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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Vintage Football Card Gallery
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Football Memorabilia
Source: Google News
Christmas gift guide: Steve Bruce toilet seat and other football presents to avoidInternational Business Times UK, December 20th
Return the favour with what is undisputedly the best piece of football memorabilia ever conceived by man. Sadly, only a few limited-edition toilet seats adorning Steve's mug were made available ahead of the club's FA Cup final with Arsenal last May...Read more
Med students host benefitHuntington Herald Dispatch, December 19th
Those with the most "MUSOM Money" left at the end of the night had a greater chance of winning a slew of football memorabilia including a football signed by Aaron Dobson, an autographed Rakeem Cato jersey, a football helmet signed by the entire ...Read more
Autographs giving way to technologyTribal Football, December 18th
The study discovered that fans are turning to social media to show off their football memorabilia via their mobile (76%), with one in five football fans turning to Twitter (20%) and 60% sharing their digital mementos on Facebook/ Instagram. Jim Boulton...Read more
Pic: Damn! Ben Brosnan has some amount of vintage football boots in his shedJOE, December 5th
Wexford ace Ben Brosnan has always had a bit of flashy streak to him, and that's not just in his peroxide hair, but on his feet as well. His customary bright boots went along well with his sunlight infused hair. Ben posted this photo on Instagram today...Read more
Alfie Lund Fund attempts to create record breaking football memorabilia chainOrmskirk & Skelmersdale Advertiser, November 27th
The Alfie Lund Fund have set themselves the challenge of creating the longest chain of football related items in the world during the 2014/15 football season and have been sent items from all over the world. Scarves, football shirts and flags old and...Read more
Bankrupt goalkeeper David James auctions football memorabiliaBBC News, November 4th
Former England goalkeeper David James is to auction hundreds of items of football memorabilia collected during his career. James, who played for Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham, Manchester City and Portsmouth, was declared bankrupt in May. Among the ...Read more
Subway's LSU Football Collector's Cup AvailableLSUSports.net, September 4th
BATON ROUGE – The 2014 LSU Football limited edition collector's cup is now available at Baton Rouge area Subway Restaurants. The cup features the three, iconic "L-S-U" flags that the cheerleaders carry across the endzone after an LSU touchdown...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