Monday 30 October 2023

Needuum is Live

After many years of effort I am happy to announce that the digital catalogue application Needuum is finally available for use on your iPhone, Android device and on the web, today October 30th 2023.

What is Needuum:

Needuum is a digital catalogue that provides the most comprehensive, accurate, detailed and informative repository of Sports Memorabilia knowledge in existence for the Sports that the platform supports. Needuum also contains industry expert derived pricing, often for multiple condition grades, for thousands of sets and tens of thousands of individual items.

Needuum has consolidated the information originally presented in the "Vintage Hockey Collector" printed guides as well as the "Collecting Canadian Football" printed guides to specialize in memorabilia relating to Vintage Hockey (from origin to 1989-90) and Canadian Football (from origin to present). All updated and newly uncovered information on sets and items that has been accumulated since these paper guides were published has been incorporated into the platform. Pricing has also been updated where deemed necessary by changing market conditions. In addition large sections of never before catalogued types of memorabilia have been added as well.

What's New:

For Canadian Football there is a ton of previously never before catalogued material including Coins, Games, Pennants and Stickers and of course the standard sports card issues right up to the current 2023 releases. Select sets have had pricing revision where warranted.

For Hockey there are thousands of never before catalogued vintage items as well as updates to the existing classic sets where ongoing research has provided new information. All classic Hockey sets from every decade have had thorough pricing updates.   

What's Missing:

I would like to be able to say that the Catalogue is fully loaded with individual images for every item, however this is not the case and the addition of images is a work in progress. What has been fully loaded is most of the classic Topps/OPC sets for Canadian Football (with some notable exceptions like the Nalley's coins, the Coke caps and the last few OPC seventies sets) as well as almost all of the Pre-War Hockey sets (again a with few notable exceptions such as Type I Bee-Hives). A decision was made to not postpone the release of the Catalogue another 6 months to load more pictures, as there will always be more items to list and more images to add, and we will do our best to try and get caught up.  

How to get Needuum:

Just a Heads-Up that if you downloaded the iPhone APP and are seeing black screens and missing text all over the place, change the Settings > Display & Brightness > Light Mode. A future release will address this problem to display properly in Dark Mode. The joys of keeping up with all of the new Apple features and settings.

There was an issue with Samsung Android devices (and perhaps a few others) preventing successful User Registration. A new release has been put on the Google Play Store and if you were having issues with registering (Error back in the App or "not found" in an empty browser window) then please download the new version which should allow you to register successfully. If you got Registered on your existing Android device you can leave it as is.  

Also if using Facebook you MUST allow for your email to be sent as part of the login, it will fail without it.

    iPhone                Link to Apple App Store

        OR Scan the QR Code                                                                      


    Android                Link to Google Play Store

        OR Scan the QR Code                                                                      

    Web                    Link to the Web Version

Note that you can, of course run the web version on your mobile browser, but the formatting is a little wonky and the dedicated phone apps provide a much better user experience. These mobile browser formatting issues will be resolved in the near future.


Needuum contains a lot of information (over 100,000 items at initial launch) and navigating the structure of this amount of data to seamlessly render results on your 3” x 6” phone screen is a complex task. Extensive information on how Needuum works and how to best make sense of what you are seeing on the screen, is available in the Info / FAQ and Help / Support menu option sections on each platform.

A Youtube channel has been set up to walk you through some of the searching and subscribing operations on the various client devices here:

    YouTube                Link to the YouTube Channel 

If you encounter issues there is a support email specified on each client as well.

What does Needuum Cost:

Needuum is free to use for the basic browsing, searching and listing functionalities, and users can register (using Social Media if preferred) and then purchase subscriptions to gain access to advanced features. These include the pricing, informative background write-ups with extensive set details, and advanced searching capabilities that can drastically ease the process for determining which team, position, player or rookie items exist for collectors who focus on acquiring these specializations.

