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    

2014 Kelvin Benjamin Topps Inception Nfl Shield Logo Patch Rc Auto - True 1/12014 Topps Finest Atomic Superfractor 1/1 Die Cut Auto Carlos Hyde Rc 49ers Sp!Perfect Manchester United Vintage Adidas 1990/92 Home Football Shirt Giggs 11Peyton Manning 2013 Topps Museum Collection Silver Autograph Auto #/5 *broncos*2013-14 Immaculate Collection - Autograph Game Jersey Patch - Gary Payton #08/10Peyton Manning Autographed Denver Broncos Orange Jersey- Mounted HologramJohnny Unitas Peyton Manning 1999 Elite Passing The Torch Dual Auto 96/100 Bgs 82014 Finest Le'veon Bell Superfractor Auto Steelers Logo Patch Jersey Card 1/12012 Ud Sp Authentic Alshon Jeffery Rookie Patch Auto 1/1 Exquisite Bears Stunning Manchester United Vintage Adidas 1988/90 Home Football Shirt Hughes 10Manchester United 1975 Match Worn Red Number 15 Admiral Home Football Shirt Priest Holmes Signed Game Used Kansas City Chiefs Nfl Jersey W/ Jamal Lewis Coa1998 Topps Rookie Reprint Walter Payton Certified Auto !!!! Crazy Rare !Brett Favre Signed Auto Green Bay Packers Jersey 95 96 97 Mvp Holo AutographedPeyton Manning Autographed Signed Denver Broncos Blue Jersey- Manning HologramOriginal, Spectacular 1979 Oklahoma Sooners Football Orange Bowl 10k RingPeyton Manning Autographed Denver Broncos Revolution Proline Helmet- Steiner Spt2011 Topps Five Star Jerry Rice 49ers Nfl Logo Patch Auto 13/50Peyton Manning Auto 2012 Panini Totally Certified Platinum Gold 10/10 Ebay 1/1Walter Payton Autograph Full Size Helmet Sweetness 16,726 YardsWalter Payton Hof #34 Signed Chicago Bears Jersey Auto + Inscription Psa/dna LoaTom Brady 2000 Sp Authentic Rookie Rc /1250 Bgs 9 Raw Card ReviewDerek Jeter Autographed #2 Baseball Batting Helmet Jsa Loa Full Size Future Hof2013-14 Immaculate Gary Payton Gu Prime Patch Relic Auto 1/20 First Made 1/1 HofVintage Bobblehead Nodder Football Nfl Sports Specialties Washington Redskins 67Nick Foles/eagles 2012 Upper Deck Exquisite Rc Rookie Auto Patch Card #84/1501998 Sp Authentic Peyton Manning Rookie #14 Future Watch #1641/2000Joe Montana Rookie Auto 1981 Topps #216 Rc Psa 9 Red Label Rc AutographPeyton Manning 1998 Sp Authentic Rookie Card #14 0842/2000 Beckett Bgs 9 MintBarry Sanders Signed Lions Full Size Stat Helmet Coa Photo SigningGame Used Houston Oilers Jersey Sean Jones #99 Greenbay Packers La Raiders TitanJerry Rice Autographed Signed 49ers Red '94 Tb Stat Jersey Rice Hologram2012 Topps Supreme Brett Favre Aaron Rodgers Dual Auto 25/25Aaron Rodgers 2005 Contenders Auto Rookie Rc /530 Autograph Bgs 8.5 10 PackersJerry Rice Signed Auto San Francisco 49ers Full Size Helmet Jsa AutographedManchester United 12/13 Player Issue / Spec Red Home Gingham Football Shirt Barry Sanders Signed/autographed Detroit Lions F/s Helmet Jsa Witness13-14 Immaculate Gary Payton Auto Patch Acetate Jersey No 10/20 Sick Patch!Percy Harvin Signed/ Autographed Seattle Seahawks F/s Helmet Sb Xlviii Jsa Brett Favre Signed Auto Green Bay Packers Jersey Hologram AutographedBrett Favre Autographed Green Bay Packers Framed Football Jersey, Frave Coa1999 Topps Stadium Club Jerry Rice Randy Moss Co Signers Bgs 9.5/101986 Topps Football Unopened Wax Box 36 Packs Bbce Sealed & Authenticated Rc HofManchester United 13/14 Player Issue Yellow Goalkeeper Football Shirt L/s Bnwt1967 Super Bowl One Nfl-afl Championship Game Football Program Great ShapeJim Kelly Signed/ Autographed Buffalo Bills Full Size Helmet Hof 02 Jsa Witness Vintage Nfl Baltimore Colts Super Bowl Full Size Pennant Football 19711971 Topps Football #156 Terry Bradshaw Rookie Pittsburgh Steelers1976 Topps # 148 Walter Payton Rookie Card Graded Psa 9 Mint!1/1 Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket Parallel Error Rc 2012 Ryan Mallett Team Issued #15 Nike Navy/home New England Patriots Jersey1992 Pro Line Port Muhammad Ali Signed Auto Team Nfl Gai Certified AuthenticWalter Payton Signed White Panel Football Wpf Coa Sgc Authentic CoaJohn Elway Signed/autographed Denver Broncos Fs Helmet Jsa2005 Lonie Paxton Team Issued #66 Silver Reebok New England Patriots JerseyJohn Elway Signed Autographed Authentic Full Size Broncos Helmet Coa ProofNew Dallas Cowboys Nfl Football Real Glass Neon Light Beer Bar Pub SignNy Giants Super Bowl 42 Xlii Amani Toomer Game Used Worn Helmet Rare Photo MatchMontee Ball 2013 National Treasures Nfl Logo Shield..true 1/1. Don't Miss Out!!!Jofa Hockey Helmet

