Monday, 29 July 2019

Flip Fluctuations

Recently a question was asked on the blog about the Flip series of CFL football cloth dolls and since I had a huge amount of information and images on these (almost all thanks to advanced collector Joe Gill) waiting to be compiled into a post, here it is.

The product was naturally originally issued as NFL dolls (and advertised as AFL as well) in 1960 and there are a number of variations and oddities relating to those items but of course this post is going to just deal with CFL specifics. The CFL themed dolls were most likely initially issued the following season.

Type I 1961? Columbia Flip Dolls, Hamilton & Calgary
(The Calgary doll face and helmet was amended with felt pen by the original owner, the Hamilton face is definitive for type I)

What I am designating Type I dolls are easily distinguishable by numerous features. If the football patch is still on the doll it has stitches at top and the city and team name are used. There are circular protrusions on the sides of the helmets and no team logos or insignia. Some of the helmets feature a center stripe that is painted on the flat surface.

The face has a significant indented profile, the mouth is black and the iris is at the 10:30 position of the pupil. The chin strap is white and the buckle is on the left side of the head. The fingers are detailed and the thumb on the left hand is bent. The pants are a corduroy style of fabric and the feet face forward.

Type I 1961? Columbia Flip Doll box front, sides and top.
The back and bottom of the box is blank.

Type I dolls were apparently packaged in the same boxes used for the American dolls and were likely produced and distributed from Kansas City where Columbia Toy Products was based. These dolls came with a strip of vinyl numbers so you could personalize your doll. At the present time it is unknown if any of the Type I dolls ever came with garment tags that should have indicated manufacture in the USA.

Type I 1961? Columbia Flip Doll reverse with vinyl numbers applied
and unused vinyl number sheet

Subsequently in 1962 a Type II Flip Doll was issued. Differences with the Type I dolls are easy to spot. Only team names (no city, except to differentiate Ottawa and Saskatchewan Riders) are on the football patches. There are circular indentations on the sides of the much more rounded shaped helmets with a raised molded center helmet stripe. Some teams have their 1962 helmet design features, such as the horseshoe for Calgary, the lightning bolts for Winnipeg & Ottawa, the wings for Montreal and so forth.

The face has a a flatter profile, the mouth is red and the iris is at the 12:00 position of the pupil. The chin strap is brown and the buckle is on the right side of the head. The fingers are less detailed and the thumb on the left hand is not bent. The pants are a canvas style of fabric and the feet face forward.

Type II 1962 Mondrich or Allied Flip Dolls, Toronto & Saskatchewan

Production of Type II dolls was shifted to Canada where the product is known to have been available in Mondrich Sales and Allied Toy specific boxes (with the Mondrich likely considerably more common), both companies based in Toronto. The vinyl numbers were no longer offered and dolls are known to have been issued with blue tags (Mondrich) and white tags (Allied) but perhaps most frequently can also be found with no tags at all.

Type II 1962 Mondrich Flip Doll box front, sides and top. Winnipeg Blue Bomber version.
The bottom of the box is blank except for a box manufacturer insignia.

Evidence that the toys were issued in 1962 comes in the form of the official 1962 Grey Cup Kickoff by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. Standing to the left is Miss Grey Cup (Miss Ottawa Rough Rider) from 1962, Renata Pikelis and she is holding a Type II Ottawa Flip doll. The Mondrich Sales box has a series of referee calls illustrated on the back including No Yards bottom left affirming that this was a Canadian football specific product.

The probably much rarer Allied Toy box does not have anything printed on the box back but the doll inside in this case is a Type II.

Type II 1962 Allied Flip Doll box front and back. Ottawa Rough Riders version.

Mondrich apparently used A. T. & C. Novelty Co. for manufacturing, whereas Allied did their own manufacturing.

Type II 1962 Mondrich Flip Doll blue tag and Type II Allied Flip Doll white tag 

A third variant designated Type III has also been identified, and these were known to have been issued by Mondrich (at least) and probably represent a second production run after the first run was fully distributed. In the absence of any other information these are also considered to have been issued in 1962.

Type III can be differentiated from Type II by the eyes which have a larger pupil and the iris is at 2:00,  by the feet which face outwards instead of forwards and some minor dimensional differences in the legs. Type III dolls are also 9" wide at the shoulders while Types I & II are 8" wide.