Needuum is 100% Ad free and we would like to keep it that way. We don't collect, store or sell your information to any third parties. It is our belief that the Subscription model is the best way to provide this information to collectors who find value in it.
Needuum is continually growing, we will be adding previously uncatalogued vintage listings regularly as well as new issues upon release (where applicable) periodically. This regular fresh influx of data and images will ensure that Needuum remains the preeminent source of hobby information for collectors available anywhere.

End of this Blog:

As Needuum contains the ability to present hobby and collectible stories in a very similar fashion to this blog, over the next few months I will be transitioning most of these posts into the App where they will continue to be available to all users, subscribed, registered or not. Any future blog posts will then appear in Needuum. 

Toronto Sports Expo:

Bobby Burrell and I will be set up at the Sports Expo in Toronto November 9-12 to promote Needuum to collectors. We will be at booth 1408 near the food fair so if you are at the show stop by if you wish. We also expect to be at the Spring 2024 Expo in Edmonton.  

Wednesday 27 September 2023

"New" Collectibles From The Classic CFL Sets Era

As most veteran CFL collectors are aware, there are always "new" (as in newly rediscovered) vintage collectibles turning up on a regular basis. But you might be surprised to know that even the most basic of the classic CFL card sets of the 50's and 60's Topps and Parkhurst era, have had some unusual gems unearthed. In most cases these items will easily be the hardest ones to add to your sets if you really want to consider them "complete".

In 1958 Topps issued the American version of this card (with a Brooklyn redemption address) with their football cards, and as it turns out there was a Canadian version too with the London, Ontario O-Pee-Chee redemption address. It is believed that this card may have only been available in cello packs accounting for its rarity. 

In 1960 the Topps generic card album was advertised on the backs of some of the wax packs for CFL football but there was also a thin stock slightly smaller than a regular card insert promoting the availability of the album as well. Again with O-Pee-Chee's London address and a clear instruction not to send football wrappers this item would logically have been inserted into some CFL football packs (and Hockey). Perhaps used only for packs that had the gold plated ring offer, otherwise it would have been unnecessary. 

In 1963 CFL card backs had a mystery quiz printed in such a way that you could place a piece of red paper over the back to reveal the answer. These red pieces were called paper on both the card backs and the wax pack wrapper although they appear to have actually have been fairly thick red cellophane. these are fairly rare and if they were in every pack one would think they would be more common today. perhaps when somebody opens some vintage 1963 packs the answer will be confirmed.    

In 1964 CFL card backs had a puzzle back that required a secret decoder piece to reveal the answer (which was static in that the proper letters were always in the same positions. Once again these are pretty rare considering they were inserted into every pack.  

So that means 1958, 1960, 1963 and 1964 each have an associated card or item that is orders of magnitude harder to get than the regular cards. 1961 of course has the well known transfer inserts, 15 players and 9 team logos. While all of these are hard to get some are scarcer than others.

1965 also had very hard to acquire transfers of 9 team logos, 9 team pennants and 9 provincial plus Canada flag crests. There are probably very few collectors who have successfully managed to acquire all 51 of these transfers, many of which sell for over $100 each if in good condition.

1962 of course immediately presented the collector the choice of focusing on the separated single cards or on the unseparated panels which is a pretty difficult task to complete as many of the panels have short printed cards on them. If you wanted to be really obsessive compulsive you could collect all of the singles with perforations on the left or perforations on the right. 

Don't forget the five different Mack Burton cards without the spot or with the spot in 4 different locations, and of course these variations extend to the panels that the cards came on as well. 

With all of the above information that leaves only 1959 as a Topps CFL issue that has no special items besides the base cards to go after. Of course each year also has the wax pack wrapper and the display boxes for a really herculean (and $$$) collecting goal.

Finally we have two (there could still be more) newly discovered 1956 Parkhurst football cards from the very rare 1956 Photo Magic general issue (Not the well known CFL issue) that by all appearances are CFL related. 

Examination of the uniforms of the players on these two cards seems to conform with what the Argos and Riders (#23) and the Ti-Cats and Als (#47) were wearing around 1955 and 1956 and there would be little reason for Parkhurst to not use CFL action scenes for these cards. I am not familiar enough with Varsity Stadium to know if #23 was taken there, but there appears to be a sloped roof in the background which might have been consistent with the time period.

