Friday, 28 September 2018

There's Always Next Year ... So Time to Renew!

1964 Stampeder Season Ticket Renewal Pamphlet - Front 

One of the most interesting types of team ephemera and at the same time one of the most likely to have been discarded after it served its purpose, are the season ticket renewal brochures that it looks like began to be a separate distinct item some time in the sixties for most teams. This month's post will take a look at some of the more interesting examples of these that I have come across.

The above is among the earliest I am aware of and it is always interesting to look back now and see which of the highly touted newcomers actually ended up making a difference for the team. In this case Ted Woods was serviceable for a few seasons for the Stampeders and the rest, not so much. The smoking pleasure advertisement is killer too.

1964 Stampeder Season Ticket Renewal Pamphlet - Inside 

But the real killer here is the inside spread where almost unheard of for this time frame, full colour images of team stars were presented. These images came from a set of colour action photos that was catalogued in Collecting Canadian Football Volume II and is one of the very very few (like count them on the fingers of one hand and have fingers left over) sets that would have been shot in colour in those days. It is also one of my favorite Stampeder memorabilia pieces with four Hall of Famers (and should be five :  + Coleman).

1963 Eskimos Season Ticket Renewal Pamphlet - Front and Back

Above is an even earlier Eskimo brochure with their nifty green and gold colour scheme and a rendering of their sixties football shaped parka wearing Eskimo boy mascot, which is of course an innocent cartoon which explains why it does not resemble an actual indigenous human (or as it is known by today's standards, a hate crime). Thanks to Mike Smith-Knutsen for the scans.

If you have ever collected the 1963 Multiple Issuer Potato Chip plastic caps (often referred to as Nalley's but other chip brands were prominent as well) then you will recognize some of the player images on the brochure. The surprising thing is that so many newcomers to the team (7 out of 20 caps) were included, when you might normally expect to have had a greater percentage of veterans featured in the promotion. The images on the caps were of course, colorized from the team's B&W media photos.

1965 Rough Riders Season Ticket Renewal Pamphlet - Front and Back

The Ottawa 1965 brochure is notable for being one of the only ones that I have seen that features the opponent stars that season ticket holders could look forward to see play in the upcoming year, as well as one Rough Rider, Russ Jackson naturally. The three newcomers on the back page don't ring any bells.

Each of these images of opposing players were sourced from the relevant team's standard media photos (teams would accumulate player photos of other team's players and local newspapers would also have archives of players from many teams). Although there are two notable pictures, Bernie Faloney matches his 1963 Post Short Print White Back full length photo and Tommy Joe Coffey also matches his 1963 Post card picture.


1956 Blue Bomber - portion of newsletter and 1965 Blue Bomber pamphlet - Front

Initially teams would communicate their season ticket renewal information via team newsletters as shown above left, taken from one of the the Blue Bombers substantial multi-season publication "The Blue & The Gold". Eventually most teams transitioned to a standalone pamphlet, the example above right was designed to be mailed to the existing season ticket holder and presumably contained renewal information within. 

It seems to me (not always, but often) that collectibles from the sixties have slightly more oomph to them than those from the seventies. But for the remaining teams I have never seen a season ticket brochure dating from the sixties so the next best thing are some samples from the following decade.

1973 Roughriders Season Ticket Renewal Pamphlet - Back and Front

Astre-nomical prizes were the theme of the Roughriders 1973 season ticket selling campaign. Fans were encouraged to convince other fans to sigh up for tickets and the fan that managed the most referrals would be the owner of a sweet new Pontiac Astre with other prizes consisting of colour TVs. The inside of the brochure has more contest and prize details with no player images.  Thanks to Chris Coult for the scans.

1974 Alouettes Season Ticket Renewal Pamphlet - Inside pages

Montreal fans were encouraged to purchase season tickets with a brochure that highlighted a drawing of their ordinary superstar, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers. The other side of the folding brochure featured the same player graphic, stadium and city maps and transit information to get to the stadium. Thanks to Erle Schneidman for the scans.

1976 Argonauts Newsletter - Front and Back pages

It appears that well into the seventies both the Toronto Argonauts and the B.C. Lions were still communicating the details of their season ticket offerings via team newsletter, although the existence of these pieces of ephemera does not necessarily preclude the possible existence of specific specialized brochures for the same purpose.

1976 Lions Newsletter - Front and Back pages

As for Hamilton they are a bit of a mystery. It seems I have never come across any season ticket renewal publications for the Tiger-Cats or I just am not able to locate any in my image files maybe. They must have communicated the details of their prices and seat availability to their fans over the years, but it is not known in what format that information was produced.

