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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Recent News: Football Memorabilia
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President Obama visits town devastated by mudslideWashington Post, April 22nd
The truck was covered in football memorabilia and signs bearing the name of Jovon Mangual, a 13-year-old who died in the disaster.. Obama spoke of a letter he received from an unidentified firefighter. The writer said that people operating machinery...Read more
Lindy Berry, a former TCU All-America quarterback, dies at 86Fort Worth Star Telegram, April 22nd
His son, John Berry of Dallas, said he learned that his father had told his mother to put away all of his football memorabilia. “When I was little, he asked Mom to hide everything from me,” John Berry said. “He said 'I want to be a Dad. I don't want to...Read more
Bobby Moore's shirt, other football memorabilia on display in UAEgulfnews.com, April 21st
Dubai: England captain Bobby Moore's shirt from the iconic post match shirt-exchange and embrace with Brazil legend Pele is on display at Harvey Nichols at Mall of the Emirates until May 20 as part of the store's 'Sport is Great' football fashion...Read more
Thieves leave young Liverpool fan from Swindon in tearsThis Is Wiltshire, April 20th
YOUNG Liverpool fan Harry Standen has been left devastated after thieves stole his much treasured football memorabilia during a break-in on Friday night. Harry, 11, is heartbroken after the thieves broke into his Taw Hill home and stole a shirt signed...Read more
Kenya's Vintage Football Club All Set for the Dubai International CupAllAfrica.com, April 16th
Kenya's Vintage Football Club All Set for the Dubai International Cup. 16 April 2014. Kenya's Vintage soccer club will are in Dubai to represent the country at the 2014 Dubai International Cup which began on Monday and ends on April 19. The Dubai Cup ...Read more
Retro And Vintage Football Fever Takes Hold At Atom Retro for Summer 2014DigitalJournal.com, April 16th
Football fever: it's not just a World Cup occasion. At Atom Retro, vintage football t-shirts are an all year round thing. With the World Cup looming, online retro clothing retailer Atom Retro have increased their offering of classic, vintage looking...Read more
Adam's treasured football collection up for saleLiverpool Echo, March 30th
Football memorabilia belonging to a Liverpool FC fan who died after a long battle with cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis goes up for auction on Monday. Adam Walker, from Formby, was a regular face at Anfield where he would wait by the players...Read more
Police continue investigation into how football memorabilia was stolen from ...Greenfield Daily Reporter, March 29th
AUBURN, Alabama — Auburn police say they're still investigating how thousands of dollars in football memorabilia and equipment -- including jerseys worn by past Auburn stars Bo Jackson and Cam Newton -- were stolen from the football locker room at ...Read more