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    

1999 Walter Payton Upper Deck Retro Auto Very Rare Sp Autograph Chicago Bears 1998 Bowman Peyton Manning Indianapolis Colts Rc Rookie Auto Bgs 10 Pristine2014-15 National Treasures Elfrid Payton Rookie Auto Patch Gold #16 Of 25! 4c!2000 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Tom Brady Rc Auto Patriots1978 Earl Campbell Houston Oilers Rookie Year Game Worn Football JerseyManchester United Marouane Fellaini Match Worn And Signed Football BootsElfrid Payton 2014-15 National Treasures Rc Auto Jersey Patch #02/102005 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Aaron Rodgers Rc Auto Green Bay Packers2012 Absolute Football Tools Of The Trade Tom Brady Quad Jersey Auto 5/51972 Topps Football #200 Roger Staubach Hof Psa 8 Nm-mt Centered " High End "Vintage Washington Redskins Football Nodder With Kissing Majorette Bobble Head1984 Topps John Elway Rookie Rc Bgs 10 Pristine-absolutely Stunning! RareSigned Tom Brady New England Patriots Helmet Full Size With Coa1957 Topps Bart Starr #119 Rookie Green Bay Packers2012 National Treasures Andrew Luck Rc Quad Nfl Gear Prime + On-card Auto 3/52014 National Treasures Auto Tom Brady Notable Nicknames Autograph 03/251960 Topps #1 Johnny Unitas "centered" Psa 8 Nmmt 45420J.j. Watt 2013 National Treasures Nfl Logo Jumbo Nike Swoosh Tag Patch #2/2 Rare2015 Sammie Coates Topps Inception Rc Patch 1/1 Steelers Logo!! See Pic!!Dez Bryant 2014 National Treasures Cowboys Colossal Nike Logo Patch 1/2Marcus Mariota 2015 Topps Football Topps Auto AutographNotre Dame Vs. Texas Football 4 Consecutive Tickets Sept 5 Nd Stadium 20 Yd LineDallas Cowboys Riddell Nfl Full Size Authentic Football HelmetVintage Benirschke Game Issued Authentic San Diego Chargers Football Jersey 50Bart Starr Green Bay Packers 2001 Auto Jersey Card Piece Of History Autograph1981 Topps #216 Joe Montana 49ers Rc Rookie Hof Signed Auto Psa/dna Certified2003 Sp Authentic Tony Romo Rc Rookie Auto 970/1200 Dallas Cowboys2009 Sammy Morris #34 Team Issued Throwback Patriots Jersey 50th Patch1976 Topps Walter Payton Rc #148 Psa 9 Mint - One Of The Best Rb's Of All Time Tony Romo 1/1 2011 National Treasures 1/1 Autograph Reebok Logo #1/1 Cowboys 1/1Vintage 1960's Blue Base Hershey Bears Ahl Hockey Bobblehead Nodder MintDavante Adams 2014 Topps Chrome Mini Packers Rookie Gold Refractor Auto 1/102005 Topps Chrome Aaron Rodgers Rc Refractor Rookie Packers1971 Topps Terry Bradshaw Psa 7 Rc Rookie Nr-mt Hof Steelers Centered Re-sub Vintage Oakland Raiders Starter Satin Nfl Football Jacket – Medium 1985 Topps Walter Payton #33 / Psa 10 Gem Mint / Chicago Bears1965 Topps ~ Joe Namath #122 ~ Vg+/ex- ~ Rookie Card ~2014 Panini Playbook Peyton Manning Patch-auto Booklet, Denver Broncos, #2/32014-15 National Treasures Elfrid Payton Gold Rpa 4 Color Logo Patch Auto #23/25Jameis Winston 2015 Topps Football 1963 Mini Auto 10/25 Sp Rc Autograph1981 Topps Joe Montana Rc Graded Bgs 8.5 2008 Exquisite Collection Quad Patch Tom Brady Nfl Logo Bgs 8.5Lewis Hamilton 2014 Amg Mercedes Helmet 1:2 Jarryd Hayne Elite Aspirations Superfractor Rc 49ers Football Rc 1/1 One Of One2011 Playoff Contenders Jj Watt Autograph Rookie Card Rc Auto Houston TexansPsa 10 Gem Mint 2005 Topps Chrome Aaron Rodgers Rookie Card Rc Non Auto PackersNotre Dame Authentic Throwback Football Game Jersey Michigan Under The Lights 2014 Topps Platinum Brandin Cooks Superfractor 1/1 New Orleans Saints Mint Cond1959 Topps #1 Johnny Unitas "centered" Psa 8 Nmmt 457572006 Leaf Limited Team Threads 1/1 Walter Payton Sayers Red Grange Quad Patch 1957 Topps Football #138 John Johnny Unitas Hof Rc Rookie Baltimore Colts Peyton Manning 2014 National Treasures Black Sp Auto # 3/3 = 1/1 Broncos Mint 2015 Topps Football Rookie Jumbo Jersey Patch Auto Marcus Mariota 05/502007 Jabar Gaffney #10 Team Issued Silver Reebok New England Patriots JerseyTom Brady 2011 Topps Supreme 1/1 Quad Patch 1/1 San Francisco 49ers 2015 Limited Edition Faithful Flag With Wooden Box!John Elway Autographed Mini Helmet......certified..mounted Memories2014-15 National Treasures Rpa Elfrid Payton 5 Clr Patch Auto #61/99 NameplateTopps Supreme John Elway, Peyton Manning, Terrell Davis, Montee Ball 4/5 Auto1972 Topps #200 - Roger Staubach Rookie Card Bvg 8 Nm-mt Dallas Cowboy Qb Great

