Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Random Cool New/Old Collectibles From the East

Four posts ago I covered 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. This month I am showcasing the same for the Eastern CFL teams.


Star Weekly comics section Toronto Argonauts Popsicle ad from June 24, 1954

First up is an unusual and rare advertising panel within the weekly comics supplement featuring Argonauts star Quarterback Norbert "Nobby" Wirkowsky promoting Popsicle products. Nobby had led the Argonauts to the 1952 Grey Cup championship and played ten seasons in the CFL for Toronto, Hamilton and Calgary. In addition to playing Wirkowski was involved in coaching at the high school, university and professional levels in Canada for almost 40 years and passed away in Mississauga in 2014.

Ephemera featuring CFL players as contracted advertising spokesmen for products is exceedingly rare (perhaps with the notable exception of content within game programs) but the profile of the Argonauts in mid 20th Century Toronto was definitely an order of magnitude different than the present day. Naturally newspaper inserts from this time period are not going to have survived very frequently so this is a piece you will not encounter anytime soon. 


Early-60's Ottawa Rough Rider Glass  

Next up is a fabulous and rare clear drinking glass featuring the Ottawa Rough Riders logo on one side and their star Quarterback Russ Jackson with facsimile autograph on the other. There is no information on the glass as to the issuer or product manufacturer but it may have been filled with something like a jam or a jelly as this was fairly common in those days. Whether or not this was a single and Jackson was the only player featured or there were more players available is unknown.

Exact year of issue is also unknown but that is a young looking Russ Jackson and the visible uniform profile looks to be a close match to the team's dark jerseys from just post 1960. Thanks to super collector John Henderson for allowing me to photograph this item, unfortunately the Jackson side photo came out a little blurrier than the real life image.     


Carling O'Keefe 1983 Montreal Concordes Roster Card

The Montreal item is from the brief era of the Concordes after they had replaced the defunct Alouettes in the early eighties. This roster card (paper stock thickness is unconfirmed, but I believe this to be on card stock) highlights all of the team's coaches and players in jersey numerical order for the start of the 1983 season. The back of the card lists each player with relevant personal stats and positional depth chart.

This item was part of a promotional package for the start of the franchise's second season along with a sticker, pinbacks, media guide, season ticket brochure and several other bits and pieces. Because it was issued at the very start of the season it may actually feature the 1982 roster and coaches. The two most notable coaches were Head Coach Joe Galat and Assistant Coach Ardell Wiegandt (fresh from  running a very competitive Stampeder team assembled by Jack Gotta in the late seventies into the ground in two years).

The roster is a mixed bag of league castoffs but several stalwarts from the Alouette's glory days in the seventies remain, including Dickie Harris, Gordon Judges, Don Sweet & Glen Weir.


CHML 900 Mid-80's Hamilton Tiger Cats wood plaque 

This very attractive team retrospective of the Tiger-Cats was issued probably sometime in the mid eighties and features a collage of great team players from the past and likely also the present (at the time of issue). The illustration is affixed to a wood base and this particular item was numbered 68/300 so it was a limited edition. 

CHML started (or possibly re-started) broadcasting Tiger-Cat games in 1984 and for the most part I would say that those pictured were primarily former players from earlier decades (although Henry Waszczuk and Ben Zambiasi at top left were active around this time). Superstars of Hamilton and CFL football history like Bernie Faloney, Angelo Mosca, Hal Patterson, John Barrow, Garney Henley, Cookie Gilchrist, Tony Gabriel and many, many more are all depicted.

I'm guessing that the autographs (Bob Hooper was a football reporter, John Salavantis an assistant coach and Bob Bratina was a long serving play by play man and future Hamilton mayor) are real and not part of the illustration. Possibly added some years after issue. Either way a great item for a Ti-Cat fan.


1995 First National Bank Baltimore Stallions team picture card

Moving on to the most famous eastern representative of the mid nineties U.S. expansion teams we have (again probably on thin card stock) n uncatalogued team picture printed after the Stallions had won the 1995 Southern Division title. It is not clear if this referred to them finishing atop the division in regular season play or winning the playoffs and qualifying for the 1995 Grey Cup. But logically it would have been issued sometime before they actually won the Grey Cup.


Old Port 1978 League Schedule outside

Finally to round things out, an interesting group of ephemera that was issued in 1978 by Old Port. Old Port were wine flavoured small cigars where the flavour was infused into the plastic tips of each cigar. These were quite popular back in the seventies for teenagers learning how to smoke as a bit of a change of pace from cigarettes, the tips had a very appealing taste but of course the cigar smoke was pretty acrid. Anyway, they were regular sponsors of the league in that decade with numerous full page ads in game programs.

