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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George Best 'treasure trove' of football memorabilia foundBelfast 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
Property Trax: Wall Street Journal profiles UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez ...Madison.com, August 29th
One thing you won't find, though, is any Motion W art or Bucky Badger replicas or football memorabilia, not even from the consecutive Rose Bowl wins. "I don't want to turn my house into a sports bar," Alvarez told the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper...Read more
BROWN: The difference is..Barrow Journal, August 29th
Going into stores odds are there is a section dedicated to college football memorabilia somewhere in the aisles. The athletes' bodies are more developed so their skills are impeccable and precise. The stakes are higher as the prospects of winning the...Read more
KSU unveils its first collection of football uniformsMarietta Daily Journal, August 28th
Kennesaw State dance team member Amulen Wirsiy poses next to a mannequin donning the Owls' road uniform, following the unveiling of the football program's first set of outfits. In the background is an image of a gold jersey, which will be accompanied...Read more
The sazerac goes from cure-all to New Orleans cocktailBBC News, August 28th
Order a sazerac in New Orleans and a well-meaning local will likely tell you how the city's official cocktail is also the world's first. It's not true, of course – the word “cocktail”, originally referring to a mixture of liquor, sugar, water and...Read more
Education In Full Swing at Levi's Stadium; Denise DeBartolo York Education ...Santa Clara Weekly, August 27th
Van Dixon utilized a vintage football helmet to pose a question to students about how football helmets have evolved through engineering and science. According to the 49ers, they are the first professional sports organization to embrace and promote the ...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
University of Georgia football memorabilia exhibit will look back on Vince ...Online Athens, August 21st
A look at former University of Georgia head football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley's career opens Aug. 29 at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries on the UGA campus. Photos, playbooks, original artwork by Bulldog...Read more