The roots of contemporary American football can be traced to the late 19th century, when, in 1875, Harvard lost to Tufts. The first professional football league game followed in 1903—the Massillon Tigers won that year’s all-Ohio championship.

Almost from the beginning, marketers tried to capitalize on the popularity of college football. In 1888, cigarette maker Goodwin & Co. published the first football card, an illustration of Henry Beecher, who was the captain of the Yale Bulldogs.

The Beecher card was part of a set of 50 cards celebrating athletes from a variety of sports. In 1894, chewing-tobacco company Mayo Cut Plug released the first actual set of football cards, each bearing a sepia photograph of one of 35 players from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. One Princeton player with the last name of Poe is thought to be the nephew of poet Edgar Allen Poe.

The precursor to the National Football League didn’t arrive on the scene until 1920 and football cards were not produced in sets until after World War II when, according to football-card collector Mike Thomas, Leaf and Bowman began making cards for players such as John Nolan and Larry Olsonoski. Topps cards dominated the 1950s (the Johnny Unitas rookie card from 1955 is a much-traded collectible) and 1960s (ditto Joe Namath’s rookie card from 1965). In that decade, Fleer also entered the picture.

Players were not the only things depicted on cards. In 1960, Fleer issued a set of cards with decals of college-team pennants (Nebraska paired with Purdue, Stanford with Navy, etc.), as well as a set of cards bearing decals of American Football League logos (the gun-toting, cowboy-booted Texans player running for a touchdown in his ten-gallon hat is a collectible classic).

Beyond cards, collectors gravitate to just about anything with a player’s signature on it, from jerseys to helmets to footballs. As with music, unused tickets and ticket stubs are also fairly popular. But one of the most collectible football memorabilia categories is the Super Bowl.

For football fans, it doesn’t get any better than the Super Bowl. Football memorabilia collectors feel the same way about the objects and ephemera commemorating any of the Super Bowls that have been played since 1967, when Bart Starr led the Green Bay Packers to victory over the Kansas City Chiefs...

Signed Super Bowl helmets and footballs are particularly prized, as are signed jerseys. Reproductions of Super Bowl rings have become quite popular in recent years, and the card companies have been diligent about making sure that fans can add special Super Bowl cards to their collections—many are auto-signed to replicate the signatures of players.

Rounding out Super Bowl memorabilia are the actual programs and ticket stubs from the games themselves, for those fans not fortunate enough to actually attend. And then there are the patches, lapel pins, snowglobes, and bobblehead caricatures of players standing next to oversized reproductions of the coveted Super Bowl ring.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vintage Football Card Gallery