So there you have it, even the most well traveled routes of CFL collectibles throws up a few new roadside attractions from time to time. Thanks to Bobby Burrell for the 1960 insert and the 1956 Parkhurst images and information.  

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Bucking the Trend - Team Issues in 2023

In this digital centric world the number of physical ephemera collectibles that were historically produced by each franchise every season is drastically on the decline. Many teams have stopped printing programs or lineup sheets of any type and others have done away with hard copy game tickets transitioning to just mobile phone versions. Even printed schedules are becoming somewhat scarce nowadays. In light of this it is refreshing to find out that some teams are still making an effort in different ways to get some tangible player themed collectibles into the hands of their fans.


The Elks continue a recent practice of featuring some of their players on trading cards that apparently are available to those attending fan appreciation day and perhaps certain games. This is the only one that I have a confirmed image of but apparently other players may also have been produced, including Manny Arceneaux and Tre Ford.  


The Stampeders are issuing a series of 16" X 20" posters that focus on all of the players at a given position. You have to show up early to get these from each home game starting with the June 24th contest and there should be eight in total. The great thing about these is every player, star or backup, is included.


The Tiger-Cats are also handing out specially made cards at games and some other sporting events in town with the players sometimes on hand to provide autographs. These feature current players and alumnus of distinction athletes who are celebrated at particular games. Thanks to Dave Howitt for providing me with the information and the images to properly catalogue this set.


The Alouettes (who are without a doubt the busiest issuers of team specific player card sets) are at it again this year with their Mini Als club kit that includes at least 3 specialty cards. I don't have very good images of this set, which looks to be in French only and there may certainly be more players as well.

Well I'm afraid that's it for this season so far, 4 teams out of 9 that went above and beyond the bare minimum for their collector fanbases. Undoubtedly some of the other 5 teams have produced something similar this season but these things are really hard to find out about unless you live in those cities and attend all the games/events. B.C. and Toronto are very consistent with in stadium game day giveaways but they don't necessarily advertise images of the items ahead of time. If they don't get posted on ebay or on the facebook groups it can be years before they are identified.

There are some player themed magnet schedules available this year that feature specific players for some of these teams. That is assuming these from ebay are real official issues, it can be hard to tell these days.

If anybody reading this is in B.C., Toronto, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg or Ottawa and you are aware of  anything issued for any player by those teams this year. Please let me know and send pictures!

Sunday 30 July 2023

Mysteries of the Missing Memorabilia - West

One strange aspect of collecting CFL memorabilia is the existence of numerous issues that are known (via various methods) to have been produced but no actual examples of the items themselves have yet surfaced. Why that is, is probably different in each instance and so by publicizing some of these mysteries I am hoping that perhaps some reader will say, hey I've come across one of these elusive items and help solve at least one of the cases.

Most of these issues are already catalogued, but not every collector is familiar with the catalogues and so the chance that they own one of the items without being aware that the information is missing is definitely possible. This post will feature items specific to the western CFL teams with the east to follow sometime in the future.


Stapled into some (but oddly not all, unless they were removed to be used) 1973 Stampeder home programs (just outside the city specific inserted pages) was the above order form from a local photography and graphics arts studio advertising incredible (for 1973) full colour player photos in two sizes! How is it possible that not one of these beauties has survived to the present day?

I think I vaguely remember seeing what might have been one of these tacked up in a local business (Bud's Office Supply in Bridgeland) one day long before I started cataloging such things (it was Linterman). I have a theory that these photos looked like the John Helton image below left which dates to no later than 1972 as it (or rather an image from the same photoshoot) was used for the 1972 OPC triple sticker issue. But in the case of a player like Dick Wesolowski who did not join the Stampeders until 1973 that wouldn't fit. Perhaps existing photos were used where possible and new ones were taken where needed. 