Type III 1962 Mondrich? Flip Dolls, B.C. & Hamilton

Here are some comparison pictures of all three Types of dolls.

Type I Hamilton, Type II Edmonton & Type III Hamilton

The box for Type I indicates that the dolls were 17 1/2" tall, but they are actually only 16" tall (all three Types, I believe). Also they are probably stuffed with different material because Type I dolls weigh 16 ounces, Type II dolls weigh 18 ounces, and Type III dolls weigh 24 ounces.

Type I Hamilton, Type II Edmonton & Type III Hamilton

At least one promotional doll is known, this one produced by Allied for Carling breweries which was involved with the CFL for many years. The doll is likely a lot rarer than the regular team dolls and looks to be a Type II.

Type II 1962? Allied Flip Promotional Doll and indeterminate (Type III eyes) fuzzy leg doll

Additionally there are some dolls that are purported to be CFL that have the fuzzy jersey material used for the legs instead of the canvas cloth. Above is a doll signed by Bud Grant and claimed to be Winnipeg, but without the cloth football emblem on the front (or evidence of a Canadian made tag) it can't be definitively classified as such. Therefore I have not identified the fuzzy leg dolls as a distinctive Type IV.

They (I have also seen one presented as Hamilton, without the football emblem) may just be versions of the generic dolls issued in the USA or they could represent the factories using up the last of their material at the end of a production run. Boxed and preferably tagged dolls would need to surface in order to confirm whether the fuzzy legged specimens are actually Canadian or not.

One thing is for sure, putting together a complete set of Flip, Your Personal Football Hero dolls of either mixed or identical Types would be a flipping formidable undertaking.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Upper Deck CFL e-pack : e-ssential? or e-relevant? (definitely e-xpensive)

Upper Deck 2018 CFL Box Front and Upper Deck CFL 2018 e-pack website image   

In 2018 Upper Deck issued their 5th set of CFL trading cards which marked the fulfillment of their original five year deal with the CFLPA to produce football cards for the league. As an added bonus (maybe, depending on your point of view) it was also the first year that CFL cards were part of Upper Deck's e-pack program.

For those unaware the e-pack framework is a well thought out and implemented digital card acquisition web application (no sign of the promised mobile apps that I could see) whose killer feature (from a collector's perspective) is that you can have all of the premium cards that you buy digitally, shipped to you physically. Additionally the folks at Upper Deck very wisely integrated purchase based incentives into the system to acquire multiple card types that are only available through e-pack.

2018 Upper Deck CFL numbered 200 base cards and four different parallel sets all available in physical boxes/packs as well as digitally online through the e-pack site.
2018 Base Cards (200) with Silver borders
2018 Red Parallel (200) with Red borders numbered to 150
2018 Gold Parallel (200) with Gold borders numbered to 50
2018 Purple Parallel (200) with Purple borders numbered to 15
2018 Blank Back Parallel (200) with Silver borders on front (not shown)

You cannot access any of the base cards that you buy digitally, and presumably as a collector you don't care because you are after the premium parallels, autographs, memorabilia and e-pack exclusive rarer cards. This then highlights the killer feature (from the manufacturer's perspective) in that you are actually buying product, of which some large majority percentage of the total cards bought, the seller does not have to deliver (or even produce?).

Also available in both physical boxes and digitally online were autograph parallels in two different scarcity groupings, with company checklists providing a different ratio than that printed on the box bottoms. The only way to get the Blue e-pack parallels was by digitally accumulating 5 copies of a regular base card which could then be exchanged for one blue card.
2018 Autograph Parallel Group A (9) with Black borders 1:267 packs (but box says 1:575)
2018 Autograph Parallel Group B (93) with Black borders 1:8 packs (but box says 1:16)
2018 e-pack Parallel (200) with Blue borders (not serially numbered) front & back shown

Now there are stated odds of each type of chase cards produced for every set, and I have read online that the cards that are opened digitally on e-pack were withheld from being physically distributed, thus maintaining the stated number of chase cards in the total population. But logistically speaking the speed with which the system "delivers" your digitally purchased cards indicates that the whole operation must be digital. How that would then be accurately accounted for and synched with a theoretical monumentally huge accumulation of non-packaged held back cards, is something of a questionable mystery.

