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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Vintage Football Card Gallery
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Football Memorabilia
Source: Google News
Super Bowl's Arizona host may be on the hook for millionsCBS News, January 24th
In Phoenix, they're building the NFL Experience - a Disneyland-like arcade of football memorabilia and entertainment that has in the past attracted 200,000 fans. "Downtown Phoenix will be the place to be - again the centralized location for all the...Read more
Vince For VetsNew Hampshire Business Review, January 23rd
A live auction of football memorabilia, signed live by Vince, will cap off the evening. Tickets are on sale now at www.souhegan.netand will be available for gift giving this holiday season. Please call the Chamber office at 603-673-4360 for more...Read more
Hypocritical Mark Brunell questions Tom Brady's integrityWEEI.com, January 23rd
Mark Brunell has filed a bankruptcy reorganization plan that apparently calls for him to pay for some of the football memorabilia he received during his career, including his 2010 Super Bowl ring and his 1991 college national championship ring. The...Read more
Autograph or 'selfie'? Which would you rather have?talkSPORT.com, January 23rd
The chance to meet a footballer and get an autograph was once the staple of being a football fan for generations of supporters, but it looks as though those days are gone, with a 'selfie' now the most sough-after piece of memorabilia. According to...Read more
Meet John, the accountant with 3000 Bradford City programmesNew Statesman, January 22nd
I have no interest or connection with Bradford City but I do love football memorabilia, the older the better, on any old club, anywhere. The other thing collectors think is: “Goodness, my treasures, they are just so amazing that one day I will turn...Read more
ECB Proposes €50 Billion a Month in Bond BuyingWall Street Journal, January 21st
Paul Vigna and Jon Hilsenrath discuss the European Central Bank's bond-buying program, and Dave Hunt looks at football memorabilia ahead of the Super Bowl. Transcript. This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate...Read more
Castle Shannon woman set to cash in on sports memorabilia collectionTribune-Review, January 20th
“Part of the rarity that falls into this collection is that for vintage football materials from the 1950s to 1970s, there's so little that turns up,” he said. “It's a rough game. Things are torn, used, thrown away. Things don't survive like in some...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