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    

1984 Topps #63 John Elway Rc Rookie Hof Psa 10 Pristine " Super Hot Card "2000 Tom Brady Sp Authentic #118 Rc - Psa Mint 9 - Best Non-auto Rc!!2014-15 Flawless Grant Hill, Anfernee Hardaway, Gary Payton Usa Triple Auto 2/20Peyton Manning Auto Game Used Number Patch 3/10 Rare 2014 Immaculate / Boom!1980s Riddell Anthony Munoz Game Used & Worn Football Helmet Cincinnati BengalsTom Brady Signed / Autographed Patriots Nike On-field Throwback Jersey-tristarPeyton Manning Signed / Auto 2 Inscription Elite Orange Jersey Fanatics Le 182011 Panini National Treasure Peyton Manning Nfl Shield Patch Non Auto Card #1/1Manchester United Player Issue Adizero Home Football Shirt Size Xl ( L )1987 Auburn Tigers Great Frank Thomas Rookie Rc Psa 10 Gem Mint (pwcc)1965 Topps Complete Set 176/176 W/ Namath Otto Blanda Lamonica SchmidtClay Matthews Green Bay Packers Game Cut Home JerseyVintage Liverpool Football Shirt 1985 Crown Paints Trikot Maglia Calcio LargeGame Used 1969 Baltimore Colts Football Helmet Riddell Micro Fit Helmet Ha 912008 Exquisite Hornung/favre/kramer/hawk/aaron Rodgers/brohm 6 Auto Packers 3/61981 Topps # 216 Joe Montana Rookie Psa 9Derek Carr 2014 National Treasures Auto Nfl Shield Rc 1/1 Oakland Raiders BoomVintage West Germany Football Shirt 1990 Thomas Hassler Trikot Calcio Maglia L2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Auto Rc Rookie Bgs 9 Mint AutographTom Brady 5/5 2014 Topps Supreme Auto2012 Topps Supreme Brett Favre Aaron Rodgers Dual Auto 04/25 Farve Jsy# Packers1986 Topps Jerry Rice Rookie Psa 9 Mint! Centered!!2012 Certified Mirror Gold Sp Tom Brady Auto #d 3/25 Bgs Pristine 10! 2014 National Treasures Tom Brady Reebok Logo Patch "brand Logos" 2/2Signed Tom Brady & Bill Belichick New England Patriots Nfl Riddell Mini Helmet2002 Topps Ring Of Honor Auto Autograph Tom Brady Ssp Mvp?Dan Marino 2015 Panini Certified Fotg Blue Jersey Patch Autograph Auto # 3/5 Green Bay Packers Vs Chicago Bears 2011 Game Used Duke Football Aaron Rodgers1970 Ted Provost Minnesota Vikings Nfl Football Game Worn Football Jersey1976 Topps Football Walter Payton Rookie Rc #148 Psa 10 Gem Mint (pwcc)1958 Topps Football Jim Brown Rookie Rc #62 Psa 6 Exmt (pwcc)Vintage Sunderland 1989 Away Football Shirt Trikot Maglia Rare Medium Calcio TopGame Used Lot Auto Jersey Patch Logo 1/1 Autograph Jordan Ripken Marino WigginsAngel Di Maria Signed Manchester United Football Shirt 2015*full Signature*122 Huge Jersey Patch Auto Gu Lot Barry Bonds Drew Brees Peyton Manning Sosa2000 Sp Authentic Tom Brady Rookie Rc /1250 #118 Psa 10 Gem Mint (pwcc)1965 Topps Partial Set 47/176 W/ Namath Blanda Lamonica GrossTom Brady Signed Football "the Duke"Bell HelmetBrett Favre 2015 Spectra Ultra Ssp Super Bowl Xxxi On Card Ink Auto Amazing Card2014 Panini Immaculate Peyton Manning Auto Autograph 11/13 Bgs 9 Auto 10 Peyton Manning Eli Manning Super Bowl Dual Autographed 16x20 Photo Steiner CoaAaron Rodgers Signed Super Bowl Xlv Autographed Mini Helmet W/coa ! Mvp Xlv !1998 Topps Autograph Rookie #a10 Peyton Manning Rc Bgs 9.5/10 Auto High Subs!!!Hershey Bears Game Worn Used Jersey - Hershey Arena Patch - Enforcer1963 Topps Near Complete Set 168/170 W/ Psa Unitas Brown Little Ditka NitschkePackers Brett Favre Signed Jersey W/ Sb Xxxi Champs! Coa Holo Auto Autographed2014-15 Flawless Elfrid Payton Rpa Rookie Rc Auto Jersey Patch Sp /9914-15 Flawless Gems #190 Elfrid Payton Rookie Diamond Base Card 16/202014 National Treasures Peyton Manning "colossal" Jsy Auto 2/25 Bgs 9.5 10 Auto1981 Topps 216 Joe Montana Bgs 8.5 Rc Old LabelSidney Rice Game Used Vikings Jersey2001 2003 2004 2014 New England Patriots Super Bowl Champions 14" Banner SetBrett Favre Green Bay Packers Signed Super Bowl Xxxi Mini Helmet W/ Jsa Coa1965 Topps Football #122 Joe Namath Rc Rookie Hof Sp Bvg 7 Nm " Pack Fresh "3 X Upper Sideline Buffalo Bills Vs Jacksonville Jaguars Nfl Wembley Tickets1965 Topps Near Complete Set 136/176 W/ Lamonica Blanda Otto Namath2014-15 Flawless Elfrid Payton Rookie Rc Diamond Sp Uncirculated /201999 Walter Payton Upper Deck Retro Inkredible On Card Autograph Coa! 1966 Philadelphia Near Complete Set 194/197 W/ Unitas Ditka Sayers Butkus

