arrests and cases in pastel color. The white bordered fronts are captioned below the picture. The backs feature the case information which was provided by 'G-Men Detective Magazine'. Size: 2 1⁄16 × 2 1⁄2 in.
This 24 count 'flipper' book set featured scenes from matinee movies. Included in the set are such actors as Allan 'Rocky' Lane and Alfonso Bedoya from movies like 'Renegades of Sonora' and 'Angels on the Amazon'. Size: 2 × 2 1⁄2 in.
The set totals 180 cards and was issued in groups of 36 cards. Each of the groups had eight cards from subset A and four cards from subsets B-H. The uncaptioned fronts feature detailed artwork of wild west scenes. The backs offer information about the card title and text as well as the subset title and number with Bowman's 5-star picture card collector club logo. The subsets are A Winning the West, B Indian Customs, C Famous Characters, D Indian Warfare, E Cowboy Life, F Law and Order, G River Days, and H Western Stars. Size: 2 1⁄16 × 2 1⁄2 in.