Recent News: Football Memorabilia

Source: Google News

1920s football comes to life at RI's Douglas Park
Quad-Cities Online, August 23rd

Moline Universal Tractor quarterback John Roche tries to evade a tackle during a "vintage" football game against the Rock Island Independents on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, at Douglas Park in Rock Island. Rock Island ended up on top 24-0. Buy this photo...Read more

Apollo Historical Society celebrates its own 45-year history
Tribune-Review, August 23rd

There also is a display for the defunct Apollo High School with class pictures, yearbooks, football memorabilia and other items. “(It's) for all the Apollo Tigers fans,” Ott says. “That seems to get a lot of interest. We sell Apollo Tigers license...Read more

Cambridge football fan launches new app featuring world's 'fastest game of ...
Cambridge News, August 21st

And if players do meet with success in their games, they could also be in with the chance of winning football memorabilia, such as old England shirts, which have been bought from eBay. "We think we have got the reasons to play the app anyway but adding...Read more

Q&A: Trinity's Antoine Smith
Fayetteville Observer, August 21st

Any football memorabilia? I used to collect footballs. I just love football. That's it. I love football. Do you have a favorite football movie? 'Gridiron Gang.' They give me motivation. People going through a lot, some of them didn't know how to play...Read more

Area Schools Raise Funds By Selling CityScope High School Football Collector's ...
The Chattanoogan, August 19th

For the fourth year in a row, the CityScope magazine will present its annual High School Football Collector's Edition, which will help raise money for schools while profiling 39 teams from nine different counties, along with this year's top college...Read more

Fernsler's family donates artifacts to Pottsville Area
Republican & Herald, August 17th

They included photographs of former school board members, copies of speeches made by Howard S. Fernsler, vintage football game programs and school district stationery. “Also, Dad's appointment books are there,” Howard Jr. said. Aside from vintage high ...Read more

County Football Insider: Ex-Vintage football assistant Sutter takes helm at ...
Napa Valley Register, April 2nd

Greg Sutter, the Vintage High football team's quarterbacks coach last season, will be facing the Crushers in the fall as the new head coach at Rodriguez. 2015-04-02T19:37:00Z 2015-04-03T23:45:06Z County Football Insider: Ex-Vintage football assistant ...Read more

Calling all vintage football gamers
Isthmus, March 5th

As co-founder of the Madison Tecmo Super Bowl, the largest and longest-running public tournament in the United States dedicated to an ancient videogame for the original Nintendo Entertainment System, Josh and his older brother, Chet, will welcome more ...Read more