As promised cadets, I am back with more 1953 Topps original artwork musings after leaving everybody hanging last week. There are five paintings of unissued cards in the current REA auction, all from the Sy Berger collection:
Richie Ashburn (Philadelphia Phillies):
Max Lanier (New York Giants):
Joe Tipton (Cleveland Indians):
Harry Brecheen (St. Louis Browns):
Ken Wood (Washington Senators):
6 cards obviously are missing from the 1953 High Numbers, likely due to contractual issues with Bowman.
Max Lanier was released by the Giants on May 15th so his card may have been withdrawn due to the fact he was no longer with NY. Ken Wood's final game with the Senators was on May 23rd, whereupon he was either released, sent down or quit (can't tell).
In addition, the 2nd issue of Baseball Cards magazine in Autumn 1981 had an article with pictures of three other unissued artworks intended for this set:
Andy Pafko (Brooklyn Dodgers)
Pete Castiglione (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Billy Cox (Brooklyn Dodgers)
Pafko is shown as a Dodger (ignore the ersatz card back created for the article) and the author speculates he was pulled due to his preseason trade on January 17th to the Braves. Castiglione was also traded but not until June 14th.
Ashburn was Topps in 51, 52 and 54, Bowman from 49-55.
Brecheen was Topps 51, 52, 54 and 55 and in Bowman from 49-52.
Castiglione was on 52 Topps and Bowman from 50-52 and 54.
Cox was in 51 and 52 Topps and was Bowman from 49-55.
Lanier was 52 Topps and 50-52 Bowman.
Pafko was in 51,52 and 54 Topps, 49-55 Bowman.
Tipton appeared in 52 Topps and Bowman from 49-51 and 53-54.
Wood was 52 Topps and 50, 51 and 53 Bowman.
So if Lanier, Wood and Pafko were pulled due to team changes, that leaves five and possibly only four paintings to fill 6 slots, depending upon the Castiglione timeline in respect of the card production. Ashburn, Cox and Tipton look to have had iron clad Bowman contracts and Brecheen and Castiglione may have had such bad luck they could appear in neither set (depending on the trade timing, of course with Castiglione). Wood may have been Bowman bound as well and was shown as a Senator in the 53 Bowman color set. Lanier is a tossup but I would lean Bowman contract with him but he could have had the same fate as Brecheen and Castiglione. Pafko looks possibly Bowmanesque as well and appears as a Brave in the 53 Bowman B&W set, which was presumably issued after the color cards.
Has anyone ever seen evidence of any other unissued 53 artwork? I feel like there should be at least one more painting out there, if not two.
Interestingly, the article in Baseball Cards by Bill Bossert indicates he also purchased three paintings of issued players at the time. This gives us at least 121 known paintings that were issued and 8 that were unissued, so of the 282 paintings (at a minimum) that were created, just over 42% have been confirmed as still in existence. REA's catalog reveals some were given to various executives at Topps and MLB and no doubt a few players probably finagled some over the years so I don't expect we'll ever have the full set reconstituted in aboriginal form but it would be a righteous thing to see.