These 1966 Philishave B.C. Lions colour photos from game programs in 1966 are pretty well known. They are often encountered clipped out of the program as single sheets but then the accompanying player photo album write-up is gone. These stories appeared on separate pages and not on the other half of the special paper that the colour photo was on (those halves had Philishave and other advertisements on them). 

However the program also instructed fans to send away for any of the photos they had missed. It is not known if these specially ordered photos were in the exact same format as those inserted into the magazine, were a single sheet, had the same advertisements on the back, or had the player story on the back or were blank backed? Somebody must have one, but if they turn out to be identical then there is no missing set.

To demonstrate that these sorts of missing items do sometimes turn up, below is the wall chart from the B.C. Lions 1971 Chevron set that was unknown for a long time, but is no longer a mystery.



From vintage to modern times the Roughrider entry into our missing sweepstakes was issued just three years ago in 2020 titled Decades of Pride. Rather it was supposed to have been issued, but it looks like the pandemic induced cancellation of the CFL season resulted in the promotion being scrapped as there doesn't seem to be anybody that has a set. 

Mr. Lube Rider sets from 2018 and 2019 and 2021 are fairly hard to come by but the 2020 non-issue takes the cake. Only these two (or rather one and one partial) images are currently known although the checklist is known. Some rider fanatic out there must have a set, if only one that was produced for promotional purposes.


Cheating a bit here because I covered this issue earlier in this blog post about these player images printed in Winnipeg game programs in 1960 that were intended to be clipped out and stored in your HBC Junior Quarterback Club Scrapbook. Above are the players from the September 1st game against the Lions.

While the whole list of players from each program is not currently known, that is just a matter of looking them up and recording them. The real missing item is the explicitly named scrapbook that must have been available to Junior Quarterback Club members in 1960. Additionally while there is a mix of uniform styles shown in the photos, most look to be the newly adopted 1960 versions and so far as I know media photos that these images were sourced from have not been identified as yet.


Cheating again here because I don't have an example of any missing items that specifically were issued by the Eskimos. So to cover this off will just reiterate that the 1956  Parkhurst Football Photo-Magic issue offered enlargements of certain pictures to fans for 25 cents. These included Norm Kwong and Jackie Parker of the Eskimos, then at the absolute height of their fame and success. As well as Sam Etcheverry of the Alouettes at the height of his fame.

Hard to believe that no youngster in 1956 would have taken them up on this offer to put these heroes up on their bedroom walls. Well, maybe you can believe nobody was clamoring to get an enlargement of Aramis Dandoy, but most of the rest of the players were popular stars.   

So if you own or have ever seen and acquired an image of any one of the highlighted mystery items, please let me know and send me a picture of the item so I can take it out of the missing category.

Thursday 29 June 2023

Early 20th Century Toronto School Postcards

Valentine & Sons Postcard, 1906 postmark

When it comes to early postcards it was often common practice for the same or similar topical images to be used on multiple different issues produced by various different companies across a span of several years. One such subject was the Upper Canada College of Toronto and as luck would have it the image also contained a "football" game.

Toronto News Postcard, 1911 postmark

Well game maybe stretching it but the scene included a number of spectators and players standing both on and below the playing field, looking like they either were going to play soon or had just finished playing. Both of the goal posts can be seen in the background as well as a large stump in the foreground testifying to the newness of the college's grounds.

Nerlich 1905 Stereoscopic Card

The Upper Canada College was founded in 1829 modeled after the great English public schools and in 1891 it moved to the site where these photographs were taken in front of the grand Romanesque Revival style newly built school with an imposing 165 foot central tower. Most of these postcards were postmarked from around 1905 and up so that gives about a 15 year window as to when the image was actually captured.

W.G. McFarlane Postcard, 1904 postmark

Roughly concurrently with the stump evident postcards, another different image from the same vantage point but on the field itself was produced in this elegant gold logo embossed item. In this picture there is some action taking place among the three players farthest to the left and no goalposts are visible. What appears to maybe be a ball overhead might just be a smudge or spot on the card. The spectator at right is sitting cross-legged on the field.