Whether Upper Deck actually holds back cards or whether their product legalese related to the scarcity of particular chase cards fully allows them to add as many different sources of the same types of cards as their business interests deem prudent, I don't really know or care. I'm just trying to inform collectors of what was once (potentially) made available to collect.

Among the higher profile rare cards that were available on e-pack for completing defined achievements (ie; buying enough e-packs to get all cards of certain specified card groups) were the two Johnny Manziel SP0 cards. Too bad Manziel was such a monumental bust in the CFL.
2018 SP1 Johnny Manziel (1) with Silver border 1:320 packs 
2018 SP1 Johnny Manziel Autograph (1) with Black border ?:? packs
2018 e-pack SP0 Johnny Manziel (1) with Silver border (? issued unknown)
2018 e-pack SP0 Johnny Manziel Autograph (1) with Black border (5 for achievements)

So signing up for e-pack is simple and then the next step is to buy digital packs, boxes or cases (for the latter two there are very skimpy discounts).  As the packs are priced in US dollars I am pretty sure the cost is significantly more that buying the physical product. At least where I bought my boxes they were $105 CAD if I recall, and since I got them at a card show, no shipping charges. With the US $ exchange rate hovering near 1.35 at $91.99 per box that would translate to about $124 CAD. Many of the digital products have occasional sale pricing but I have not seen the CFL cards reduced as of yet.

One of the best things about e-pack is the capability to trade with other collectors. Most collectors specialize in certain teams or players or card types, so they generally have a lot of premium cards that they would rather exchange with others for their own specific wants. Once you have some cards (and they can be cards from the free pack a day of certain fringe card sets) you can examine others holdings and suggest trades, and they can do the same.

Memorabilia cards make up the remainder of the chase cards in the set, 
and there are definitely a lot of confusing groupings of these. Some players (like Charleston Hughes) that changed teams appear with their old team on some of the memorabilia cards, and not in his old uniform designated with his new team like on most of his cards
2018 Game Jersey (35) with Shield shaped swatch 1:10 packs
2018 Game Patch Parallel (35) with Shield shaped swatch numbered to 25 ?:? packs
2018 O-Pee-Chee Jumbo Jersey (17) with Jumbo shaped swatch 1:92 packs
2018 Game Jersey Autograph (10) with Shield shaped swatch 1:350 packs
2018 epack Game Patch Parallel Autograph (10) with Shield shaped swatch (? issued unknown)
2018 epack O-Pee-Chee Jumbo Jersey Parallel CP Patch (17) with Jumbo shaped swatch numbered to 2

Another approach is to look for sellers on ebay offering the e-pack exclusive cards and either buy them outright, or purchase them from their digital holdings. But be careful with the latter as the cards can be transferred to you for free, but you will need to pay the Upper Deck shipping costs to get them actually mailed to you, and while this is a small amount per card, it adds up quick.

Specially designed CFL Logo Patch cards are the last e-pack specific offering, featuring a few with the older league logo, and with the Montreal logos in French (new and old logos). These cards are all individual one of one's and you will find a few on ebay at very high asking prices. 
2018 epack CFL Logo Patch (33) with Logo shaped swatch numbered to 1

You can also transfer your cards to ComC which is a giant trading card sales agent conglomerate operating online and on ebay, and consign your cards for sale if you wish. While ComC may work out OK for sellers maybe, for buyers their shipping costs to Canada are outrageous, sometimes quoting near $25.00 CAD to ship one card! I guess what with all the dog sleds and igloos involved with delivering anything north of the border, you can't really blame them...

And finally we have the individual printing plates in all four offset CMYK printing colours (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) also segregated by those with the autograph and those without. 
These were made available as 16 different achievement awards on e-pack and as of this blog date eight of them had yet to be achieved by anybody.   
2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Cyan Autographed (103) 1 of each

2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Cyan (97) 1 of each
2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Magenta Autographed (103) 1 of each

2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Magenta (97) 1 of each
2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Yellow Autographed (103) 1 of each

2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Yellow (97) 1 of each
2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Black Autographed (103) 1 of each

2018 epack CFL Base Printing Plate Black (97) 1 of each

So what is the net effect of the e-pack program on the available CFL cards to collect? The physical product contained 1000 different versions of the base cards, 102 Autographs, 2 Manziel shortprints and 97 memorabilia cards for a grand total of 1201. The e-pack cards added 200 Blue versions of the base cards, 2 Manziel shortprints, 60 memorabilia cards and 800 printing plates for a grand total of 1062 additional distinct items to potentially collect.

