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    

Ayrton Senna 1/1 Signed 1988 F1 Helmet Helm Casque - Global Authentics Coa2014 Topps Chrome #42 .. Peyton Manning Auto Autograph #4/10 .. Photo VariationCard Collection Lot Auto Jersey 1998 Manning 2000 Brady 2012 Luck 2003 LebronSix(6) Pittsburgh Steelers Championship Rings Set 2001 Tom Brady Rookie Rc Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket 99/100 AutoManchester United 1991 Match Issue Player Number 13 Adidas Football Shirt L/s2014-15 Panini Flawless Football Tom Brady Ssp Emerald 5/5 Dual Auto JerseyPanini World Cup Mexico 70 1970 Football Sticker AlbumRare 1930's Jay Berwanger J.c. Higgins "arrowhead" Style Leather Football Helmet2000 Donruss Elite Passing The Torch Ptt Jerry Rice Randy Moss Dual Auto 5/500Aaron Rodgers Packers 2010 Panini Classics Sunday's Best Auto & Patch 5/52000 Passing The Torch Ptt Brett Favre Bart Starr Dual Auto 4/5 Favre's Number!!Tom Brady 2000 Rookie Bowman Chrome Refractor #236Blake Bortles 2014 Topps Chrome Football Rookie Auto Autograph Sp2012 Topps Five Star Brett Favre And Aaron Rodgers Dual Auto 08/102013 Topps Five Star Packers Star Aaron Rodgers 2 Color Relic Auto #'d Sp 17/40!Dallas Cowboys Autographed Full Size Helmets Lot Of 4 1966 Green Bay Packers Championship Team Danbury Mint Diecast Figurine DisplayManchester United 12/13 Player Issue / Spec White Away Football Shirt S/s 2014 Topps Chrome Football Johnny Manziel Auto Signed Rc Rookie Browns 13/251965 Topps #122 Joe Namath Rookie Hof Jets Psa 4 *496541Seattle Seahawks Marshawn Lynch 2013 Game Worn Used Autographed Inscribed Helmet2014 Flawless Greats Platinum 1/1 Dan Marino Auto 4-color Dolphins Logo Patch2012 Panini National Treasures Nfl Gear Quad Signature Andrew Luck Rc Auto 1/15Tom Brady 2011 National Treasures Ring Of Honor Autograph Auto #d 3/4 Rare Pats2014 Panini Flawless Peyton Manning Emerald Parallel Auto Patch 2/5 Ssp Broncos2014 Topps Chrome Football Brandin Cooks # 5/5 Red Refractor Auto SaintsSigned Lewis Hamilton Helmet, Worn & Signed By The 2 Times World Champion2013 Topps Chrome Tom Brady Superfractor 1/1 Bgs 9.5 Gem Mint Graded Patriots Mohamed Sanu 2013 Game Used Worn Jersey Cincinnati Bengals Career Td #5 Nfl Coa2000 Donruss Elite Passing The Torch Joe Montana Steve Young Dual Auto 7/5002012 Topps Five Star Brett Favre Ssp Auto Jersey 03/10 3 Color Booklet2000 Passing The Torch Ptt Dan Marino Kurt Warner Dual Auto 44/5002014 Panini Flawless Ruby Tom Brady Patriots 4-color Patch Auto 6/15 1926 Notre Dame Knute Rockne First Ever Game Vs Usc - Important Football Program2014 Panini Flawless Troy Aikman Greats Auto Patch 1/1 Platinum Cowboys1998 Sp Authentic #14 Peyton Manning Rookie Card Rc #1375/2000, Colts, Broncos1966 Green Bay Packers Championship Team Danbury Mint Diecast Figurine Display 1976 Topps Walter Payton Rookie Chicago Bears #148 Football Card Psa 8Tom Brady Randy Moss Patriots Dual Signed Autographed Football Ga Gai Global Coa2000 Crown Royale Tom Brady Rookie Rc Autograph Auto Bgs 9.5 10 High SubsRare Origanal Wales Football Shirt M Mens Number 16 Adidas 1980-832014 Topps Chrome Football Factory Sealed Hobby 12 Box Case .2014 Panini Flawless Peyton Manning Auto 3 Color Jersey #d 25/25 Encased2011 Topps Supreme Dual Autograph Joe Montana Jerry Rice Auto 14/25 49ers BestTom Brady 2014 Panini Flawless Encased Auto Autograph 4 Color Patch 15/25Jerry Rice 2014 Panini Flawless Greats Emerald Dual Patch Auto # 2/5!!!Tom Brady 2000 Ud Graded Rookie Rc Sp 0984/1325 Bgs 9.5 Gem Mint~#104 ~rare ~ $1974 Topps Nfl Football Card Complete Set #1-528 Simpson Bradshaw Butkus Harris 2011 Playoff National Treasures Rookie Demarco Murray Rc Auto Patch /99 Cowboys 1984 Topps John Elway Rookie Bgs 9.5 Gem Mint W/ 2x 10 - 50/50 Razor Sharp Gem!!2000 Fleer Autographics Tom Brady Gold Sp Rc Auto Autograph Rookie #'d 1/50 1/12014 Panini Flawless...greats...dan Marino...17/25...amazing Patch!Ohio State Buckeyes Pro Combat Football HelmetSean Taylor Autographed Signed Miami Hurricanes Football Jersey 1976 Topps Walter Payton Rookie Card Rc #148 Psa 9 - Centered1985 Topps Football Unopened Wax Box Bbce Wrapped And Authenticated2000 Leaf Certified Tom Brady Rc "mirror Red" Rare-graded 9 Mint-awesome Card2010 Jostens Green Bay Packers Super Bowl Shareholder Ring In Box No ReserveTony Romo Signed Dallas Cowboys Fs Pro-line Helmet Gtsm Hologram