1960 O.R.F.U. London Lords Season Ticket Renewal Pamphlet - Outside pages

There are of course some season ticket renewal pieces of ephemera floating around for teams other than the nine primary historical CFL franchises. The London Lords were established in the Ontario Rugby Football Union (O.R.F.U.) in 1956, two years after the league had stopped competing for the Grey Cup. They won the last O.R.F.U. Senior championship in 1960 and the following year they (and their league) transitioned to what became known as the intermediate level of competition.

As you might imagine there are a lot of really attractive (some less so) and unique Season Ticket renewal memorabilia items available to track down as they have been issued for decades for each team. Interestingly, this is one category of ephemera that continues to be intermittently produced on paper right up to the current digital era, sometimes still with great graphics and player images and sometimes not. Collecting the vintage ones is a real challenge because most are definitely very hard to find.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Who Was Who Was No Easy Matter - (Volume 1 Addition)

1960 Action between Ottawa and Toronto at Exhibition Stadium

What information could be determined about the participants from the vintage CFL game action photograph above, if it was not captioned? If you are well versed in Canadian football history you could identify Ottawa from their distinctive uniform pant stripes and Toronto from their light helmets and perhaps even that the game was in Toronto because that is what the North stands at Exhibition Stadium looked like. The style of uniforms with the two bar facemasks should lead you to estimate a late fiftiess or early sixties time period. Other than that, despite the fact that the players have jersey numbers on the fronts, backs, sides and helmets, the participants are fairly anonymous because you don't have a key as to who wore what number for each team in this era.

Queen's vs Ottawa Grey Cup Semi-Final Program - November 28, 1925 

Jersey numbers appear to have been first worn in football or football derivative games in other parts of the world around 1910 with some photographic evidence of outlying earlier occurrences. I don't know exactly when numbers were adopted onto Canadian football jerseys (likely first in Ontario regionally and then rapidly adopted elsewhere) but this would be an interesting question to research for the answer. Quickly scanning some of my image archives I see that pictures of at least some of the Queen's Grey Cup Championship teams of the early twenties do not appear to be wearing numbers, but by 1925 the program above shows that the players were assigned numbers.

Ottawa game program player pictures - November 5, 1932

Using Ottawa as an example by the early thirties you could see that the player numbers were listed in the program but judging from the pictures they must have just been worn on the backs of the jerseys. A couple of years later and photographic evidence from an opponents program shows that the players had numbers on the fronts of their jerseys by then as well.

Montreal game program pictures of Ottawa players - October 20, 1934

So if you attended the game you could buy a game program to see the lineup and determine which player wore which number for your viewing appreciation. Depending on how big a fan you were you might have even memorized a few of your favorite star players numbers, or possibly even most of the team (as they had much smaller rosters in those days). But what if you did not attend the games or you lived in a region where no Canadian football team was close enough for you to travel to the stadium?

Ottawa Citizen game day story and probable lineups - September 16, 1937
Probably Late Thirties London Life Rugby for Radio Listeners guidebook  

In that case the local papers would provide you with the numerical roster and with the help of booklets like the London Life Rugby For Radio Listeners series you could follow along to the radio broadcast, although the announcer would likely have used the players names rather than their numbers more often than not while describing the play.

Sometimes a player roster was available from other sources such as the thicker cardboard combination numerical listings and season schedule for the Big Four in 1949. Unless this was part of a larger piece of ephemera then why something this meager would have rated a 10 cent charge in 1949 is a bit of a mystery.

1949 Big Four Schedule & Roster Card

Once Television became the primary medium for fans who were not in attendance to consume sporting events in the early fifties, the viewer's problem was compounded as now you could see anonymous numbered players all over the field all game long. You can read about the relationship between TV in Canada and Canadian football at this informative site.

Ottawa Citizen weekend rosters - October 22, 1954

Newspapers continued to provide the necessary links between players and their jersey numbers for the almost two decades where games were televised and players were identified only by numbers on their uniforms. Now if you weren't in a position to buy game programs you might have expected to try your luck with some different publications assuming you could get your hands on them.

1964 Ottawa Rough Rider Media Guide - roster without jersey numbers    

Media guides were chock full of information about the team and the players, unfortunately jersey numbers were not always part of the content. Media guides were also typically not available to your average fan and numbers produced were roughly consistent with those that needed to be made available to the various media outlet personnel.

Eventually some of the fan publications would start to provide rosters in pre-season guides that you could save and refer to during the game. Naturally these would tend to become somewhat inaccurate as player changes were effected over the course of the season.