But do you really need a sixth different version (Blue) of all of the same cards in the set? And almost all of the remaining 862 e-pack cards are short printed to 5 or less copies with 833 of those being singular 1/1 items, so only one person gets to acquire each card. In order to get any significant amount of these 862 rarities a person would have to spend a LOT of $$$ on e-pack (as some have), which from the manufacturer's perspective is of course the whole point of the platform. 

Upper Deck is returning with a 6th set of CFL cards in 2019, and we will soon know whether or not collectors will be blessed with more e-cards this time around. For some that will be good news and for others it may be re-diculous.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Union Rules Plot the History of the Game

While records are meant to be broken, rules are evidently meant to constantly evolve and to ultimately transform an adopted sport into something uniquely specific to Canada. When English immigrants began to play British sports, including rugby in Canada in the 1860's, inevitably local changes to the rules gradually crept in. This process resulted in three distinct games; Association Football (soccer), British Rugby and "rugby with local Canadian rules" or what eventually came to be called Canadian Football being established.

Initially the latter of these three sports, which was for decades interchangeably called just Rugby, Rugby Football or Canadian Football, was split among competing Unions with their own specific rules codifications (one of the first apparently being issued by the Canadian Rugby Football Union in the early 1880's).

The well known Spalding's sporting good company issued a large series of guides covering many sports over many years and most likely used the designation Canadian Football to differentiate the sport from the other popular Football games (for which they no doubt had separate volumes).

 Gradually as all of the unions were merged under the oversight of the Canadian Rugby Union the rules were standardized. The field diagram above is from the 1918 Ontario Rugby Football Union rules book and illustrates the standard size of 110 yards with two 25 yard endzones by 65 yards wide. These dimensions remained in force for around 100 years until facility limitations instigated a shortening of the endzones to 20 yards each, or less in some American stadiums in the nineties.

Once the majority of the unions were affiliated with the C.R.U. the standard rules and constitutions were issued during the twenties, thirties and forties in colorful booklets like those shown above. These yearly resources are the best historical source available for charting the history of all of the various (confusingly overlapping) organizations that governed the sport across Canada, and their constituent teams.

While these publications might not be considered the most compelling Canadian football collectibles, there is no denying their historical importance. Usually only one photograph was in each guide (N.J. "Piffles" Taylor of Taylor Field fame graced the 1946 edition) but many of these gentlemen were Hall of Fame member builders of the sport. The booklets also contain many very hard to find obscure trophy winners and championship team results. Where else could you find out that the Saskatoon Saskawins went to back to back Gillespie Trophy Western Junior championships, winning in 1922 but losing in 1923?

Several years ago the estate of Gord Walker (Hall of Fame football reporter who initiated proper statistical record keeping in the east in 1954 and was first president of the Football Reporters of Canada in 1958) was auctioned off on Ebay.  A lot of the material I am illustrating here came from Gord's meticulous collection, although the CFL Hall of Fame probably also has the majority of it in their archives. From roughly 1949 through to 1958 Spalding sponsored the official rule books in the updated format displayed above, sometimes with a nifty C.R.U. logo with a football, a beaver and a mystery shape.

Besides the standard rules volumes there were many other associated publications in different sizes and formats made available to help officials execute their duties on the playing fields. Some unions or organizations also published their own specific guides for many years as well during this era. Once again obscure historical information, such as the existence of the Sir Winston Churchill Trophy awarded to the Senior Intercollegiate Champions since 1953, can be ascertained from certain booklets by interested researchers.

In some cases rules for official versions of the game that no longer exist can be found, as well as rules on how to properly track the play result statistics of the games. The "Manual On Statistics" is distinct from the actual yearly statistical and official records compilations that comprise a different sub category of Publications and Ephemera related to Canadian Football.

Such was Jackie Parker's influence on the league in the 1950's that he is the only player known to have ever been featured on the rule book cover in 1959. Spalding also took the opportunity to feature him on their current sporting goods catalog in 1958-59 along with a hockey player who was just a generic drawing.

