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    

Vintage Adidas Germany Away Shirt Jersey Football Trikot World Cup 1990/91 L1981 Topps #216 Joe Montana 49ers Rc Rookie Hof Psa 9 MintWalter Payton Signed /autograph Chicago Bears Jersey 5 Inscriptions Wp Steiner Amazing Sports Card Lot 1/1 Patch Auto Rookies Bgs 10 Kershaw Mantle Elway2000 Tom Brady Rookie Auto Fleer Autographics Gold!! #7/50!!!! Rare Rookie AutoSebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing Mini Helmet (1:2) - 2011 Limited Edition2011-2012 #51 Heggie Notre Dame Game Worn Football Helmet Hydrofx Revo Speed2012 Tim Tebow Team Issued #5 Nike Away/white New England Patriots JerseyChampion Seattle Supersonics Jersey Blank Gary Payton Xavier Mcdaniel Auto'd Vtg1984 Topps Usfl Football #52 Steve Young Rookie Rc Hof Psa 9 Mint CenteredSeattle Seahawks #39 Brandon Browner Game Used Nike Jersey 8/23/13 Size 40 Coa1971 Topps Football #156 Terry Bradshaw Rookie Rc Hof Psa 8 Nm-mt " High End "2014 National Treasures Jerry Rice Notable Nickname Auto "flash 80" /25 Bgs 9.5 2014 Topps Museum Collection Peyton Manning Silver Framed Autograph 8 /25 AutoRare 1930's Ohio State Buckeyes Lowe & Campbell Winged Leather Football HelmetElfrid Payton 2014-15 Preferred Silhouettes Rc Auto Patch #15/251976 Topps Rookie Walter Payton #148 Psa 8 Nm-mt Chicago Bears Hof CenteredAutographed Tom Brady Official Nfl Duke Game Football-tristar/coa & Hologram2014 Flawless Football Johnny Manziel Emerald Auto Rc 2/5 # To Jsy #8Quad Rookie Nfl Logo Shield Patch 1/1 Derek Carr Sammy Watkins Clowney West RcTom Brady Autograph Pewter Proline HelmetMarcus Mariota 2015 Panini Contenders Bowl Ticket Ssp Variation Auto! S#d 63/99!1992 Stadium Club #683 Brett Favre Green Bay Packers Psa 10 Gem MintBrett Favre Brian Brohm 08 Exquisite Signature Jersey Numbers Patch /5 Auto Rare2008 Ultimate 1997 Upper Deck Legends Auto Brett Favre #182 Bgs 9Jimmy Garoppolo Rpa 2014 Panini Flawless Emerald Auto # 4/5 Patriots RcTom Brady Signed /autograph New England Patriots On-field Jersey HologramRich Gannon Autographed Raiders Full Size Proline Helmet Mounted Memories CoaNfl Hof Bears Walter Payton Autographed Signed 8x10 Football Photo Sgc Coa Psa1986 Topps #161 Jerry Rice "high End" Rookie Rc Bgs 9 Mint1981 Topps #216 Joe Montana Rc Rookie Card Auto Signed Psa/dna Certified2014 National Treasures Notable Nicknames Brett Favre Auto 6/25 Packers2000 Donruss Elite "passing The Torch" Bart Starr Auto #048/150 PackersEmmitt Smith Signed/autographed Dallas Cowboys Custom Blue Jersey - Jsa1990 Score Supplemental Emmitt Smith Dallas Cowboys #101t Psa 10 Gem Mint Tj Oshie Game Used Worn Photo Matched Helmet St. Louis Blues Usa Olympics 20141965 Series Green Bay Packers Gold Base Football Bobble Head Nodder Nice!2015 Panini Clear Vision Football Richard Sherman Signatures Auto 27/50 + Bonus2012 Topps Chrome Russell Wilson Auto Autograph Rookie Card Bgs 9.5 SeahawksVtg 70s 80s Nfl Gumball Machine Mini Football Helmets W/stands Vending Toys LotTom Brady Autographed Jersey2014 National Treasures Carlos Hyde S.f.49er's Hats Off Sick Patch Auto Rc 4/62008 Ultimate 1997 Upper Deck Legends Auto Jerry Rice #184 Bgs 1981 Topps Football #216 Joe Montana Rc Hof " High End " Psa 9 Mint Centered1950 Sunderland Afc V Manchester United Football Programme V.rareManchester United Blue Football Shirt 1990 1992 Season Fantasy Football Championship 55" Pu Leather Belt 30"-50" Waist2007 Upper Deck Premier Brett Favre Dual Patch Auto Sp /25 Bgs 9 PackersBarry Sanders Signed Autographed Authentic Proline Full Size Lions Helmet Coa2014 Emmitt Smith Immaculate Ink Autograph On Card Auto Cowboys 07/49 Aaron Rodgers Of The Packers Hand Signed Official Duke Football With Steiner CoaJoe Montana /15 49er Auto Quad Game Worn Jersey Logo Patch Sp 2013 Topps Supreme1957 Topps Football #138 John Johnny Unitas Rookie Rc Hof Colts Psa 6 Ex-mt Vintage Nfl Football Buffalo Bills Bobblehead Nodder Bobber Bobble Head Troy Aikman Emmitt Smith Autographed Mini Helmet Certified. Mounted Memories 1986 Mike Wilcher Los Angeles Rams Nfl Football Game Worn Football Jersey..mears1996-1997 Manchester United Hme Football Shirt.medium Adult.vintage.long Sleeve.2014 National Treasures Carlos Hyde Hats Off Auto Rc 1/4 Sf 49ers Sick PatchMarcus Mariota Signed/autographed Oregon Full Size Helmet W/3 Inscriptions--gtsm2014 Panini National Treasures Cody Latimer Denver Broncos Auto Patch Rc 01/14