1969 Sports Canada - Ottawa roster page 

Finally towards the very end of the era where players wore no nameplates on their jerseys CFL Properties realized that here was a niche they could fill with a specialized product. Beginning in 1970 the New! Official Roster Packet was advertised in some (but curiously not all?) of the local insert portions of the CFL illustrated programs.

Roster Packet Advertisement - New! for 1970 yet thousands loved it the prior year?

These are pretty rare today as perhaps not that many were produced and even fewer survived. I recently saw a near mint set for the first time on ebay from the 1970 season and snapped it up, it did not come cheap as with all the fees it came in at around $150 for the set (I offered about half the initial buy it now), but following the old adage, if you want this sort of hyper rare CFL item then buy it as soon as you see it, or forget it...

1970 Header Card and Ottawa Rough Rider Card - Schedule Side

The cards were small at 2 1/4" X 3 1/2" and were designed to be used during game times by positioning the two teams involved in the plastic holder (2 3/4" X 3 13/16") with the rosters for both teams on opposite sides. Offensive players were printed in blue with defensive players printed in red.

1970 Header Card - reverse and Ottawa Rough Rider Card - Player Roster Side

Now one of the reasons I was so interested in these roster cards was I recall having a set as a kid watching the games, however I remember them as larger than these cards and it seemed to me that my set was 1971 or later and I could have sworn that I saw a post 1970 set advertised in some CFL publication, but naturally I cannot locate it now that I need it no matter where I look. So lacking any firm proof and not willing to trust my memory that far back, at the present time only one year of these interesting curiosities is confirmed.

1970 Grey Cup game action - QB Sonny Wade and QB Jerry Keeling sporting just numbers

A quick look at the old video shows that the 1970 Grey Cup game was played in the jerseys with no names, while the same exercise for the 1971 Grey Cup game shows that putting the player names onto the jerseys had finally been adopted in the CFL at some point during that season.

1971 Grey Cup game action - QB Joe Theismann and TE Herm Harrison sporting names

So pending the confirmation of potentially a second set of roster cards, it would appear that this product had outlived its usefulness after only one or maybe two seasons at most. Once the viewer could plainly see the names associated with all those jersey numbers there was no point to the roster cards and they faded into obscurity.

I hadn't originally intended to make this post so Ottawa specific with regards to all the roster listings, but it fell into place early and then seemed logical to just stick with it to the end.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Random Cool New/Old Collectibles From the West

This month I thought I'd highlight some of the cool newly discovered collectible items from the Western CFL teams, most of which were issued a long time ago and none of which were known to me at the time of the original publications of the Collecting Canadian Football Volume I & Volume II catalogues. As I have noted many times, it is this near constant stream of discovery of previously unknown items that makes collecting CFL and Canadian football material so intriguing.


Late Seventies Photo Sports Large Format Photograph of RB James Sykes  

First up a fabulous Calgary Stampeders recent find snagged from an ebay auction by a local dealer who always has interesting CFL items and prices them very reasonably. This was advertised as a poster but in fact it turned out to be a much higher end glossy photograph on thick quality Kodak photo paper measuring 16" X 20". The issuer name is embossed with gold lettering on the photo at bottom right. The item is too big for my scanner so the picture above has a shadow from when I photographed it and some shrink wrapping plastic wrinkles at bottom.

I believe this was issued in 1979 as a local Calgary newsprint sport magazine from that season had a cover image that looks very much like it was produced from the same photo session. Something like this may have been made available to the general public or it may have been produced for the team itself, in any case it is very rare and obviously not many survived.

The same magazine cover image also features Stampeder standouts of the era RB Willie Burden and WR Willie Armstead leading me to suppose that they might also have received the 16" X 20" glossy photo treatment so there may be more players out there than just Sykes. The item has a few scratches and defects in the grass margins but otherwise is in superlative shape and as any experienced CFL collector knows, team issued items from the seventies (especially colour ones, extra especially large colour ones) are damn near non-existent. 


Early Sixties Trudeau's Cleaners Coloring Page Drawing of G Larry Fleisher 

Next up a fantastic Edmonton Eskimos item that is part of a set of 35 according to the item itself! This beauty was unearthed and the image sent to me by serious Eskimo collector and team history buff Mike Smith-Knutsen. The item is obviously highly disposable as it was targeted at kids and was  designed to be colored with crayons or coloring pencils, but 35 would seem to be a pretty high number in those days of much more limited rosters and perhaps this included some coaches as well.