Also in 1959 the Canadian Football League finally gets a mention on the rule book cover. The league was technically constituted in 1958 but the reality is that the history of the individual franchises is intertwined with the history of the various unions and can be traced just about as far back as the earliest origins of the game!

Wilson Sporting Goods somehow managed to grab the sponsorship rights for at least one season in the early sixties but by 1962 through 1966 Spalding was back in their customary position on the guide covers. 1966 was also the final year where the old CRU results were included in the guide so it was your last chance to impress your friends at parties by relating that the old Ontario Fort William Redskins (of the Western Interprovincial Football Union!) lost the Intermediate final in 1953, 1955, 1956, & 1957 before finally winning it all in 1958 and that the poor Port Arthur Mustangs never even got a title game sniff.     

The booklet format changed again in 1967, the same year that the C.R.U. officially became the Canadian Amateur Football Association (subsequently branded as Football Canada in 1986). Presumably these rule books continued to be issued as separate publications until 1985, after which from 1986 forwards the rules were incorporated as a section of the CFL's Facts Figure and Records annual guides.

These fascinating relics are just another example that shows that you can approach collecting Canadian Football historical materials from many different angles that span almost 160 years of competition.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

End Of An Era - (Volume 2 Additions)

Recently over the last couple of years an enterprising Ebay seller has made available the physical media photo football remnants of a once thriving Montreal Newspaper's (La Presse) Sports department. The newspaper that was founded in 1884 printed its final edition on December 31st, 2017 transitioning to a fully digital/mobile publisher from that point onwards. As a result of this the old archives were deemed irrelevant and luckily this provided an infrequent opportunity for collectors to snap up the rare and evocative photos.

Now although Collecting Canadian Football Volume II documented for the first time ever the known media photo sets of the Montreal Alouettes, the information is far from complete and the La Presse archives have filled in some gaps in the knowledge quite nicely!

 Chester McCance & Virgil Wagner of the newly identified set:

Those of you that are familiar with CCF VII will know that almost all classic Alouette team photography was done by Ed Bermingham. Here we see that his involvement with the team started at least as far back as 1949 in this great photo set with the players wearing their nifty crotch-defining two-tone pants.

Sometimes additional mimeographed information sheets were attached to the photos with an exact date, other times there are photographer date stamps on the reverse and sometimes you need to derive a year for an item from the combination of player, uniform and photographer's stamp info. Having CCF VII provides a reference of how the photographer's stamps changed over the years to help with the dating process. Some but not all of these photographs featured the photographer's logo horizontally on the front margins.

The era that I am referencing as ending in the blog post title, is of course the old Newspaper paradigm of maintaining physical copies of images and even producing actual physical newsprint editions. The era of actually issuing physical media photos with one player per item by CFL teams already ended generally over 45 years ago in the early seventies, overtaken by the eight per sheet head photos from about 1975 to 2000 with some straggler individual sets still being produced up to the late eighties or early nineties maybe.

 Rod Pantages & Gordon Ross of the newly identified set:

In 1950 Bermingham was still using the same stamp with both black and violet inks. Some but not all of these photos featured the photographer's logo vertically on the front margins, although it is probably likely that both placements occur sporadically in both season's sets. Thankfully the team went to a one colour pant design for this year.

Of course newspapers have gone out of business periodically (The Ottawa Journal and the Winnipeg Tribune, for example) well before this transition to the digital world we are currently experiencing. When they did their archives were liquidated and much of that material also found its way into the hand of collectors but it does not often get recirculated so that modern day collectors can acquire parts of it.

 Tom Hugo & Ron Murphy of the newly identified set:

Here is another newly identified set, I believe the photographer's stamp (which was obscured on the reverse scans) is the version shown below. The Hugo photo illustrates an important point in that sometimes a date stamped on the reverse of a photo could mean when a certain department received it for use and is not necessarily related to when the photo was actually produced. Hugo's last year with the Alouettes was 1959 so he was long gone by 1965.

The photos in the La Presse archives were naturally predominantly of Montreal players but there were also many photos from players of the other eight CFL teams. Newspapers would be sent images of players from other cities' teams regularly so that they could use them in their sports pages stories as well. In addition to the newly identified sets there were plenty of additions to sets already listed in the existing guide that will need to be updated at some point.

