Saturday, 28 February 2015

Where is Volume Three ???

As readers of Collecting Canadian Football Volumes 1 & 2 will know the planned third volume in the series intends to cover Novelties & Souvenirs that are not player specific (although a few player themed items will make their way into the volume for reasons that will be self-evident). I have included a few sample page images here to show what you can eventually expect.

Volume three is under development but is still a fair ways from completion. One of the issues faced for this group of collectibles is that just a chronological listing of every type of item ever produced within the major categorization level of 2 - Novelties and Souvenirs, would result in an overwhelmingly confusing jumbled mishmash of things and would make the guide extremely difficult to use for the collector interested in particular types of items.

But the mid level categorization level was a little too specific to use as sorting criteria because then items that have somewhat of a logical relationship to each other would have found themselves at
opposite ends of the book (eg. Bobbleheads versus Nodders or Decals versus Stickers).

Therefore it was decided to devise an intermediate level of items that logically fits between the major and the mid categories and groups things in a way that would make sense to most collectors. This intermediate level will be called the Macro level of categorization. So you will find the item listings alphabetically in this macro order, thereby allowing for the Bobblehead, Nodders & similar Ceramic Figures to be grouped together, or the Puzzles be listed with the Games, and so forth.

Currently the Macro divisions are as follows (the + indicating "and related items") :

  • Bobbleheads+
  • Cloth Crests+
  • Coins+
  • Games+
  • Glassware+
  • Pennants+
  • Pinbacks+
  • Pins+
  • Stickers+
  • Tableware+

That's ten macro categories with the remaining items that don't fit into any of those groups representing an eleventh large group of items to process. So far I have completed the Games+ section (about 55 pages worth), the Pennants+ section (about 40 pages worth) and am just about done the Coins+ section (about 15 pages worth). So as you can see three major sections out of eleven means the volume is still less than a third complete, although the games and pennants were two of the more difficult and time consuming sections to complete. Long way to go...

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A little French Canadian history - (Volume 2 Addition)

The city of Montreal became dominated by English business and political interests in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the percentage of English to French population varied over time but there were aspects of city life where the French Canadian residents and business people tried to ensure that they were not treated like second class citizens in the largest city of their own province.

The Dupuis family were pacesetters this respect and their store "Dupuis Frères" (Dupuis Brothers) which was originally founded in 1868 grew to become the largest and most popular French Canadian department store in the city. In fact it was one of the largest stores in Montreal period and had established a huge mail order business that spanned francophone customers across the nation. But by the fifties the store's golden age was over and strikes and poor sales were leading to the eventual closure of the business in 1971. There are several excellent websites that highlight the company history including this one.

So what does all of this have to do with Canadian football?  Well, while nobody would ever dispute that the number one sports team in the hearts of French Canadians was the Montreal Canadians one would imagine that there must have been reasonable interest in the French community in the highly successful Montreal Alouettes of the mid-fifties as well. Even if the Als did cater more to the English segment of the population of Montreal at that time.

We know this because shortly after Volume 2 went to press a Dupuis Frères sponsored set of sepia coloured printed pictures (about 5" x 7") of several Alouettes surfaced from 1957. I haven't been able to dig up any definitive information about the promotion but it would seem pretty likely that the store had the items printed up and the players would have attended at store appearances to autograph the pictures. So far only five items are confirmed.

Besides the four pictured players a Tom Hugo picture also exists.

The images used on the pictures are a  mix of those used on the 1954 Blue Ribbon issue and the 1956 Parkhurst issue as you can see by looking at those cards below.

The fact that the Alouettes were at their peak popularity during this era in '54, '55 and '56 with their three consecutive Grey Cup appearances, and that the issue is specifically identified as "57" would lead one to believe that probably the promotion was also run in other years and more so far uncatalogued sets might still be out there. Thanks to football super collector Carl Lamendola for some of the pictures and information about this set.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Football in Canada ... But Not Canadian Football

Football in Canada is intertwined with football in the United States in a manner that might be unique in the history of world sport when one considers two countries that play what is nearly the same game that initially developed more or less independently in both nations. Throughout the last century influences from the much larger American football industry as well as a majority of the most significant players in CFL history came out of the United States into Canada.

But cross border overlaps between the sports, leagues, teams and players encompass much forgotten football history besides that which most football fans are aware of, namely the CFL's failed expansion into the United States in the mid nineties and the less than hugely successful (despite the hype) series of games played by the Buffalo Bills in Toronto recently.

For a few years during the sixties a rival league to the CFL operated in three Canadian cities but the Continental Football League, which struggled to shake its semi-pro image over its five year (1965 - 1969) lifespan, of course played American football and not Canadian football.

The Toronto Rifles franchise lasted for three seasons from 1965-1967 and they even competed in the league's inaugural championship game losing 24-7 to the Charlston (West Virginia) Rockets in 1965.
The Montreal Beavers franchise lasted for two seasons from 1966-1967 and the Victoria Steelers played in just 1967 but after a mid-season managerial shakeup the franchise changed their name to the Victoria Tyees.

The ties between the CFL and the Continental League are numerous and when you consider that Tom Wilkinson (Toronto Rifles) and Don Jonas (Orlando Panthers) played in the league one's opinion of what the calibre of play was like might need to be adjusted upwards. Leo Cahill is shown laying out the coaching strategy for the Rifles in the program below on the right. Numerous other coaches and players would also operate in both leagues.