Recent News: Football Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Vic Beasley looks to break mold of recent top-prospect pass rushers
Anderson Independent Mail, July 28th

Atlanta Falcons' Justin Hardy, from left, Vic Beasley, Jr., Tevin Coleman and Jalen Collins wear vintage football helmets during a visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Canton, Ohio, as part of the NFL Rookies Symposium...Read more

Life-altering circumstances haven't changed former Irish coach Lou Holtz
The Elkhart Truth, July 27th

A half-century of football memorabilia gone. Personal items gone. “We didn't lose anything we were going to take to heaven anyway,” Holtz said. “The only thing you can take to heaven is your children. “All the things you lose… You go to brush your...Read more

Football! The Exhibition At The Reagan Presidential Library
CBS Local, July 25th

Call me biased but I adore football memorabilia. I love seeing how the game, its equipment and players have changed throughout the years. Football! The Exhibition at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum can satisfy even the hungriest ...Read more

VHS enjoys benefits from seventh annual Wildcat Auction and Shootout
Valdosta Daily Times, July 25th

Thursday's auction night featured both a silent and live auction with items for sale including: autographed professional and collegiate sports memorabilia, Valdosta Wildcats football memorabilia, gift certificates to the most popular restaurants and...Read more

Delray's best-kept secret: Carbon Athletic Club
Detroit Metro Times (blog), July 22nd

Scads of amateur football memorabilia from the 1930s and 1940s adorn the walls. A few men sit hunched over cards at a table talking — at least until a deafening blast from the horn of a passing freight train stops all conversation for 15 long seconds...Read more

Rare piece of football memorabilia stolen in Birkenhead burglary
Liverpool Echo, July 3rd

Merseyside Police is appealing for the public's help after a rare piece of football memorabilia was stolen from a house in Birkenhead. At around 5.10pm on Monday, June 29 a member of the public reported hearing a house alarm sounding and seeing four ...Read more

County Football Insider: Ex-Vintage football assistant Sutter takes helm at ...
Napa Valley Register, April 2nd

Greg Sutter, the Vintage High football team's quarterbacks coach last season, will be facing the Crushers in the fall as the new head coach at Rodriguez. 2015-04-02T19:37:00Z 2015-04-03T23:45:06Z County Football Insider: Ex-Vintage football assistant ...Read more

Calling all vintage football gamers
Isthmus, March 5th

As co-founder of the Madison Tecmo Super Bowl, the largest and longest-running public tournament in the United States dedicated to an ancient videogame for the original Nintendo Entertainment System, Josh and his older brother, Chet, will welcome more ...Read more