 Bob Bednarz & Hal Lewis
1967 Bermingham photos

This particular set of 5 X 7 portrait photos utilized the year dated stamps below, again in two different ink colours. But the uniforms are definitely not Montreal Alouettes and that is because these were media photos for the Montreal Beavers of the Continental Football League. While these photos will not be catalogued in any potential further update to CCF VII (because they are not Canadian Football) they do help solidify the timeline as to which Bermingham stamps were active during which periods for the photos.

It is somewhat ironic that La Presse was responsible for the first known team specific Montreal football themed collectible in 1928 (Clary Foran of the Montreal Athletic Association). And now 91 years later the dissolution of the paper's archives has enriched the amount of information about Montreal football history considerably.

 Peter Paquette & Barry Randall of the newly identified set:

The final newly identified set is one of the classic late sixties CFL photo sets with the combined head and action photo along with a write-up and team logo graphic. All photo sets illustrated in this post except the Montreal Beavers portraits are 8" X 10" in size.

The appearance of these previously uncatalogued vintage photo sets into the collectible marketplace is just another example of how there is always more new/old stuff to discover with Canadian football collectibles.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Sicks' Degrees of Soda Separation

This month I am going to be tracing a connective path primarily between players who have appeared on soft drink sponsored memorabilia, some of which has been catalogued already (mainly in Collecting Canadian Football Volume 2) and some of which has not. 

Calgary Stampeder 1958 game program advertisement &
Lynn Bottoms 1958 The "master touch" printed illustration
- plain paper variant and newsprint image from microfilm

This obscure issue from 1958 was previously catalogued although of the images seen here only the plain paper variant of Lynn Bottoms was illustrated in the guide. The player facial drawings used on the actual promotion were also advertised in 3 of that season's game programs, with eight different players in each ad, for Lethbridge Dry Ginger Ale produced by Sicks' Lethbridge Brewery.

Lynn Bottoms was a Calgary native who played with the Stampeders from 1954 into 1960 when he was traded to the Toronto Argonauts. He subsequently appeared as an Argonaut in the 1962 Topps panel set except since it was Topps with their craptacular non-attention to detail, his picture on the card is from training camp in Nelson B.C. with the Stampeders from 1956.

1962 Toronto Argonauts Topps Panel &
1959 Dick Fouts Toronto Argonauts 7-UP Photograph Issue
1958 Dick Shatto Toronto Argonauts 7-UP Photograph Issue

Lynn was paired (on one of the panels he appears on) with Argonaut Dick Fouts, who luckily fits our narrative by virtue of appearing on a 7-up sponsored photo set from 1959. The crappy condition of the item illustrated should give you a clue as to how hard this issue is to come by. 

Fout's teammate, Argo's star player of the era Dick Shatto, also appeared on a 7-up sponsored photo set from 1958. Both of these photo sets (what little is known about them) are also catalogued in CCF V2. While we are on the subject of 7-up, illustrated below is an even earlier ornately framed advertising piece related to football issued by the Canadian branch of the beverage manufacturer.

1953 7-up football themed advertising sign 

Returning to Dick Shatto he was one of the many American imports at the time who took advantage of the fact that Canadian football teams practiced in the evenings, allowing for the player to run a business or hold a full-time job at the same time. Shatto eventually became an executive with Canada Dry and in either 1961 or 1962 he authored a booklet called FOOTBALL FUNdamentals sponsored by the company.

Early 1960's Canada Dry Dick Shatto Booklet - two different versions

There were apparently two versions of the booklet published. One with a sticker on the front cover containing quotes of support for the book by ex-Alouettes quarterbacking great Sam Etcheverry (with the NFL Cardinals by this time) and Eskimo quarterbacking great Jackie Parker. The other with pictures of the two all-stars and the same quotes but printed as part of the front cover. Shatto's son is the child on the cover.

The two great one-time on-field rivals; Etcheverry and Parker did more than just lend their endorsements for the book, they got together to help Shatto illustrate proper techniques and drill exercises as shown in the photos within the guide. Also participating were other members of the Argonauts such as Danny Nykoluk.


Early 1960's Canada Dry Dick Shatto Booklet - internal pages

But the real killer memorabilia piece related to the Canada Dry Shatto publication is this recently discovered large store advertising poster with superb period graphics and reference to all three CFL superstars. A request form is also referenced, which may possibly have also had some graphics or a reproduction of the book on it. The poster would have been intended for point of sale display at convenience and grocery stores selling Canada Dry products.

