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 "2014-15 Flawless Grant Hill, Anfernee Hardaway, Gary Payton Usa Triple Auto 2/202000 Tom Brady Sp Authentic #118 Rc - Psa Mint 9 - Best Non-auto Rc!!14-15 Flawless Greats Gdm-gp Gary Payton Patch Autograph Auto Card Emerald 2/5Peyton Manning Auto Game Used Number Patch 3/10 Rare 2014 Immaculate / Boom!Walter Payton Signed Chicago Bears Jersey Auto + Inscriptions Psa/dna Loa HofTom Brady Signed / Autographed Patriots Nike On-field Throwback Jersey-tristar2014-15 Panini Flawless Black Elfrid Payton Rc Rookie 4-color Patch 1/1Peyton Manning Signed / Auto 2 Inscription Elite Orange Jersey Fanatics Le 181980s Riddell Anthony Munoz Game Used & Worn Football Helmet Cincinnati Bengals1965 Topps Complete Set 176/176 W/ Namath Otto Blanda Lamonica SchmidtVintage Liverpool Football Shirt 1985 Crown Paints Trikot Maglia Calcio Large1981 Topps # 216 Joe Montana Rookie Psa 92011 Panini National Treasure Peyton Manning Nfl Shield Patch Non Auto Card #1/11981 Topps Football #216 Joe Montana Rookie Rc Hof Psa/dna 10 Gem Mint Auto1987 Auburn Tigers Great Frank Thomas Rookie Rc Psa 10 Gem Mint (pwcc)Game Used 1969 Baltimore Colts Football Helmet Riddell Micro Fit Helmet Ha 911981 Topps Wax Box Bbce Wrapped / Psa 10 #216 Joe Montana Rc ?Green Bay Packers Nfl 1966 Football Team Danbury Mint Coach Lombardi Vince SuperDerek Carr 2014 National Treasures Auto Nfl Shield Rc 1/1 Oakland Raiders BoomJohn Elway Autographed Signed Multi Inscribed Nfl Football Steiner Coa & Holo1996 49ers Jerry Rice Pro Cut Jersey 46 Reebok Usa Pro Line Rare 50thClay Matthews Green Bay Packers Game Cut Home JerseyVintage West Germany Football Shirt 1990 Thomas Hassler Trikot Calcio Maglia LTom Brady 5/5 2014 Topps Supreme Auto1986 Topps Jerry Rice Rookie Psa 9 Mint! Centered!!2008 Exquisite Hornung/favre/kramer/hawk/aaron Rodgers/brohm 6 Auto Packers 3/61984 Topps #123 Dan Marino Rc Rookie Bgs 9.5 W/ 1023 Chelsea Fc Home Football Programmes Season 1954-1955 Title Winning Season 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Auto Rc Rookie Bgs 9 Mint Autograph2014-15 Flawless Elfrid Payton Rc On-card Auto Game-worn Patch 4/5 MagicBrett Favre Autographed Signed Packers Green Jersey 95, 96, 97 Mvp Farve HoloSigned Tom Brady & Bill Belichick New England Patriots Nfl Riddell Mini HelmetDan Marino 2015 Panini Certified Fotg Blue Jersey Patch Autograph Auto # 3/5 Huge Football Card Collection Lot $bv 2015 Rc Sp Auto Patch Jersey #'d Sick Rare2014 National Treasures Tom Brady Reebok Logo Patch "brand Logos" 2/22 1981 Topps Football Sealed Rack Packs W/6 Wax Packs Joe Montana Rookie CardClay Matthews Signed Auto 2015 Green Bay Packers Mini Helmet Inscription Coa Nfl1965 Topps Partial Set 47/176 W/ Namath Blanda Lamonica Gross2012 Certified Mirror Gold Sp Tom Brady Auto #d 3/25 Bgs Pristine 10! Miami Hurricanes Game Worn Eduardo Clements Ncaa Football Jersey-hurricanes CoaVintage Sunderland 1989 Away Football Shirt Trikot Maglia Rare Medium Calcio Top2002 Topps Ring Of Honor Auto Autograph Tom Brady Ssp Mvp?Tom Brady Signed Football "the Duke"Troy Polamalu Framed Autographed Steelers Jersey With Jsa CoaBell HelmetGreen Bay Packers Vs Chicago Bears 2011 Game Used Duke Football Aaron Rodgers1965 Topps Near Complete Set 136/176 W/ Lamonica Blanda Otto NamathJoe Montana & Emmitt Smith Dual Signed 16x20 Photo Auto Psa/dna Coa Hof2014 Panini Immaculate Peyton Manning Auto Autograph 11/13 Bgs 9 Auto 10 Peyton Manning Autographed Signed Broncos Revolution Proline Helmet Steiner Coa2015 Spectra Jerry Rice Illustrious Legends Ssp Auto 10/10 1/1 San Fran 49ersArsenal 2014/15,home,puma,medium Player Issue Version Football ...Lesean Mccoy 2012 Triple Threads Jersey Letter Patch Book # 2/3!!! EaglesGame Used Lot Auto Jersey Patch Logo 1/1 Autograph Jordan Ripken Marino Wiggins1998 Topps Autograph Rookie #a10 Peyton Manning Rc Bgs 9.5/10 Auto High Subs!!!1963 Topps Near Complete Set 168/170 W/ Psa Unitas Brown Little Ditka Nitschke2014-15 Flawless Elfrid Payton Rookie Rc Diamond Sp Uncirculated /20Brett Favre 2015 Spectra Ultra Ssp Super Bowl Xxxi On Card Ink Auto Amazing Card1999 Walter Payton Upper Deck Retro Inkredible On Card Autograph Coa!

Recent News: Football Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Auction date set for Crundwell assets, October 8th

The items come from its summer-long seizure of the former Dixon comptroller's remaining assets, including her Terry Bradshaw football memorabilia, a Childeric English saddle, Harley Davidson apparel, cowboy boots and hats, an ATV and mopeds. Officials ...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