Mike indicates the drawing is interesting as it is listed as Larry Fleisher, but Al Ecuyer wore 53 in those years, Fleisher wore 21 in 1960 and 52 from 1961-1963. Either way the spiked brass knuckles are a nice touch.  Trudeau's was a very well known Edmonton dry cleaning business and was a regular supporter of the team issuing and distributing team logo stickers from 1968 through 1971.
Their main location at 142 Street and 111 avenue was right next to a Stanfields underwear store which was cause for some amusement for the locals during the late sixties and early seventies national elections.

These items are obviously not going to be very easy to come by, good luck finding the remaining 34 Mike!


Early Seventies Clayton's Hairstyling Postcard of QB Don Jonas 

This nifty item was spotted at an online Winnipeg antiques dealer's website if I recall correctly, but it looks to have been since scooped by a savvy collector. Hairstyling and football don't normally intersect very often but here we see exactly that, with star Bomber QB Jonas endorsing a local business with the slogan "Hairstyling for men on the move".

There were probably fewer than 500 of these printed and most would have been long ago destroyed. Jonas' Schenley win for Most Valuable Player in 1971 is referenced on the card so it is no older than  1972 and his last year with the team was 1974 although the message (which may be printed on the postcard, or may be a actual autographs) seems to indicate some sort of past tense sentiment.

As always the primary directive when seeing something like this, if you are interested in it, is to buy it immediately, because it will be gone the next time you go back to see if it is still there, and the chances of finding another one are minuscule.


Mid Sixties Team Issue Picture Card of Lineman Ron Atcheson  » Atchison

This fine item of Roughrider Hall of Famer Ron Atchison was found and the image sent to me by super Rider collector and preserver of team history Barry Shefernack. It looks to be a printed picture (as opposed to an actual photograph) on thinner stock and is 3 1/2" X 5 1/2" in size. The item appears to be from 1965 as there is no mention of the 1966 Grey Cup win and Atchison's awards from the 1964 season are noted.

The most unusual thing about the piece is the misspelling of Atchison's name as Atcheson getting through proofing onto the finished product. The signature on the front is an actual autograph and not part of the printing process. Whether or not this was a single item produced for the local Saskatchewan product or there were more similar informational cards for other players is unknown.

From my experience these sort of small print run obscure issues are significantly less common to stumble upon for the Roughriders than any of the other western teams. Perhaps because for most of the decades from the fifties through the nineties the team operated on very tight budgets and extra production of memorabilia was low on the priority list.

British Columbia

Well for B.C. I was planning to feature a very unusual and rare crest that looked to have been issued in 1954, the first year of the Lions franchise (not the well-known but also rare 1954 QB Club crest) , but when I went to my image archives to find it, it appears to have vanished.

After much searching I came to realize that when moving files between folders and expressly indicating to keep BOTH files when filenames matched, Windows was instead overwriting the files, causing me to lose somewhere around 100 or so pictures of rare vintage things. Oh, and somewhere along the way one of the incessant Windows 10 updates decided to turn OFF my scheduled backups too, so the files are not there either. So thanks Windows - burn in hell you steaming pile of putrid garbage.

Early 2010's 7-11 Plastic Mug of SB Geroy Simon 

Instead I have had to settle for something considerably more recent, but not well known and probably fairly difficult to get your hands on today, just a few years later, anyway.

At some point during Geroy Simon's storied career on the west coast a promotion was held featuring his likeness and facsimile autograph on an industrial size plastic slurpee mug. I am not sure of the year of issue but I believe this was towards the end of his time in B.C. so 2010, 2011 or 2012 possibly. These might have been advertised in what passed for game programs in those years (probably more like an informational flyer) in Vancouver and probably via posters and window glass displays at 7-11 outlets.

But unless you lived in the lower mainland area, and happened to have seen the product during the promotion, and wanted to drink a gallon of slurpee so you bought one and kept it, good luck finding one now.   

Finally for good measure something previously uncatalogued from one of the Western American CFL teams.


1993 Coors Gold Miner Schedule Poster

Pictured above is a Coors sponsored schedule poster for the first year of the American experiment with the expansion Sacramento Gold Miners. While it is not player themed it is still an interesting artifact of the era.

That's all for now, at some point in the future I will provide a similar post covering random cool new/old things from the East.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

The CFL Gets Its Crown Corporation Due - (Volume 1 Addition)

In service to the taxpayers of this country, over the past few decades Canada Post has produced quite a large number of attractive stamp and related ephemera sets commemorating hockey and great hockey players. Finally in 2012 in conjunction with the 100th Grey Cup Anniversary celebrations the government agency turned its designers loose on Canadian Football, and the results were attractive, historically interesting and presented a multi-faceted collecting challenge.