Until a recent Ebay auction came up, I was unaware that they also sponsored a Grey Cup quiz game with questions and answers printed on "One of a Series" of small cards.   

Old Port 1978 Grey Cup Quizzer Cards - English and French examples

The cards look to have been in English on one side and in French on the other although I don't have images of the same card both sides and the two cards shown above are not the same questions and answers. There are at least four different cards in the set, possibly more.

While the cards are not dated the fact they were included in the auction lot with the 1978 schedule makes it the most probable year of issue (although not 100% positively established). Distribution is unknown but the most likely method was one card in each pack of cigars. Another great example of oddball Canadian football collectibles surfacing in a different century than the one they were produced in.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Membership Has Its Privileges

One interesting area of Canadian football ephemera collecting is membership cards, many types of which were issued by all teams in some format or another. For unknown reasons it seems that the B.C. Lions might have issued the most in varying numbers and types as these seem to be a lot more prevalent than from some of the other teams. 

1954 Booster Club Card & 1955 Booster Club Card

The card at left corresponds with the first franchise year of the B.C. Lions. Initially most of the  benefits of membership in a booster club were more geared towards providing support for the team as they tried to establish themselves in the league. The 1955 edition is just the same card with the year blacked out and the new year stamped on. The differences in colour are probably partial age wear and partial scanning intensity discrepancies.

1956 Quarterback Club Card

Woodward's played an active part in promoting the Lions almost from the very start of their existence. The Quarterback Club was only open to children under 17 years of age. Special rallies were held during the season and tickets were available for purchase at a discounted rate. Holes were punched along the edges of the card for the relevant game once the tickets were bought.

1958 W.I.F.U. Football Club Card & 1959 Lions Touchdown Club Card

Adults could still support the club via membership which came with its own card and some sort of privileges as noted on the card front. These cards are known for other seasons as well. There also existed the Touchdown Club which sponsored their own periodic meetings and presumably also came with some sort of benefits. Unless some membership application forms from this era can be located exactly what the members received for their membership fees will probably remain a mystery.

1960 Quarterback Club Card & 1962 Quarterback Club Cloth Crest

Woodward's continued to sponsor the Quarterback Club for many seasons and the card design changed from time to time. The best part of becoming a member was the annual cloth crest you could sew onto your jacket. These beautiful crests actually deserve a blog post of their own, they are among the most varied, attractive and desirable Novelties & Souvenirs category of memorabilia items from the golden era of the CFL that exist for any team.

1963 Quarterback Club Season Schedule

Besides the crests a few other bits and pieces of memorabilia associated with these club memberships were produced.  The schedule above used the same design as the actual 1963 cloth crest and the super rare window decal below perhaps provided some sort of VIP parking access at Empire Stadium.

1964 Touchdown Club Decal

Designs of the Woodward's Quarterback Club cards kept evolving, some featuring bright renditions of the various Lion's logos over the years. During the 1959 and 1960 seasons Woodward's also issued some of the rarest B.C. Lions team card variants with their logo (available for pickup, probably for free. when purchasing your Quarterback Club membership). These extremely rare items are catalogued in Collecting Canadian Football Volume II. 

1966 Quarterback Club Card

1967 Quarterback Club Card

The Quarterback Club's final season was 1968 (sponsored by McDonald's) but probably soon after, fans were granted all sorts of privileges to make themselves heard via another membership card idea floated by the team.

Late 1960's Lions Right To Roar Card

Being a member of the Press brigade whether for newspaper, radio or TV was another sort of membership, which overlaps with a different sub category of ephemera, but it seemed to fit into the general theme of this blog so I have included one below.

1970 B.C. Lions Press Pass & 1978 B.C. Lions Football Club Card

Eventually membership cards came to be printed as part of the season's ticket sheets. Besides the tickets presumably there were other perks so the holders had to sign their cards. Various changes were implemented to the cards from year to year and by 1989 the original holder of these memberships had attained Sustaining Life Member status, whatever that meant.

1983 Season Ticket Identification Card & 1989 Sustaining Life Member Card

VIP cards of one sort or another were also produced in the eighties providing special access to food and beverage areas limited to members only. Stuke was of course famed former Argonaut player and executive / first coach of the Lions from 1953-55 who was instrumental in getting the franchise off the ground.  

1984 Pre-Game Lounge Pass & 1987 Stuke's Den Card

The supply of BC Lions membership cards that I have come across seems to peter out in the nineties but they were likely produced on paper for most of that decade, and subsequently probably moved to a plastic version sometime in this century. Since any modern cards are not really vintage and those accumulating in drawers in the lower mainland are probably going to remain there for some years to come it may be a while before they start to surface as collectibles.

Thanks to Vic Dougan, John Wirtanen and Keith Watson (all present or former B.C. Lions super collectors) for many of the images used in this blog post.

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.