Anonymous Postcard, 1907 postmark

The same image now colorized from an issuer with an elaborate logo but no actual name on the card. No sign of the ball overhead either. Another two versions of the same scene follow on two different anonymous manufacturer's postcards. 

Anonymous Postcard, 1914 postmark

But whether or not the game they are participating in was British Rugby or the version of British Rugby that was slowly modified by local rules until it eventually evolved into Canadian Football, is impossible to say. As the Upper Canada College was steeped in the English boarding school tradition, one would have thought British Rugby more likely. 

On the other hand the players are wearing more padded leggings than is typical of British Rugby and the Burnside Rules that mark a significant milestone of the separation of Rugby and Canadian Football rules had been adopted by the Ontario Rugby Football Union in 1903. Therefore it is certainly feasible that these rules had also been adopted by Toronto educational institutions around this time as well.


Anonymous Postcard, unused

Note that the last example of these postcards below has a different image where the players have shifted around but the fellow sitting cross-legged on the ground has not. Presumably then these are images from the same photo session on the same day.

Anonymous Postcard, 1905 postmark

So I had initially assumed that Upper Canada College was probably an early name for what eventually became the University of Toronto but this was hardly the case. In fact the Upper Canada College was the equivalent of what we now call a high school. And while I do believe that early British Rugby and/or Canadian Football themed memorabilia items should be catalogued (because the formative history of the sports in Canada are intertwined), as a general rule I do not include high school level items in the guides.

However there are similar cards that do feature the University of Toronto and these will be catalogued.

Raphael Tuck & Sons Postcard, 1906 postmark 

Here we see the University College main building that was completed in 1859 in a combined Romanesque Norman style and reconstructed after a devastating 1890 fire. The illustration here would have come from sometime after 1892. We also see earnest rugby/football players on the lawn somewhat reminiscent of the UCC scenes and a goalpost.

Raphael Tuck & Sons Postcard variation, 1906 postmark

Apparently these "Oilette" series of cards were first issued around 1903 and these two versions have different card numbers. It seemed that displaying the students engaged in robust physical activities in front of the stately buildings was a fairly common practice.

Anonymous Postcard, 1905

Above is a definitively Canadian issue that curiously had something to do with an official act of parliament. This is a pretty good rendering of what the athletes on those school postcards would have looked like up close. Is this Rugby or early Football? some mix of the two I would guess and will be catalogued. Love the steamrolled opponents lying in the background, one from the runners own team.

Incidentally the main building of the Upper Canada College was demolished in 1958 due to deterioration and poor workmanship. The main building of the University College of the University of Toronto is still standing today and has been designated a National Historic Site.

Friday 26 May 2023

Them Gumball Helmets

All nine 1967 Multiple Brands CFL Gumball Helmets  

Around 1967 a set of small plastic CFL themed helmets were produced, probably by one manufacturer but distributed by multiple different companies. So far complete helmet sets in white corrugated boxes have been identified from potato chip maker Humpty Dumpty Foods of Ontario, Federated Fine Foods of Manitoba and Orange Products Inc. of New Jersey (who would also produce NFL helmets in branded boxes and NHL novelties). They may have been available for a few seasons.

The helmets came with a large sticker sheet with team helmet logos (numbers for Calgary) and a second smaller sticker sheet with revised Calgary and B.C. helmet logos (some sets seem to have just included the 4 alternate logo stickers separately). There was also a third sticker sheet with seven team colored stripes (no Calgary or Montreal) so that you could customize each of the nine helmets helmets to match the team. Nine facemasks were also included and additionally there was a plastic goalpost tree you could assemble to hang the helmets on.

Three sticker sheets and two loose revised logo stickers

It is believed that beside full sets these were also available individually in gumball machines for 5 cents each. The  example shown below proves that they were at least packaged differently with separate team sticker sheets. An associated gumball capsule trophy that was supposed to stand for the Grey Cup but the resemblance was poor, also has been reported as having been available for a limited time. 