Team Logo Definitives issued June 29, 2012 

Firstly there were eight small definitives issued one per team with team logo on the modern sticker type of paper attached to a waxy background with a wavy die cut edge. The stamps carry the P denomination meaning they are permanently worth the going rate for a basic letter regardless of when they are used. The stamps were sold in strips of 4 or 8 and you could also order a set of all 8 teams in either size, or you could order a roll of 50 of any specific team.

Now stamp collectors are very particular people and variations or differences are something they specialize in, beginning with the basic distinction between a mint unused stamp and a postally used one. These types of sticker stamps are somewhat difficult to remove from paper once affixed and often times they are "cancelled" not by hand stamp or automated machine cancellation, but by straight lines scribbled over top of them with a permanent marking pen. Because of this well cancelled used specimens are typically rarer than unused ones.   

Gutter pair, Gutter End and Gutter Start strip examples 

Some collectors also differentiate between the stamps on a roll with the small gutter sticker between a pair or with the gutter at the start or end of a roll position (noted by the wavy die cut through the gutter sticker). Also available was a cute little team themed Canada Post mailbox to dispense your roll of stamps.

Definitives Souvenir Sheet

Each definitive stamp was also available in a more traditional gummed paper on the team souvenir sheet. Finding nicely cancelled privately used versions of these variants would also be a pretty big challenge as consumers are less likely to break up the sheet to use the stamps Finally, an official first day cover with the complete souvenir sheet was issued and orderable online.

Definitives Official First Day Cover

The next product for the 100th Anniversary of the Grey Cup was a set of 8 commemorative sticker stamps highlighting one representative great player from each team and one classic moment from each team's historical championship legacy, including some of the most epic in the history of the game such as the Grey Cup Mud, Fog and Ice Bowls. The ninth stamp in the set celebrates the Grey Cup itself.

100th Grey Cup Commemoratives issued August 16, 2012
(machine and hand cancelled)

Each Stamp was sold online and in post offices in booklets of 10 with the stamp's striking graphics reproduced in larger form on the front cover and a historical write up with the Grey Cup on the back covers. The image above was from a nice Ebay lot of all the stamps postally used and buying something like this in one shot is a lot easier than collecting them yourself one at a time. 

100th Grey Cup Commemoratives Booklets of 10

Each of the nine commemorative stamps was also featured on a souvenir sheet on traditional gummed paper with regular perforations, however these stamps were embossed with parts of every stamp design raised in relief making for a unique collectible. The embossed effect is not particularly visible on the scan below. Of course well cancelled used versions of the embossed stamps are considerably harder to acquire.

100th Grey Cup Commemoratives Embossed Souvenir Sheet, Framed Art Print
and Limited Edition Signed Framed Art Print

Framed art prints of the Commemorative designs for each of the nine teams were available online and at post offices for somewhere around $69.99 if memory serves. Also 300 limited edition player signed larger framed prints with a different layout and more components were produced for a considerably higher cost, although I can't remember the exact amount and after some period of time they were reduced online by up to 50%. The stamps embedded in the frame were of the sticker die-cut type (confirmed for the smaller frame, assumed for the larger one).


100th Grey Cup Commemoratives Official First Day Edmonton Cover

As you might expect a set of nine Official First Day Covers with specialized postmarks and detailed historical write-ups were produced. If that is still not enough, then you could also buy a set of nine pre-stamped postcards with variations of the same graphics.

100th Grey Cup Commemoratives Pre-Stamped Winnipeg Postcard

If you visited your local Canada Post post office during the summer of 2012 you could have picked up for free the aptly named quarterly publication called details, which in fact contains a ton of details and historical facts about these CFL issues. You can review the contents today at the digital archive here and here although the original insert order form showing what all of the items initially cost is not reproduced in the PDF's, you will need an actual copy of the magazine for that.

Volume XXI No 3 of Details magazine and fold up double sided Poster and product catalogue 

Also for free was a nice folded poster with a large reproduction of the Grey Cup stamp on one side and all of the products illustrated and prices indicated on the other. The post office was a good place to maybe get your hands on some of the rarer display items that were set up in the retail establishments such as wall posters, desktop blotter poster and poster strip, stand up cardboard display and on delivery van panel posters. Eventually most of this stuff was probably just thrown away or recycled so it will be considerably rarer than the regular issue material.

