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    

Rare Burnley V Manchester United Fa Cup 4th Round Football Programme 1909 RareTom Brady 2000 Contenders Championship Ticket Rc Auto Sp Michigan Jersery #Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders Sp Rookie Card Auto Autograph! Johnny Unitas Rare Autographed Baltimore Colts Authentic Mini-helmet2005 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Aaron Rodgers Rc Auto Packers Mint Perfect2012 Panini Contenders Football Andrew Luck Rookie #201 Colts Auto Psa 102000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket Tom Brady Auto Rc 77/100Tom Brady Patriots 2000 Playoff Contenders #144 Rookie Rc Ticket Bgs 9 Auto 102000 Tom Brady Playoff Contenders Auto Rookie Ticket Rc Bgs 9 10 Autograph HotNo Reserve Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Bgs 8.5 Rc Rookie 2000 Patriots Auto2004 Patriots Sb 39 Team Signed Authentic Patriots Helmet * Tom Brady, VinatieriRussell Wilson 2012 National Treasures 2 Color Rc Auto Patch Seahawks /99Joe Montana 49ers Autographed Official Nfl Leather Football * Montana Hologram#1/1 Super Bowl Ticket: Johnny Manziel/terrance West Rc Auto 2014 Contenders Rps2000 Sp Authentic #118 Tom Brady Rc Bgs 9.5 Gem Mint (151 Out Of 1250)2012 National Treasures Peyton Manning Dan Marino Elway Favre /5 Bgs 9.5 1/1!2000 Leaf Limited Edition Tom Brady Rc Rookie #'d 15/50 Graded Bgs 9 Mint W/ 9.5Emmitt Smith 2014 Topps Triple Threads Auto Patch 1/1 Pigskin Dallas Cowboys2005 Playoff Contenders Aaron Rodgers Auto Rookie Rc Packers Clean2012 National Treasures Eli Peyton Manning Aaron Rodgers Brees /10 Bgs 9.5 1/1!Tom Brady Autographed New England Patriots Riddell Mini Helmet- Gai CoaJenson Button 1/2 Scale F1 Helmet By Bell Sports2000 Contenders Tom Brady Rookie Auto 144!Pittsburgh Steelers Steel Curtain Autographed Mini-helmet * Psa/dnaPeyton Manning Autograph / Signed Denver Broncos Jersey- Ga Coa1972 Topps Football Series 2 Unopened Wax Box Bbce1976 Topps Football Cello Box Bbce Authenticated!!! Super Rare Payton Rc Year!!!2000 Tom Brady Spx Rookie Gem Mint Psa 10 !1986 Topps Football Unopened Rack Box With Jerry Rice Rookie Card On Top Bbce2000 Sp Authentic Tom Brady Psa 9 Mint #118 Rookie Serial #1062/1250Genuine 1967 Super Bowl 1 Ticket Afl Vs Nfl Beautiful! Packers Vs Chiefs2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Autographed Rc Patriots Sgc 98 Gem Mint!!2000 Press Pass Tom Brady Auto Psa 10 1 Of 12 Certified Autograph Gem Mint2000 Fleer Autographics Tom Brady Rookie Rc Auto AutographTom Brady Signed Throwback Mini Helmet New England Patriots Mounted Memories2008 John Lynch Team Issued #47 Navy/home Rbk New England Patriots JerseySuper Bowl Xlix Seattle Mix SkittlesTom Brady Autographed Patriots Authentic Reebok Game Jersey * Tri-star2014 Panini Flawless Tom Brady Auto 4 Color Patch 24/25 New England Patriots2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Rookie Auto #144 Rc Autograph Patriots !" Sb Xli Mvp " Peyton Manning Signed Jersey Auto " 12/18 " Size 52 Steiner CoaAndrew Luck 2012 Panini Rc Rookie Autograph Pink Nfl Logo Patch Auto Sp $400Antique 1915 Concordia University Leather Football Helmet Ny Ploetz Game PlayedTom Brady 2014 Flawless 4 Color Auto Patch New England Patriots /25Huge Sports Cd Collection Lot Auto Patch Kevin Durant Peyton Manning Duke SniderDrew Brees-darren Sproles Signed Saints 2011 Stat Pro Line Helmet - Le 5/9 - Uda2014 Contenders Isaiah Crowell Sb Ticket Auto 1/1 Browns Best Rc Super Bowl!!!!!Ben Roethlisberger 2011 Game Used Issued Nike Cleats Promo Pittsburgh Steelers2000 Tom Brady Playoff Contenders Auto Rookie Ticket Rc Bgs 8.5 10 Autograph Hot1981 Joe Montana Topps Rookie (rc) Psa 9 Mint, Really Nice Card!!! Wow!!!1960 Green Bay Packers Yearbook-packers First Yearbook With Inserts1984 Topps Football #63 John Elway Broncos Rc Rookie Hof Bgs 9.5 W/ (2) 10's 1977 Super Bowl Dallas Cowboys Danbury Mint CollectiblePeyton Manning 2014 Panini Flawless Greats Auto Jumbo 2 Color Patch Sp #01/10Barry Sanders Lions Autographed Official Nfl Football W/2 Insc * Psa/dnaTom Brady 2007 Finest Moments #fma-tb Auto Autograph New England Patriots1973 Jeff Siemon Minnesota Vikings Nfl Pro Bowl Signed, Game Worn Durene Jersey09 Exquisite Peyton & Eli Manning Drew Brees Mcnabb Quad Patch On Card Auto 1/52000 Tom Brady Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket #144 Rc Patriots AutoNike Super Bowl Xlix 2015 Seattle Seahawks Fly Rush Jacket Xl Media Day Jacket