Early 1960's Canada Dry Promotional Point of Sale Poster

Now the Eskimos also issued 3 sets of Canada Dry sponsored game program insert photos from 1964 - 1966 but Jackie Parker had been traded to the Argos (where he spent three seasons as a teammate of Dick Shatto) by that time. He did however appear in the Eskimo CFRN 1962 program insert issue along with Howie Schumm (this particular intact panel pair was one of the last two to have been identified for this set, the other pair not listed in the catalogue being Toby Deese and Ted Tully).

1962 Edmonton Eskimos CFRN/A&W Intact Panel

Howie Schumm subsequently appeared in all three of the Eskimo mid sixties Canada Dry issues. Incidentally the 1964 issue listing in the CCF V2 catalogue contains an error, a Roger Nelson insert exists and the Bruce Claridge insert noted in the listings almost certainly does not. Thanks to Mike Smith-Knutsen for the Schumm scan below and the information on the Nelson insert.   

1964 Edmonton Eskimos Canada Dry Program Insert Issue &
1965 Edmonton Eskimos Canada Dry Program Insert Page Advertisement

So there you have it, from Lynn Bottoms to Dick Fouts, linked via Shatto, Etcheverry & Parker (three of the biggest superstars of Canadian football history) and finally to Howie Schumm.  Forwards and backwards through time, with the common thread of soda pop sponsored memorabilia of some sort, much of which is damn near impossible to obtain. But that's what makes collecting this material (and even just the information about this material) such an interesting challenge.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

WTF? - Head Scratching Canadian Football Collectibles

There is no shortage of weird and sometimes wonderful Canadian football collectibles that run the gamut from "somewhat unusual" to "what possible reason was there to produce this?". This blog post will examine a random selection of these curious items.

First up are two circa 1910 Queen's University Rugby-Football postcards (as seen on ebay, obviously). What struck me as somewhat unusual (or at least unique with regards to Canadian football) about the card on the left was the Gaelic chorus of the School song called "Queen's College Colours", which translates to "The college of the wife of the King forever" and ending three times with the Gaelic war-cry "No Surrender". Apparently still sung after every Queen's touchdown today. Also notable is the incredible bruising menace exuded by the cherubic Queen's student athlete ...  shudder.  

The above two cloth patches designed to be sewn onto a garment were discovered with a group of other, definitely CFL, memorabilia and look to be of late 1940's vintage. The very curious thing about the patch on the right is the inclusion of the American flag along with what looks like some version of the pre-1965 Canadian (or maybe Ontario?) flag and the Big-Four notation.

But the Big-Four (or Eastern I.R.F.U. Interprovincial Rugby Football Union) never had anything to do with American teams so that is pretty weird. It occurred to me that the left patch resembled something I had seen on an old O.R.F.U. (Eastern Ontario Rugby Football Union) program, and the O.R.F.U. did have some American teams, but not during this time period. 

So the tilted ball and the Indian head logo are reminiscent of the team patch, but not particularly conclusive. The Toronto Indians began play in the O.R.F.U as the Toronto Oakwood (a Toronto neighborhood) Indians in 1941 & 1942, dropped the Oakwood from 1943 to 1947, merged with Toronto Balmy Beach to form Toronto Beaches-Indians in 1948 and then Beaches reverted to Toronto Balmy Beach in 1949. So maybe that was the end of the Indians, or maybe not.

About that same time period we have an amateur program from the Canadian American Football League of 1949, and I have never seen anything else regarding this league anywhere (some things are not even discernible with google!). Is it possible that the remnants of the Indians actually continued play as an amateur team in this cross border league? That would fit the patches above and the dual flag motif, but where would the Big-Four fit into that scenario? Its a mystery.     

Well there isn't anything that I can think of that does not absolutely scream the B.C. Lions Football Club more so than "Chimp The Musical Mascot" wind-up symbol crashing monkey. Era? : Late 1950's probably - Why? : unanswerable.  If you've seen Toy Story 3 you know that these monkey toys were generally seen as malevolent although this fellow looks a lot friendlier in person than the monkey on the box. His body is also a fair bit more gopher like than actual monkey, but so long as he's a Lions fan I guess that's OK.