Post Office promotional materials, clockwise from top left - Counter top blotter poster, Cardboard advertising standup, Toronto specific retail poster, Delivery van side panel all-weather poster.
I managed to resist the impulse to climb up and try to slide the panel poster out when I came upon this delivery van parked downtown.  

Now I know what you are probably thinking, all of these collectibles are really not enough for an ultimate fan, so yes indeed for those for which all of this stuff is insufficient, you could by one of 8,000 Ultimate CFL Fan Sets for $199.95 + tax in a nicely engraved wooden display box.

2012 Ultimate Fan Set with both souvenir sheets, a set of team logo pins, replica numbered Grey Cup, 100th Grey Cup Commemorative silver medallion and normal circulation 100th Grey Cup Commemorative Loonie 

Once the Toronto Argonauts had won the 100th Grey Cup in 2012, Canada Post re-issued the Grey Cup Commemorative stamp (only) in booklet form with the Argos logo and the same on each stamp. It is not clear if they printed more or held some back from the original print run to add the winning team's logo after the result was known.

The Ultimate set also came with a 28 page historical Booklet with the Grey Cup Commemorative stamp affixed and "postmarked" on the front. Displayed above are the set's silver medallion modeled after the stamp and the subsequently reissued stamp and booklet with Argo logo.

But wait, there's more... All Canada Post issues are made available for collectors to purchase in quarterly packs and then at the end of the year a lavish album with foil engraved slipcover is published. The album contains 18 pages of CFL historical information and photographs which do not appear in any of the other formats of collectibles issued. 

2012 Quarterly Stamp Pack 03 - $26.23 and 2012 Yearly Album $66.95

The quarterly pack includes all loose stamps and the two souvenir sheets while the album includes just the two souvenir sheets (of course both including examples of all other postage stamps issued that period as well). However the 100th Commemoratives were die cut from booklets, resulting in a section of the booklet backing being affixed to the stamp, which in cataloging terms would make this a format variation. While the logo Definitives were die cut from coils but there is no backing, the stamps seem to have the normal moisten to use glue on the backs and not the sticker stamp type of glue, perhaps should be catalogued as a variation.

Two die cut Commemorative stamps from the quarterly pack showing the backing, issued Commemorative embossed souvenir sheet bar code top, promotional display bar code bottom, combined Canada Post & Canada Mint coin & stamp set.  

One unusual thing that I have noticed is that in every case where the promotional material (Details magazine, Ultimate Set box cover, Collection Canada album) pictured the 100th Grey Cup Commemoratives Souvenir Sheet, the image does not show the individual stamp embossing and the UPC bar code is different from the actual embossed Sheet that was sold online, came with the Ultimate Set or came with the Quarterly Pack/Collection Canada album. I am not sure if this was only a graphic design peculiarity or if there actually was a separate non-embossed sheet ever produced. If so I have never seen one without the embossing.

The post office and the mint combined to package the Commemorative stamps with a specially issued quarter highlighting each team`s Grey Cup wins in a fold out cardboard package with more historical photos and details reproduced inside. The coin & stamps set cost $25.95 when first issued. Besides that team pens and team greeting cards were available.

Various envelope designs with special Day of Issue cancellations

I am not quite sure of the process but I believe that enterprising philatelists can produce their own envelopes and on the specific day of issue, have the postmaster cancel to order their self made first day covers. A number of these are reproduced above, they come with vintage team logos, vintage helmets, mode modern helmets, the Grey Cup and the 100th Grey Cup logo with various postmark designs from the CFL cities.These are unofficial but nice keepsakes anyways.

Ottawa RedBlacks Commemorative & Definitive issued June 19, 2014
Booklet, Official First Day Cover and a pair of envelopes with day of issue cancellations

Two years after the 2012 100th Grey Cup Anniversary celebrations in 2014 when Ottawa rejoined the league, Canada Post would revisit these designs and issue some similar RedBlacks material. One Commemorative stamp (with Booklet of 10) , one Definitive logo stamp and one Official First Day Cover were produced with Russ Jackson the player selected to represent the Ottawa Rough Riders historical connection, naturally.

These were also available in the relevant quarterly pack (presumably as format and variant differences) but at over $80 for the pack it is a pretty steep price to pay just to get those two CFL stamps. I would also assume they make an appearance in the year end Album, however there was no souvenir sheet issued.

I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to add up just exactly how many collectibles were issued by Canada Post here in total, I don`t have the figure and cataloguing all of this properly is a pretty major chore, but the answer will obviously be a hell of a lot. Given the opportunity, it is clear that Canada's Crown Corporations went all out for the CFL and Canadian Football.