Recent News: Football Memorabilia

Source: Google News

OVERNIGHT REGULATION: House GOP doubles down on anti-reg agenda
The Hill, January 29th

Football memorabilia: Federal authorities confiscated nearly $20 million worth of counterfeit sports memorabilia ahead of the Super Bowl. http://bit.ly/1yaN8pm. License plates: Senior lawmakers are pressing the Justice Department to explain how and why...Read more

Roger Goodell Could Get $50K In Sports Auction For Deflategate Football
Forbes, January 29th

Hot air. This vintage football pump for sale on eBay has been in the possession of a sole owner since 1955. Now that Belichick is on the cutting edge of football inflation he's welcome to test it in future experiments. But, warns Evans, “You need to...Read more

MGT And Vivid Celebrate The Launch Of Daily Fantasy Sports Site ...
CNNMoney, January 28th

New players are encouraged to sign up quickly for the "Big Game Giveaway" on Sunday, offering historic football memorabilia and other great prizes. For more information visit https://vivid.egnyte.com/fl/CDZjNpEUNE#folder-link/. Ash Hollywood is one of...Read more

Super Bowl Party Ideas: 9 Ways To Celebrate The Patriots vs. Seahawks Game
Latin Times, January 28th

Boelter Brands sells Bud Light party sets on Amazon, in addition to a Bud Light pitcher, you get a 12-pack of plastic souvenir cups, which means that even though your friends won't be at Super Bowl XLIX, they can still bring home some football memorabilia...Read more

DPS seizes over 100 items of fake football memorabilia
KVOA Tucson News, January 26th

The Arizona Department of Public Safety seized over 100 items of fake football memorabilia during a traffic stop south of Phoenix Friday morning. According to DPS, an officer pulled over a Toyota Tundra for speeding on State Route 387 near milepost 5 ...Read more

DPS confiscates nearly 100 pieces of counterfeit football memorabilia from ...
ABC15 Arizona, January 26th

Hide Caption. Previous Next. PHOENIX - A Washington man was stopped with more than 100 pieces of counterfeit football memorabilia in Phoenix last Friday, according to police. Matthew Darlington, 35, was pulled over for speeding around midnight on Jan...Read more

Review: Berkeley Rep's 'X's and O's' tackles football's disturbing legacy
Eureka Times Standard, January 25th

BERKELEY -- Playwrights KJ Sanchez and Jenny Mercein describe themselves as football "superfans." But their latest work, getting its world premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre through March 1, could make even the most ardent football lovers question ...Read more

Three-mile chain of football shirts and scarves showcased at Stockport County ...
Manchester Evening News, January 14th

The father of a young boy with a rare genetic condition has created a three-mile chain of football memorabilia and showcased it at Edgeley Park on Saturday. Mark Lund's son Alfie, seven, is one of just seven children in the UK with a rare disorder...Read more