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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With view from the top, Wilcox keeps faith in futureAsheville Citizen-Times, February 26th
Inn. Away from the windows, the shelves and walls boast a museum-worthy collection from a lifetime of travel and deep friendships. There are photos of Graham and presidents, airplane models and football memorabilia from Appalachian State University...Read more
Rob Ford auctioning tie from infamous crack confessionNew York Post, February 26th
Overnight, his “vintage football tie,” which features logos from dozens of NFL teams, skyrocketed to over $2,400 — the most popular of his personal effects on the bidding block. But that's not the only memorabilia Ford is parting with from his heyday...Read more
Sunderland football memorabilia valuation session at the Stadium of LightSunderland Echo, February 25th
Sunderland football memorabilia valuation session at the Stadium of Light. editorial image. 11:53 Wednesday 25 February 2015. 0. Have your say. FANCY having your sporting memorabilia valued for free? Then the Stadium of Light is the place for you next ...Read more
Malaysia Airlines tragedy victim John Alder's football memorabilia raises £26000The Northern Echo, February 23rd
A UNIQUE collection of football memorabilia belonging to a victim of the Malaysia Airlines tragedy was auctioned yesterday, raising £26,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Bidders from across the UK and as far afield as Singapore, Dubai and ...Read more
Isle of Man football memorabilia in charity auctionIsle of Man Today, February 20th
Programmes from the Isle of Man Football Festival are among those going under the hammer in a charity auction this Sunday. They are part of a huge collection of memorabilia gathered by avid Newcastle United fan John Alder who was killed when Malaysia ...Read more
NFL employee fired after Deflategate football memorabilia scamYahoo Sports (blog), February 19th
Mike Kensil's aim when he stomped from the Gillette Stadium press box down to the sidelines during the AFC Championship game was to ensnare the Patriots in a football-doctoring scandal. What the NFL's VP of Game Operations blundered into instead was ...Read more
Sister of John Alder recalls happy memories as MH17 victim's football ...ChronicleLive, February 17th
Tragic John Alder's sister told today how her brother “did not deserve to die” as she revealed happy memories of their family life together. Joyce Robbins was speaking as she handed over John's collection of football memorabilia, due to be auctioned...Read more
Football collector eyes exhibition in North KoreaKorea Times, February 8th
Boasting over 40,000 pieces of memorabilia, Lee's vast collection ranges from simple items, such as football cards, magazines and football badges, to vintage football boots, World Cup songs on vinyl records and a Bundesliga club trophy. He has the...Read more