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    

1998 Sp Authentic Peyton Manning Rc Rookie /2000 Upper Deck Ud Ssp Aaron Rodgers / Brett Favre Signed - Autographed Packers World Champs Jersey 1978 Topps Football Unopened Wax Box Bbce Wrapped And Authenticated2009 National Chicle Dual Auto Brett Favre Adrian Peterson Bgs 9.5 With 10 Auto2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Rc Auto Sp Rookie Autograph Ssp Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders #144 Rookie Ticket Rc Auto - Awesome Card2014 Spx Football Teddy Bridgewater Rookie Auto/patch Insert #841965 Topps # 122 Rookie Joe Namath Vg/ex Butterfly New York JetsPsa 8 Walter Sweetness Payton 1976 Topps Rookie #148 HofJoe Montana Autographed San Francisco 49ers Framed Jersey, Psa/dna2007 National Treasures Signature Trios Archie Eli And Peyton Manning Auto /152007 Topps Co-signers Auto /20 Brett Favre Bart Starr Csa-fs Packers AutographsVintage Dallas Cowboys Special Limited Edition Riddell Mini Helmet Chrome 20001984 Topps Football Unopened Wax Box Bbce Wrapped And Authenticated1985 Topps Football Unopened Wax Box 36 Pack Mint Shape Mitchell And Ness Steve Largent Seattle Seahawks Jersey (44/large)1965 Topps Joe Namath New York Jets #122 Football Card Psa 56 Auto Jersey Patch 27 Joe Montana Dan Marino Brett Favre John Elway Steve YoungMartellus Bennett Game Worn Used Chicago Bears Throwback Jersey 11/17/13 RavensPeyton Manning 2013 National Treasures True 1/1 Jersey Auto Holy Grail !!Tom Brady /12 $1500+ Patriots Gold Proof Auto Sp 2004 Prime Signatures AutographJohnny Unitas Peyton Manning 1999 Elite Passing The Torch Dual Auto 96/100 Bgs 8Walter Payton Signed & Framed Vintage Chicago Bears Nfl Jersey Joe Montana Autographed San Francisco 49ers Framed Jersey, Psa/dna1986 Topps Football Unopened Wax Box Bbce Wrapped And AuthenticatedTom Brady Signed /autographed Full Size Proline Helmet Mounted Memories Coa AutoWalter Payton Signed Chicago Bears Jersey Auto + Inscriptions Psa/dna Loa HofPeyton Manning Signed /autograph Colts Proline Helmet Le 18 Victory Collectibles2007 07 Topps Triple Threads Tom Brady Mvp Super Patch Logo Auth Auto 2/18 2010 Panini Classics Sunday's Best Tom Brady Auth Auto 4/5 W/ Game Jersey Piece Cal Ripken Jr & Chris Davis Signed / Autographed Batting Helmet Lot Auto Jsa SbJ.j. Jj Watt /99 $800+ Bgs 9.5 10 Texans Rookie Auto Rc 2011 National Treasures1939 Monk Edwards Baylor Bears College Football Game Worn Durene Football Jersey2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Auto Rookie Ticket Football Card Mint #1441985 Topps Football Unopened Wax Box Bbce Wrapped And Authenticated2013 Spectra Blue 3 Color Patch Auto Of Peyton Manning, #4/15!!!!!Pop 1 Psa 10 Tom Brady 2004 Topps Super Tix Auto Autograph Suberbowl Xxxviii1981 Topps Joe Montana Rookie San Francisco 49ers #216 Football CardProline Autographed Barry Sanders Full Size Helmet RadtkeJoe Montana & Jerry Rice Dual Signed Proline Riddell Helmet W/ Hof Insc-holo/coaEddie Lacy Auto, Rc, Dual Relic #18/25!! 2013 Topps Museum Collection (packers)Aaron Rodgers 2013 Topps Five Star On Card Auto Patch Gold!!!! **10/40** PackersPanini Sticker Euro Football 79 Album Complete Very Good1976 Topps Football #148 Walter Payton Rc Rookie Hof BearsJoe Montana / Jerry Rice / Steve Young Signed 49ers Proline Helmet Sb Insc Jsa 2012 Panini Contenders Russell Wilson Rc Auto Bgs 9.5 10 Seattle SeahawksNick Foles/eagles 2012 Upper Deck Exquisite Rc Rookie Auto Patch Card #84/1501976 Topps #148 Walter Payton Bears Nfl Football Rookie Card Graded Psa 8 Nm-mtJoe Montana Signed / Autographed Wilson Red 49ers Game Jersey Auto Psa/dnaHuge Lot Of 77 Auto Relic Football Cards! Rookies Stars Sp Ssp! Look!2009 Laurence Maroney Game Worn #39 White/away Rbk Patriots Jersey W/ 50th Patch1986 Topps Jerry Rice #161 Psa Mint 9 Very Sharp Card Flawless Looks Gem2014 Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings Mcfarlane Nfl 34 Variant FigureBrandin Cooks 2014 Bowman Chrome Red Refractor Auto Rc Ssp 9/25! Saints Wow!Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson 2014 Pro Bowl Team Rice Authentic JerseyTom Brady 2000 Fleer Autographics Silver Parallel Edition Auto Autograph Rc /2501982 Topps Football Unopened Wax Box Bbce Wrapped And Authenticated1983 Topps Football Unopened Wax Box Bbce Wrapped And AuthenticatedPanini World Cup Mexico86 Empty Football Sticker Album120 Autographed Football Rookie Cards Andrew Luck & Russell Wilson & Griffin

Recent News: Football Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Property Trax: Wall Street Journal profiles UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez ...
Wisconsin State Journal, 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 uniforms
Marietta 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 cocktail
BBC 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

Football fans across Britain help 10-year-old Crawley boy complete Panini ...
Crawley News, August 28th

A FOOTBALL fanatic who is filling his home with hundreds and hundreds of stickers has won the backing of Manchester United, Arsenal and Crawley Town as he undertakes an ingenious charity challenge. Ben McWilliam is organising an auction inspired by ...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