Vintage Football Card Gallery

This great database of pro and collegiate football cards from the 1950s and 1960s offers scanned images of cards fo… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Tony Romo 1/1 Nfl Shield On Card Auto Autograph 2014 Immaculate. Dallas Cowboys1986 Topps #161 Jerry Rice Psa 9 ++ High End 50/50 Front 55/45 BackTom Brady 2014 Panini Immaculate Ink Auto 06/10 Patriots2014 Immaculate Odell Beckham Jr./randle/amaro/smith 1/1 Quad Nfl Shield Panini Philip Rivers- # 1/1 Nfl Shield On Card Auto Autograph- 2014 Panini Immaculate.2014 Immaculate Tom Brady Game Worn Jumbo Logo Patch 3 Color Patriots Rare 1999 Elite Johnny Unitas Peyton Manning Passing The Torch 2x On Card Auto /15001981 Topps #216 Joe Montana Psa 9 ++ Old Label High End 10 Sub Surface 49ers2014 Panini Immaculate Logos Jason Witten 1/1 Logo Patch Card Dallas Cowboys1957 Topps #119 Bart Starr Packers Rookie Psa 4+++ Undergraded!Hydrofx Chrome Plated Ohio State Buckeyes National Championship Helmet 1 Of 1Mega 452 1972 Topps Football Set Lot Roger Staubach Rookie Bradshaw Namath +++!2014 Immaculate Premium Patches Auto Tom Brady #08/49 Patriots Super Bowl Mvp1962 Topps Football Complete (176) Card Set ... Tarkenton & Ditka Rc, UnitasImmaculate Collection Peyton Manning Drew Brees Tom Brady Jersey Logo / Tag 3/32012 Absolute Tom Brady Tools Of The Trade Black Quad 4 Gu Jersey Relic Auto 4/52005 Bowman's Best Football #129 Aaron Rodgers Rookie Rc Auto 145/199 Psa 102014 Flawless Jerry Rice 1/1 Logo Patch Platinum Game Worn Non Auto 49ers2014 Panini Immaculate Dan Marino 3cl Patch Auto 35/491971 Topps Football Complete Set (263) W/ Bradshaw Green Rc Mostly Ex-mt1957 Topps Football Complete (154) Card Set ... Starr, Unitas & Hornung RcGame Worn Game Used Vladimir Tarasenko Rookie Helmet! St Louis Blues NhlTom Brady Auto 2000 Fleer Autographics Rookie AutographEmmitt Smith 2014 Immaculate Collection Patch Autograph 17/25 Cowboys1959 Topps Football Complete Card Set (-1) W/ Wrapper ... Unitas, Brown, Starr2014 Immaculate Quad Nfl Shield 1/1 Andre Williams, Archer Devonta Freeman, SimsOdell Beckham Jr 2014 Topps Chrome Mini Football Rookie On Card Auto Sp - Giants2012 Spx Football #206 Andrew Luck Rookie Rc Signed Auto 40/99 Psa 10 Gem Mint1981 Topps Joe Montana Rc Bgs 9 (9.5,9,10,8.5)recentsales 499.99, 460.00, 400.55Rob Gronkowski Signed Autographed Authentic Full Size Patriots Speed Helmet CoaJim Brown Autographed Football HelmetWalter Payton 1998 Topps Stars Rookie Reprints Auto - Bgs 9.5 W/10 Auto - Rare!!Emmitt Smith 2014 Panini Immaculate Ink On Card Auto 06/10 CowboysWalter Payton Dick Butkus Jim Mcmahon Sayers 1/10 Ultimate Quad Bears Logo Patch14-15 Flawless 1/1 Ebay #10/10 Dan Marino Patch Auto Gold Gem Sick & NastyDenny Stephenson | 1997 Original Helmet From Paint Can Designs 2014 Panini Immaculate Tom Brady Auto Premium Patches Autograph 39/49 3 ColorHershey Bears White Authentic Edge Pro Jersey Size 56 Ahl Washington CapitalsAutograph Joe Montana 49ers Football Helmet1998 Bowman Charles Woodson Rc Blue Auto Rookie Autograph Packers Raiders Rare1998 Peyton Manning Sp Authentic Future Watch #14 0073/2000 Psa 9 Rookie CardHuge Game Used Relic Auto Patch Rookie Rc Lot Collection Walter PaytonTom Brady Auto 2000 Score Rookie Preview Autograph1998 Bowman's Best Peyton Manning Rc Atomic Refractor Bp1 26/50 Bo Jackson Signed Autographed Full Size Oakland Raiders Helmet Coa Proof14-15 Flawless Greats Gold Gem Auto Patch Logo #07/10 Joe Namath Sick & NastyLot Of (3) Walter Payton Signed Calling Card Psa/dna Auto Hof Deceased 1999Denny Stephenson | 1993 Troy Lee Designs Bell Original HelmetJoe Montana Signed Autographed Authentic Full Size 49ers Helmet Coa Proof1984 Topps Dan Marino Rookie Rc #123 Psa 9 Mint (no Reserve & Free Shipping)2012 Upper Deck Exquisite Archie Griffin/bart Starr/joe Namath Ensemble 3 AutoGreen Bay Packers Signed Helmet (reggie White Certified)Autograph Terry Bradshaw Steelers Football Helmet1999 Upper Deck Walter Payton Auto Game Jersey Autograph Psa 9 Highest Grade1963 Topps Football #96 Ray Nitschke Green Bay Packers Rc Rookie Hof Psa 8 Nm-mtPeyton Manning Auto 2014 Panini Immaculate Pro Bowl Autograph Broncos Jersey /132013 Peyton Manning John Elway Topps Supreme Dual Auto 12/20 Broncos 1986 Mcdonald's 49ers Black #80 Jerry Rice Hof San Francisco 49ers Psa 10 Emmitt Smith Signed/autographed Dallas Cowboys 16x20 Photo Jsa1981 Topps Football #216 Joe Montana Rookie Rc Hof San Francisco 49ers Bgs 9

Recent News: Football Memorabilia

Source: Google News

'Stoss Boss' announces retirement, reflects on career
Liberty Hill Independent, March 1st

LHHS Assistant Principal Robert Stoss is retiring at the end of the school year after 32 years in public education. He played defensive end for Texas A&M University and proudly displays Aggie football memorabilia in his office. (Shelly Wilkison Photo)...Read more

With view from the top, Wilcox keeps faith in future
Asheville Citizen-Times, February 26th

Inn. Away from the windows, the shelves and walls boast a museum-worthy collection from a lifetime of travel and deep friendships. There are photos of Graham and presidents, airplane models and football memorabilia from Appalachian State University...Read more

Sunderland football memorabilia valuation session at the Stadium of Light
Sunderland Echo, February 25th

Sunderland football memorabilia valuation session at the Stadium of Light. editorial image. 11:53 Wednesday 25 February 2015. 0. Have your say. FANCY having your sporting memorabilia valued for free? Then the Stadium of Light is the place for you next ...Read more

Malaysia Airlines tragedy victim John Alder's football memorabilia raises £26000
The Northern Echo, February 23rd

A UNIQUE collection of football memorabilia belonging to a victim of the Malaysia Airlines tragedy was auctioned yesterday, raising £26,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Bidders from across the UK and as far afield as Singapore, Dubai and ...Read more

Isle of Man football memorabilia in charity auction
Isle of Man Today, February 20th

Programmes from the Isle of Man Football Festival are among those going under the hammer in a charity auction this Sunday. They are part of a huge collection of memorabilia gathered by avid Newcastle United fan John Alder who was killed when Malaysia ...Read more

NFL employee fired after Deflategate football memorabilia scam
Yahoo Sports (blog), February 19th

Mike Kensil's aim when he stomped from the Gillette Stadium press box down to the sidelines during the AFC Championship game was to ensnare the Patriots in a football-doctoring scandal. What the NFL's VP of Game Operations blundered into instead was ...Read more

Sister of John Alder recalls happy memories as MH17 victim's football ...
ChronicleLive, February 17th

Tragic John Alder's sister told today how her brother “did not deserve to die” as she revealed happy memories of their family life together. Joyce Robbins was speaking as she handed over John's collection of football memorabilia, due to be auctioned...Read more

Football collector eyes exhibition in North Korea
Korea Times, February 8th

Boasting over 40,000 pieces of memorabilia, Lee's vast collection ranges from simple items, such as football cards, magazines and football badges, to vintage football boots, World Cup songs on vinyl records and a Bundesliga club trophy. He has the...Read more