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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Vic Beasley looks to break mold of recent top-prospect pass rushersAnderson Independent Mail, July 28th
Atlanta Falcons' Justin Hardy, from left, Vic Beasley, Jr., Tevin Coleman and Jalen Collins wear vintage football helmets during a visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Canton, Ohio, as part of the NFL Rookies Symposium...Read more
Life-altering circumstances haven't changed former Irish coach Lou HoltzThe Elkhart Truth, July 27th
A half-century of football memorabilia gone. Personal items gone. “We didn't lose anything we were going to take to heaven anyway,” Holtz said. “The only thing you can take to heaven is your children. “All the things you lose… You go to brush your...Read more
Football! The Exhibition At The Reagan Presidential LibraryCBS Local, July 25th
Call me biased but I adore football memorabilia. I love seeing how the game, its equipment and players have changed throughout the years. Football! The Exhibition at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum can satisfy even the hungriest ...Read more
VHS enjoys benefits from seventh annual Wildcat Auction and ShootoutValdosta Daily Times, July 25th
Thursday's auction night featured both a silent and live auction with items for sale including: autographed professional and collegiate sports memorabilia, Valdosta Wildcats football memorabilia, gift certificates to the most popular restaurants and...Read more
Delray's best-kept secret: Carbon Athletic ClubDetroit Metro Times (blog), July 22nd
Scads of amateur football memorabilia from the 1930s and 1940s adorn the walls. A few men sit hunched over cards at a table talking — at least until a deafening blast from the horn of a passing freight train stops all conversation for 15 long seconds...Read more
Rare piece of football memorabilia stolen in Birkenhead burglaryLiverpool Echo, July 3rd
Merseyside Police is appealing for the public's help after a rare piece of football memorabilia was stolen from a house in Birkenhead. At around 5.10pm on Monday, June 29 a member of the public reported hearing a house alarm sounding and seeing four ...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 gamersIsthmus, 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