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.
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PLAY-OFFS 2015: Street trader helps make a big noise about Swindon TownThis Is Wiltshire, May 23rd
Brian, whose football memorabilia business is based in north Wales, said: “We understand that it costs a lot for a family to get to Wembley. "I think this is something which football clubs sometimes forget so we try to provide items at fan-friendly...Read more
Interiors: A Brooklyn house of two halvesTelegraph.co.uk, May 22nd
When the photographers and art directors Jeremy Floto and Cassandra Warner outgrew their “great” loft, “with a not-so-great landlord”, in Red Hook, Brooklyn, they scoured New York for a family home that they could transform with their eclectic, ...Read more
88-year-old Bud Grant joins Twitter, trolls PatriotsLas Vegas Review-Journal, May 22nd
Grant celebrated his 88th birthday Wednesday, the day his garage sale opened and he joined Twitter, and he has since tweeted images of the football memorabilia and other items up for grabs. Somehow, we can't imagine Patriots coach Bill Belichick...Read more
Union Station kicks off Gridiron Glory exhibitfox4kc.com, May 21st
Hallways lined with projected antique football films lead the way to more football treasures borrowed from the Hall of Fame. “It was a lot of digging through historical footage and things like that,” said Gridiron Glory Art Director Micah Barta. Barta...Read more
Football official from Roanoke County remembered for 50 years of service and ...Roanoke Times, May 21st
The Roanoke County resident and Newport News native was a Southern Conference football official for 35 years, spending 15 more working for the league as an observer of the men in striped shirts...Read more
Damn and blast – my epic football collection is going down in valueNew Statesman, May 14th
A football memorabilia shop in Newcastle. Photo: Ian Horrocks/Getty Images. In 1953, coronation year, Stanley Matthews had had 21 years as a professional footballer – but had never won an FA Cup winner's medal, the medal all players and all boys had ...Read more
Abdallah Chaaban hopes to showcase football memorabiliaYahoo! Maktoob News, May 8th
“It's simple. You only live once, so live your passion,” reasons Abdallah Chaaban about a football memorabilia collection he has painstakingly built up over the past decade and a half. The Lebanese sales and marketing director, 46, has an extensive...Read more
Football memorabilia stolen in burglary - can you help police identify two men?Torquay Herald Express, April 28th
POLICE are appealing for information after commemorative football memorabilia was stolen during a burglary in the South West. Arsenal and Plymouth Argyle football club commemorative scarves and pins, cash and jewellery were among the items taken ...Read more