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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1920s football comes to life at RI's Douglas ParkQuad-Cities Online, August 23rd
Moline Universal Tractor quarterback John Roche tries to evade a tackle during a "vintage" football game against the Rock Island Independents on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, at Douglas Park in Rock Island. Rock Island ended up on top 24-0. Buy this photo...Read more
Apollo Historical Society celebrates its own 45-year historyTribune-Review, August 23rd
There also is a display for the defunct Apollo High School with class pictures, yearbooks, football memorabilia and other items. “(It's) for all the Apollo Tigers fans,” Ott says. “That seems to get a lot of interest. We sell Apollo Tigers license...Read more
Cambridge football fan launches new app featuring world's 'fastest game of ...Cambridge News, August 21st
And if players do meet with success in their games, they could also be in with the chance of winning football memorabilia, such as old England shirts, which have been bought from eBay. "We think we have got the reasons to play the app anyway but adding...Read more
Q&A: Trinity's Antoine SmithFayetteville Observer, August 21st
Any football memorabilia? I used to collect footballs. I just love football. That's it. I love football. Do you have a favorite football movie? 'Gridiron Gang.' They give me motivation. People going through a lot, some of them didn't know how to play...Read more
Area Schools Raise Funds By Selling CityScope High School Football Collector's ...The Chattanoogan, August 19th
For the fourth year in a row, the CityScope magazine will present its annual High School Football Collector's Edition, which will help raise money for schools while profiling 39 teams from nine different counties, along with this year's top college...Read more
Fernsler's family donates artifacts to Pottsville AreaRepublican & Herald, August 17th
They included photographs of former school board members, copies of speeches made by Howard S. Fernsler, vintage football game programs and school district stationery. “Also, Dad's appointment books are there,” Howard Jr. said. Aside from vintage high ...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 gamersIsthmus, 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