Friday, 25 May 2018

More Post Variety - (Volume 1 Update)

Three years ago I outlined the visual differences in 1963 Post cereal box back cards that had different varieties issued in this Post Variety blog entry. So now I think it is time to highlight additional information that has come to light about both the 1962 & 1963 Post card issues, because of which Volume I of Collecting Canadian Football (2010) is not as entirely accurate as it could be.

1962 Grocery Store Advertising display  

First up is the uncatalogued large in store advertising promotional associated item that was printed on some sort of waxy paper stock. The item illustrates (some partially) six of the cards that appeared in the set, although not all of them occur on the insert panels that are specified in the artwork. It is not clear if this particular item has been somewhat trimmed from the original size or if it was issued this way to fit a specific shaped backing stand for store placement. If I recall correctly this item sold for somewhere around $300 on ebay a few years back, you don't see too many of these around.

Next as explained in Volume I there were ten short-printed cards identified as "White Backs" which were printed on a different type of cereal box stock than the normal brown backed cards, three of which also had regular brown backed versions of the card making the white back a variation. Now if you are holding the card in your hand or have a scan of the back it is pretty easy to tell if you are looking at a short print or not, but if all you have is a scan of the front of the card on ebay, it can help to know how to easily spot some of the variants.


Card No.1 Don Clark regular brown back at left, white back at right. Some of the scans were kindly provided to me by Rick Pauloski and were taken with the cards in sheets so that is why you see the sheet pocket hologram at bottom right. 

 The first of the three cards with a white back variant is pretty difficult to tell apart as the photo cropping is just about identical. You can always tell in person as the white backs have black borders and text and the brown backs have dark blue borders and text, but as you can see from all of these scans variations in colour registration, light levels and scanner calibration can make it just about impossible to be 100% sure of a cards composition just from the image alone. Black and dark blue look an awful lot alike in most cases online.

In Clark's case the regular card seems washed out and the short print has deeper more vivid colours, but this may just be these particular scans as the other pairs pretty much exhibit the opposite effect.    

Card No. 51 Jim Rountree, regular brown back at left, white back at right. 

The second of the three cards again is cropped almost identically, but the regular card has the deeper colours and the short print is washed out and less intense. This player is unusual also because of the studio shot instead of the normal outdoor photograph.

Card No. 82 Kenny Ploen, regular brown back at left, white back at right. White back example has some paper loss bottom right. 

The third card is easy to differentiate as no left shoe laces are visible on the regular card and Ploen's hand touches the image border while the short print shows the left shoe and Ploen's hand does not touch the border.

Card No. 30 Dave Thelen, regular brown back at left, white back at right. 

Since publication of Volume I two more white back short prints have been identified, Dave Thelen and John Barrow. Thelen's cards again show the colour intensity difference but the easiest way to tell them apart is the team name OTT. on the left and OTTAWA on the right.

Card No. 56 John Barrow, regular brown back at left, white back at right.

Barrow's cards show the colour intensity difference, have either two windows on the building top right or three, have visible fingers on his stance hand touching the ground or not and his French language position is Plaqueur on the brown back and Bloqueur on the white back.

It was thought that the original ten white backs had been printed 5 per 2 short printed box back panels, so now perhaps there were six per panel or perhaps there was a third panel and more short prints variants have yet to be confirmed.

1963 Alpha-Bits 7 oz. intact box paired next to 1963 Alpha-Bits 10 oz. intact box, both sides

Moving on to the 1963 Post set the above images show that the side panel checklist and order form (both catalogued as individual associated items in Collecting Canadian Football Volume I) came in different sizes depending on which cereal box it was printed on. There were 27 different panels produced on nine different brand / size box combinations, ranging from unknown product weight through 7, 8 1/2, 10, 13, 14 and 15 oz. product weight boxes.  Since some of the boxes from different brands may have been the same dimensions it is not known exactly how many distinct sized side panels exist.

1963 Alpha-Bits 7 oz. intact box paired next to 1963 Alpha-Bits 10 oz. intact box, fronts

  What this photo of the two boxes makes clear is that the size of the promotional cards on the fronts also varied depending on the brand / size of the product. Since Volume I catalogued only a single instance of each of the nine players (one from each team) and certain players are known to exist in more than one size, those listings were obviously inaccurate.

Now it would be tempting to think that with nine teams and nine selected promotional players and 27 different boxes in terms of the panels, that each promotional player appears on three different sized box front cards, but this is far from certain and there is no guarantee that the promotion was laid out that symmetrically. Since the box brand / weights varied so much and so few are known intact, we really don't know what the corresponding card size is for every potential product.