Recent News: Football Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Home of Former Coach Burns
Go Blue Ridge, September 22nd

While no one was at the house when fire struck late the night of August 26th, scores of college football memorabilia Brown collected in his long coaching career were lost. The home, located in Grandfather Golf and Country Club at 689 Spillway Drive, is...Read more

SC Paderborn on right path to Bundesliga acceptance
GiveMeSport, September 22nd

the Bundesliga despite being one of the most heavily watched and talked about leagues in the world is not all about Class A professionals and their extravagant clubs and lives, but indeed small community orientated clubs which breathe vintage football...Read more

Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota takes 'Hey, cover boy' jokes in stride ...
The Oregonian - OregonLive.com, September 18th

But Oregon's quarterback, a front runner in the Heisman Trophy chase, just shrugs when talking about the magazine cover and the attention it draws. He's autographed a couple, he said, but he doesn't have a stack of them — or any football memorabilia...Read more

Woodland at Vintage football preview
Napa Valley Register, September 17th

Last week: Nolan Dahler ran for 217 yards and three TDs in Woodland's 37-24 win at Fairfield. Joe Cavagnaro ran for 150 yards and four touchdowns in Vintage's 32-13 win at Davis. “The offensive line paved the way for Joe C,” Vintage coach Kyle Hofmann ...Read more

Subway's LSU Football Collector's Cup Available
LSUSports.net, September 4th

BATON ROUGE – The 2014 LSU Football limited edition collector's cup is now available at Baton Rouge area Subway Restaurants. The cup features the three, iconic "L-S-U" flags that the cheerleaders carry across the endzone after an LSU touchdown...Read more

Petaluma at Vintage football preview
Napa Valley Register, September 3rd

Last week: Petaluma pulled out a 13-12 win against rival Santa Rosa, which it had lost 33-0 to in 2013. Jared Horn threw for 101 yards in Vintage's 27-3 home loss to Woodcreek-Roseville, but was knocked out of the game in the third quarter due to a ...Read more

George Best 'treasure trove' of football memorabilia found
Belfast Telegraph, August 30th

A treasure trove of the legendary Belfast man's football memorabilia is with his family after being held in a London bank vault for more than a decade. These are the first photographs of keepsakes that were of sentimental value to the sportsman...Read more

Collingwood secures treasure trove of rare football memorabilia including Len ...
Herald Sun, August 26th

COLLINGWOOD has been able to secure a treasure trove of rare football memorabilia worth almost $1.5 million, including Len Thompson's 1972 Brownlow Medal. An undisclosed collector and benefactor has struck a complex deal with the Magpies that will ...Read more