Some enterprising Prince George civic businessmen probably decided to commemorate the 1958 Grey Cup Parade with these wood token dollars even though the parade and the game were held over 300 miles away in Vancouver. Apparently there is so much excess white spruce there that wooden trade dollars were made in many different years with different themes. Be careful not to trip and fall into that Rocky Mountain Trench though. If anything it showed the nation wide scope of the game in those days, the excitement wasn't just limited to the big cities that had the franchises.

Now here is something unique that most dedicated Ti-Cat fans would probably want to have in their collection. The Shittley Award was an (obviously) unofficial player award given to the team's biggest Shit beginning in 1958 and running for at least 6 years after that. The award was an enameled chamber pot with the winner getting his own version (with his nicknames on the reverse side) for the specific year, plus a handled version that recorded the annual winners for posterity.

While this was a joke for the players in the Tiger-Cat locker room during an era when they dominated the Eastern Division, this type of one of a kind memorabilia with direct provenance to the players themselves is not something you can come across every day. And keep in mind that four of the six biggest Shits were actually Hall of Fame caliber Shits too. Delightful.       

CHUM was a Top 40 radio station in Toronto (still exists today) and like many radio stations they printed a weekly folding pamphlet with a theme on the cover and the Top 40 songs and other advertisements on the insides and back cover. For some reason in September 1965 they were very concerned with what looked like a potential purchase of the Argos by a new owner, whom they do not identify but presumably he was something of a tightwad to have been branded Scrooge.

The item on the left came up on ebay but there is not one shred of information on the rest of the pamphlet panels about why this is on the cover. A little research led me to a site replicating all of the CHUM pamphlets where it became evident that there were a number of them with a CFL theme (Dave Johnson was a station DJ, not a football player). Now a quick glance at some of my reference material did not uncover any attempted or completed purchase of the Argos during this time period (John Bassett Sr. being the owner) so what these were all about is anybody's guess. Cool though.

One of the best known "WTF" items produced for the CFL was the Wilkinson Sword commemorative CFL actual plated steel sword, issued in the early 1970's. Why an English Sword manufacturer (who admittedly were in the habit of making special commemorative swords) was chosen to create a precision crafted, serial numbered ceremonial weapon with the CFL franchise logos engraved upon it for the league, is something of an enigma.

It is believed that somewhere around 300 of the swords were made, and I had heard that perhaps Calgary's GM Rogers Lehew had a hand in getting the project executed (although I can't confirm that). In any case the swords are scarce, make an impressive centerpiece of an advanced CFL collection and are very pricey these days. I don't know what they cost when issued but if you care to drop over $2,500 Canadian the one pictured above is on ebay right now.  .   

When it comes to the CFL bookshelf the books shown are definitely two of the more unconventional volumes chronicling the game. Laverne Barnes was the wife of B.C. Lion Emery Barnes and her fairly well known book was an expose of the league revolving around the sex, drugs and violence that surrounded the players primarily in the sixties, I believe. The book is fairly easy to acquire although there are a number of different formats and covers (first issued in 1971) and the paperback shown above is probably one of the rarer versions.

The ominously titled Game-Day Gangsters is much more recent from 2014 and discusses the aspects of organized violence in football as well as hazing and performance enhancing drugs. It is actually available as a free PDF download too. As I have read neither of these books I can't assess their contents but they certainly address the sport from a different perspective than most authors.

Now here was an absolutely fabulous idea from 1986 : Fan - A - Grams. Why cheer or curse in the stands during a game when you could instead hold up one of these nifty signs that said it all for you? All New and officially sanctioned by the league too! how could this not be a fantastic success.

Well, I guess based on the fact that this item is about as rare as any I have ever seen from the decade of the 1980's, it probably was somewhat underwhelming in the sales department. Presumably the most common people holding up the expletive sign shown bottom right were whoever put up the money to print this turd product.

Finally with the league currently pursuing a 2.0 strategy that would see partnerships with obscure (American) football leagues in countries other than the United States, this last pair of item seems somewhat prophetic now. Who knew that in 1989 the Regina Rams Junior team were already participating in the first (& only?) Eurocanbowl against the German Champions of the European Football League. A very low resolution image of a postcard featuring the members of both teams wraps up this post.