Although typically cellophane packaging was used when the item was in contact with food items which would not have been the case in the gumball capsule. I've seen references to versions with a pencil sharpener in the helmet as well and these definitely existed for NFL but I have no images of a CFL example to show

Late 1960's Argonauts single packaged helmet

By the early seventies you could buy PAX brand helmets, first in packages of 3 with three plastic footballs and eventually in a boxed set for all nine. The PAX helmets look cheaper than their earlier counterparts and the stripes were painted on rather than stickers. The glue used on the PAX logo stickers tended to dry up and the stickers fall off so if you find any unopened packages today, the stickers will be loose inside. The Alouettes, Argonauts, Eskimos and Tiger-Cats logos were different from the earlier helmet issues. There were also small oval stickers for the balls as well. 

Early 1970's carded PAX helmet packages with classic poster backgrounds 

All nine Early 1970's PAX CFL Gumball Helmets

PAX logo stickers

Eventually PAX issued a complete set of gumball helmets in a branded box with an elaborate gooseneck style goalpost stand that was much nicer than the old stand, except it only held six helmets at a time.

Early 1970's PAX Football Hobby Kit

I believe that this pictured city named ball is PAX related although it is a different style than the normal PAX balls from the carded packages or the box set. It is possible it could have been issued either early or late in the promotion but unfortunately I don't have any specifics. It was pictured in an auction with CFL gumball helmets so there is some relationship there. 

Multiple Brand goalpost tree on left, PAX goalpost tree on right

The two types of helmets are pretty easy to tell apart, since all but the Calgary and Toronto items have the stripes painted on the PAX versions, and even in those two cases it is clear, especially if you have both versions in hand. The following pictures show the differences in detail. There is no indication where the earlier helmets were manufactured but generally speaking production of certain novelty products was moved to Japan (50's, 60's), Hong Kong (60's, 70's), Taiwan (70's, 80's), Korea (80's, 90's) and now of course China.


1967 era helmet on left, PAX helmet on right

Besides the 1967 helmets being a deeper more translucent plastic, you can see the pins where the facemask attaches is shaped differently. The horse sticker is on backwards on this particular helmet.

The 1967 facemask has more rectangular edges whereas the PAX facemask is rounder and glossier.

Both helmets have four mold holes in the top but the PAX holes are larger and deeper.

The biggest difference is the underside of the helmet where the tabs are different sizes and the PAX helmet has "MADE IN HONG KONG" stamped inside.

So plenty of differences but the issue of which issuer it belongs to is complicated by the fact that everybody and their dog is now making these gumball helmets and selling them online, with every possible helmet logo variation from made to order sticker sheets. Since I don't know what the modern helmet shells look like, I don't know if you can differentiate them easily. Also in some cases manufacturers have managed to source the old toy maker molds so they may be producing exact replicas now.

Finally there exists a somewhat rarer gumball helmet that is about 1 1/2 times as large as the standard size helmet and in this case is in gold plastic but they came in many different colours. This larger toy was in a capsule labeled "Jokes ~ Tricks ~ Puzzles ~" and that is about all that is known about it.

Early 1960's Vending Machine large gumball helmet

You may not be able to make it out but the distinctive underside of the helmet says "MADE IN CANADA" which to me dates it definitely before the PAX helmets and probably before the 1967 helmets as well. Scrunched up inside the helmet was a sticker sheet with team names and stripes. Western Rider fans would have to find an Eastern sticker sheet for their team, oh well at least the team name was spelt wrong with a hyphen for both franchises.

So what are these items worth? Well near-mint versions of the 1967 sets were selling on ebay for $400-$500 about twenty years ago, so they probably would rate at least that today. The PAX set maybe $175-$275 depending on the determination of the buyer. $100 - $150 for the PAX sealed packaged versions depending on condition. 

As for individual helmets, assuming you can be assured that they are vintage and not modern reproductions I would think $20 to $30 would be a reasonable price for the 1967 helmets, $15 to $20 for the PAX helmets and $30 - $50 for the larger helmets with capsule & sticker sheet.

Whatever the style, these little helmets are challenging to pursue and fun to own.

Thanks to Wayne Shukin for some of the images used in this post.