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    

1981 Topps #216 Joe Montana Rc Rookie Hof Psa 10 Gem Mint Centered " Pristine "1976 Topps Walter Payton Rookie #148 Psa 92000 Donruss Elite Jerry Rice Randy Moss Auto Torch /50 Bgs 9.5 10 1/1 Pop 1Brett Favre /10 Packers Auto Dual Logo Patch Gold Greats Sp 2014 Panini FlawlessFernando Alonso Ferrari Signed 1/2 Scale Helmet With Proof Sebastion Vettel Signed 1/2 Scale Helmet With Proof Ring Pull V Rare Ltd EditionLewis Hamilton 2008 Wc Signed 1/2 Scale Helmet With Proof Mclaren Ltd Edition1984 Topps #123 Dan Marino Rc Rookie Hof Centered Psa 10 Gem Mint " Pristine "1976 Topps Football #148 Walter Payton Rc Rookie Hof Psa 9 Mint " Pack Fresh "Lewis Hamilton 2011 Signed 1/2 Scale Helmet With Proof Bob Marley Ltd Edition1986 Topps Football Unopened Wax Box Bbce Wrapped And AuthenticatedMichael Schumacher Signed 20 Year Gold Spa F1 Helmet 1/1 Helm Casque - Ga Coa1972 Topps #200 Roger Staubach Rc Cowboys Graded Psa 7 Nm Set BreakGary Payton Celtics Authentic Jersey 40 - Vintage Nike - Nice ShapeTom Brady Peyton Manning 1/5 Auto Mvp Jersey Logo Patch Triple Threads TomlinsonMichael Schumacher Signed F1 Gloves - Helmet - Helm - Casque Photo Proof + Coa1986 Topps Football Unopened Wax Pack Box W/ 36 Packs Bbce Sealed Jerry Rice Rc2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Auto Rookie Rc #144La Galaxy 2015 Mls Football Shirt .bnwt. Large. 8 Gerrard.1981 Topps Joe Montana Rc Rookie Psa 9 - Looks Like A Psa 101982 Topps #486 Ronnie Lott 49ers Rc Rookie Hof Bgs 10 Pristine " Flawless "1981 Topps Football #216 Joe Montana Rc Rookie Hof Psa 9 Mint " Looks Gem "1972 Topps #200 Roger Staubach Rc Rookie Hof Centered Psa 8.5 " Looks Nicer "1971 Topps #156 Terry Bradshaw Rc Rookie Hof Psa 8 Nm-mt " Well Centered "1986 Topps Jerry Rice Rookie Football Card Graded Beckett Bgs 9 "mint Solid 1986 Topps Jerry Rice Rc Bgs 8.5 (x3) Plus Elway Montana Andre Reed .5 From MintPanini Munich 1974 World Cup Football Sticker Album 100% Complete2012 Crown Royale Emmitt Smith Legendary Silhouettes Auto Jersey 5/10 Cowboys1981 Topps Football Unopened Wax Pack Box W/ 36 Packs Bbce Sealed Joe Montana Rc1976 Topps #148 Walter Payton Rookie Psa 9 Mint Chicago Bears2014 Panini Immaculate Patches Tom Brady 1/1 Nike Patch New England Patriots2014 Topps Museum Andrew Luck Nfl Shield Prime Patch Ssp True 1 Of 1 Colts 1/1!Amari Cooper Rookie Prizm Auto 7/23 2015 Panini Contenders Football Elfrid Payton 4/5 Letter Patch On Card Auto Rc Spectacular Green Prizm Spectra2000 Tom Brady Bowman Chrome Rookie Card Rc Psa 10 Gem Mint 24046109Nico Rosberg Full Signature Signed 1/2 Scale Helmet WilliamsSouthampton Fc Signed 2014/15 Football Shirt X 26 Inc Koeman + Pelle.1999 Johnny Unitas Donruss Elite Passing The Torch Auto 41/1500 Super Rare Sp 2007 Upper Deck Trilogy Crystal Clear Montana Marino Namath Auto 3/9 Bgs 9.51989 Score Football Unopened Box Fresh From Sealed Case Sanders Aikman Psa 10?2011 Five Star Joe Montana Dan Marino Dual On Card Auto /10 Bgs 9/10 Hof1981 Topps #216 Joe Montana San Francisco 49ers - Perfect Rookie Card Psa 9 MintSpectacular Late 1970s Greg Landry Baltimore Colts Nfl Football Game Worn Jersey1972 Topps Football Set Lot (775) Staubach Rc Ia Manning Rc Plunkett Rc BlandaChampion Seattle Supersonics #20 Gary Payton Authentic Nba Jersey Nwt 44 Large1957 Topps Football #94 Raymond Berry Colts Rc Rookie Hof Psa 9 Mint Pop 2 OnlyTom Brady Signed / Inscribed 3x Sb Mvp White Patriots Jersey Tristar Le 492007 Triple Threads Tom Brady Peyton Manning John Elway Auto Jersey Mvp 17/36 SpTony Romo 2003 Sp Authentic Rookie On Card Autograph Cowboys Auto Rc /1200 $350+2014 National Treasures Brett Favre Auto 1/3 Green Bay PackersBart Starr Green Bay Packers Qb Signed Ridell Mini Helmet - Mounted Memories Coa2011 Topps Chrome Refractor Cam Newton Rc Auto 46/99 Auburn Carolina Panthers1986 Topps # 161 Jerry Rice Rookie Card - Graded Psa 10 Gem Mint - Nice Card1985 Topps All Pro #24 Richard Dent Chicago Bears Hof Psa 10 Gem Mint1958 Topps Jim Brown Cleveland Browns #62 Football - Bvg 7.5 - Hof Rb Auction2007 U.d. Sp Chirography Triple Auto Peyton Marino Namath Sp 1/1 Bgs 9.5 10 Auto2014 Panini Immaculate Antonio Brown Logo Patch 1/1 Steelers Dirty2014 Panini Flawless Rookie Gold Auto Rc Jimmy Garoppolo 1/10 PatriotsWalter Payton Framed Autographed Bears Jersey With 5 Inscriptions And Psa Loa Tom Brady 2000 Pacific Autograph Rookie Rc /200 Bgs 9.5 W/10 Auto