Recent News: Football Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Nearing the finish line on sale of Crundwell assets, October 8th

Up for auction are her Terry Bradshaw football memorabilia, a Childeric English saddle, Harley Davidson apparel, cowboy boots and hats, an ATV and mopeds. Items for sale will be viewable early next on This will be the first of two...Read more

Gamasutra, October 8th

There will be drop-in tournaments throughout both days of the event, leading to Grand Final on each day with copies of PES 2016, PES goodies, signed football memorabilia and £100 GAME vouchers all up for grabs. Gaming fans at the event will also want...Read more

Tom Cleverley threatened by armed robbers in Manchester home raid
Daily Mail, October 6th

Thieves trashed his house stealing football memorabilia, champagne and jewellery and his exclusive Aston Martin car worth a total of £200,000. He was just one victim of a gang that repeatedly targeted the homes of Premiership footballers, including...Read more

Games Room of the Year 2015, in pictures, October 6th

Fifteen finalists who have splashed out thousands of pounds on building innovative games rooms in their homes are competing for the crown of 'Games Room of the Year 2015'. The entries include an attic which have been transformed into an American-style ...Read more

Win two hospitality tickets for next season's Community Shield and £350 of ...
Daily Mail, October 2nd

With hospitality tickets for next season's Community Shield and £350 of football memorabilia on offer to the No 1 manager, there's all the more incentive to whip your team into shape whether you're in the top half of the table or enduring a Chelsea...Read more

Vintage football photos, Penn State vs. Army in 1973, September 30th

This gallery is the next in a series that PennLive will publish during the course of Penn State's 2015 football season that features the Nittany Lions playing in the 1970s, '80s and '90s. Penn State will play Army at noon Oct. 3 at Beaver Stadium. This...Read more

Football memorabilia on display at Lagoona
Gulf Times, September 16th

Lagoona Mall will host a football memorabilia exhibition, featuring “rare and exclusive” collections, from today. Themed “Football Legends”, the event will run until October 3 and include items that represent the legends along with iconic moments in...Read more

Highest-Priced Football Memorabilia
Huffington Post, September 9th

Do you enjoy collecting football memorabilia? It does not carry quite as high a price tag as baseball memorabilia, but it is still easy to empty the bank account if you are a collector. Football cards have sold at auction for as high as $240,000 for a...Read more