Recently a fantastic assortment of these box front promotional cards has been available on Ebay here if you have very deep pockets. If you follow through to the description on the sellers website they have quite a bit of information on the cards including more accurate dimensions for one of the different sizes as I had rounded up to the nearest 16th of an inch in the guide. This lot allowed the seller to identify four distinct sizes:

  • Small (2 7/8 X 1 7/8)
  • Medium Type 1 (3 13/32 X 2 7/32)
  • Medium Type 2 (3 17/32 X 2 5/16)
  • Large (4 1/4 X 2 7/8)

Large sized card above left, Medium Type 1 card above right
Presumably the paws on the Large cards (whose measurements include the additional two tone frame, but could just as easily not include it) belong to Sugar Bear from the larger Sugar Crisp box
(It could also theoretically be a Crispy Critter's paws but unlikely since that cereal did not come in the larger size box) 

and we have the following 9 box product / size combinations (3 of each were issued) in product weight order where known, with the confirmed card size indicated where applicable:

  • Grape Nut Flakes ? oz.       
  • Alpha Bits 7 oz.                  (Small)
  • Sugar Crisp 8 1/2 oz.          
  • Alpha Bits 10 oz.                (Medium Type 1)
  • Crispy Critters 10 oz.          
  • Grape Nuts 10 oz. - Short Print White Backs
  • Sugar Crisp 13 oz.              (Large)
  • Bran Flakes 14 oz.
  • Alpha Bits 15 oz.

Medium Type 1 sized card above left, Small card above right
Besides the actual dimensions of the card the photo cropping is usually different, especially on the small cards, but otherwise the cards and their graphic elements are remarkably similar and seem to take up the same percentage of space regardless of card size 

As you can see without a detailed comparison of the cards side by side it is pretty difficult to determine which size you are looking at, especially since you will almost certainly never come across more than one at a time in a normal situation. I have tried to keep the images shown here in the proper width and height ratios for each card in relation to the other sizes. The white space around each card does get progressively larger from size to size so that is some help is viewing a single card front online.

Large sized card above left, Medium Type 2 card above right top, Small card above right bottom
So far Ray Purdin is the only Player to be known on the Medium Type 2 size but at least two more cards for this size are highly likely to exist. I have assumed that the smallest card image is of the stated Small dimensions but it is not guaranteed as this card image came from a different source than the comparative lot

So to sum up what we currently know here are the 16 cards that are confirmed by size and sometimes by cereal type:


  • Shatto, Henley , Kapp (Alpha Bits 7 oz.), Dixon, Purdin, Kruger

Medium Type 1

  • Jackson, Ploen, Shatto, Day, Dixon, Kruger (Alpha Bits 10 oz.)

Medium Type 2

  • Purdin


  • Dixon, Ploen, Purdin (All Sugar Crisp 13 oz)

Large sized card above left, Small sized card above right

Now we also know that it seems likely that each of the three boxes per cereal would have had a different player (like the Large cards) and that at least some players appear on three different size cards, and that the maximum number of different promo cards would be 27 (one per different box panel). But we don't know that the sizes of the cards on all of the different brands of say 10 oz. cereal would be any different so a player might have been issued multiple times but once cut from the box be indistinguishable from each other.

The lot seller also indicated that they believed the box front promo cards were produced regionally by CFL city, making the advertising cards from Montreal and Toronto the most available and the others, somewhat scarcer. In my opinion the chances that this was true are pretty much zero. For this to happen each of the 27 different box designs would have had to have been printed with Shatto for the Toronto market, with Dixon for the Montreal market and so forth. In an era when offset printing of the cereal boxes meant you needed to produce a specific large metal offset plate to print the cereal box (flat both sides together then folded to make a box) then this would have required production of 243 different plate designs instead of just 27.

Finally the most intriguing aspect of these box front promo cards, of which clearly a minuscule percentage survived compared to the regular box back cards, is that there would also have been three produced on the Grape Nuts 10 oz. - Short Print White Backs packaging. Just as the white backs are an order of magnitude rarer than the regular cards, white back box front promo cards could be considered the absolute holy grail of Post early sixties CFL cereal cards.

Alpha-Bits box back panel header card above left, Crispy Critters above right

Wrapping this blog entry up, as suggested in the write-up for the Post 1963 set in Collecting Canadian Football Volume I there were indeed different promotional box back panel header cards produced per cereal brand as the image above proves.