Recent News: Football Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Charity match at Roots Hall raises hospice cash
Echo, May 30th

Visitors also had the chance to have their picture taken with the Barclays Premier League trophy and take part in a charity auction full of football memorabilia. Jamie Nice, director at Rickard Keen, said: “Overall the evening was a great success...Read more

Preston teen off to USA in bid to be England's first Asian goalie
Lancashire Evening Post, May 29th

And now as he hopes to take his career to the next level he is being forced to part with a treasure trove of football memorabilia. The youngster is selling a signed Wayne Rooney shirt, a signed Manchester United shirt and a football from the 2006 World...Read more

Collingwood's new $1.5 million memorabilia collection will boost Magpie Nest
Herald Sun, May 29th

A year on, what started as a potential wild goose chase has resulted in the Pies being handed the finest private football memorabilia collection ever seen. In all, the 3000-odd pieces have been valued by Melbourne memorabilia expert Rick Milne at $1...Read more

Islander Football Hall of Fame names 1st class
Grand Island Independent, May 28th

11. There will be honored at a formal induction banquet. Their images, along with other Islander football memorabilia and future honorees, will be displayed in a new Hall of Fame being developed adjacent to the East Gym at Grand Island Senior High...Read more World's Largest Dealer of Football Memorabilia ...
MarketWatch, May 28th

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, May 28, 2015 (Marketwired via COMTEX) -- Editor's Note: There are four photos associated with this press release. - The world's largest dealer of football programmes and memorabilia launches a new ...Read more

Exploring the Disappearance of the World-Class All-Rounder in Test Cricket
Bleacher Report, May 27th

About cricket—something that just doesn't happen in this watering hole dripping with football memorabilia. Of the two, one had clearly been at the ground; the other had watched on television. The guy who'd been at Lord's couldn't get his words out...Read more

2015 NHL Playoffs: League Needs Consistent Rule Enforcement
Defending Big D, May 27th

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic famously found that the old vintage football leatherhead helmets are actually just as safe at protecting the head as anything modern technology has been able to produce since Superman was fighting fifth dimensional ...Read more

Abdallah Chaaban hopes to showcase football memorabilia
Yahoo! Maktoob News, May 9th

“It's simple. You only live once, so live your passion,” reasons Abdallah Chaaban about a football memorabilia collection he has painstakingly built up over the past decade and a half. The Lebanese sales and marketing director, 46, has an extensive...Read more