Recent News: Football Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Alfie Lund Fund attempts to create record breaking football memorabilia chain
Ormskirk & 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

More to Christmas Truce than football
Stratford Observer, November 25th

in 1999 almost as a private marker that a group known as the Khaki Chums had spent some time in a trench they had dug on one of the spots where the truce took place, is now always festooned with scarves, rosettes, shirts and other football memorabilia...Read more

Earl Thomas III takes care of his fans
TheRecordLive.com, November 25th

The walls were adorned with his various game jerseys and other football memorabilia. After the party we were driven back to the hotel by Earl's 6-5, 300-pound body guard who was behind the wheel of a new black Mercedes-Benz. We returned to Houston on ...Read more

David James auctions off football memorabilia after being declared bankrupt
The Sun (subscription), November 19th

James, 44, earned around £20million during a successful career with the likes of Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham, Manchester City and Portsmouth. To read the full story join Sun+ now and claim a FREE one-month trial ...Read more

David James' treasured football memorabilia collection fetches thousands at ...
Mirror.co.uk, November 19th

David James' treasured football memorabilia collection fetches thousands at auction after ex-England star went bankrupt. Nov 19, 2014 09:07; By Tom Pugh. An England shirt worn during the Three Lions win over Argentina in 2002 was sold for £672 while a ...Read more

Bankrupt goalkeeper David James auctions football memorabilia
BBC 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

Football memorabilia sale keeps Sheffield support centre on goal
The Star, November 3rd

Football memorabilia sale keeps Sheffield support centre on goal. Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock and Sheffield United legend Tony Currie supported centre manager Kevin Bradley in a shirt auction which raised ?2,500. Published on the 03 November...Read more

Vacaville at Vintage football preview
Napa Valley Register, October 29th

Last week: Vacaville lost at Napa, 26-14, ending a six-year, 28-game MEL win streak. Vintage defeated Armijo, 55-8, behind QB Jared Horn's 11 of 21 passing for season highs of 215 yards and three TDs. Last year: Vacaville failed to score on its first...Read more