There are no known trading cards for any of the teams but team pictures and game programs and various ephemera such as game tickets were produced. I had decided not to include any of this material in Volume 2 or any subsequent volumes of Collecting Canadian Football for the simple reason that they did not play Canadian football. However that does not mean that it is not a fascinating aspect of football history in Canada and that collecting the available material is not challenging and interesting.

The above team picture is of the 1967 Montreal Beavers courtesy of photographer Ed Bermingham, who readers of Collecting Canadian Football Volume 2 will know as the long time team photographer for the Montreal Alouettes. Also pictured is a Toronto Rifles away ticket.

The above left program shows Baseball superstar Jackie Robinson who was the General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers franchise and he was honoured in Montreal at the game. Robinson of course had played minor league baseball for the Montreal Royals of the International League before breaking the colour barrier in the majors and he was intensely popular in Montreal. Lesser known is that he also excelled at football in the Pacific Coast Professional Football League before the war where he played with and against numerous players who would end up in Canada such as Sugarfoot Anderson and Woody Strode (another forgotten league whose calibre of play was probably higher than it is credited with). This program recently sold on ebay for $300 because of the Robinson factor.

The other program shows that the Toronto Rifles were probably the relocated Quebec Rifles of the 1964 United Football league, another briefly cross border experiment and the rival coaches Sam Etcheverry and Bob Snyder on the cover makes it clear there were many links with the CFL in that league as well.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Fakes, Fabrications & Forgeries

When it comes to what is a "Legitimate" piece of memorabilia the answer might be different depending on a lot of different factors. Generally speaking in the sportscard and memorabilia industry, legitimate means a licensed issue from a manufacturer legally entitled to create the item by virtue of contractual agreements with the league and probably with the players association, or the retired players in cases where the players association no longer represents the athlete.

But formal licensing was only established in an organized fashion in the CFL from the latter sixties, influenced by the successful NFL merchandising model, and that leaves a couple of decades prior to that where almost all items that were created would normally be considered legitimate even if not officially sanctioned. Topps & OPC trading cards were licensed but many other collectibles from the fifties and sixties may not have been, or were team issued or team initiated without any formal agreements.

Of course it was very difficult prior to the development of desktop publishing capabilities in the last two decades of the twentieth century to create physical memorabilia items with text and graphics, especially in colour. As the personal computer capabilities for anybody to graphically design anything became commonplace we start to see enterprising individuals making their own collectibles and often marketing them in small scale on ebay or through their own sites.

I generally will not include these types of items in the catalogues but it doesn't hurt to have a look at some of them that I am aware of here in the blog.


Usually these are of older retired athletes and while it is normally pretty easy to spot that they are not from the era when the player was active, it may not always be completely obvious to novice collectors.

These fake buttons have 'borrowed" their images from licensed cards of the various eras:

Warren Moon - 1981 Eskimos Red Rooster, Joe Theismann - 1971 OPC,
Wayne Harris - 1968 OPC, Jeff Garcia - 1996 Jogo

The first two of these fake cards with the added bonus of random small denomination coins inserted into the cards are copyrighted with all rights reserved, however the chances that the athletes were paid for the use of their images is probably zero. Why 1967 would have anything to do with Sam Etcheverry as a player is a mystery.

The last card (if memory serves because I lost the back scan) is a limited edition of 50! So you better hurry up and get one as they will likely skyrocket in value soon. The back also referenced Moon's performance when he played for Winnipeg, so apparently fakers don't bother to study up the subject matter very well.


These are more along the line of fantasy cards that the creator apparently wished had existed as parts of real trading card sets.

First up we have three different colour variations (green is also available) of imaginary card number 89 in the 88 card 1958 Topps CFL set. This is a well executed card complete with Topps copyright notice, but the uniform is wrong for the year and the autographs are of course current. I doubt that rubbing a coin on the space would produce an image.

Next we have a mythical Don Maynard card as number 89 in the 88 card 1959 Topps CFL set. This is also a well executed card complete with the Topps copyright notice and it wouldn't surprise me to find out that the stats were real (but I have not verified it). But the uniform is airbrushed and is wrong because the Tiger-Cats were not wearing the striped sleeves jerseys in 1959, the only year Maynard was in the CFL. Maynard would of course go on to greatness with the N.Y. Jets and is one of many, many players who starred in the US professional leagues but also spent some time in Canada.

Here are two cards of George Reed in what would have been his rookie season of 1963, they are both numbered 94 (the card backs are the same) in the 88 card 1963 Topps CFL set. In this case it looks like there is an image that would appear if you were to place the red cellophane on the card back.

Finally here is an unreal Carl Weathers card as number 133 in the 132 card 1972 OPC CFL set. Carl became very popular after appearing in the Rocky movies as Apollo Creed and I believe this was probably one of the first of these types of cards produced. The image is taken from the 1972 Lions Royal Bank set and at least this creator copyrighted the card to B.O.B which one would assume was his first name.


Generally don't exist to my knowledge because to forge an existing physical item convincingly takes a lot skill and effort (even with today's tools) and the vast majority of CFL cards do not have anywhere near the value that would make it worthwhile for somebody to do that. However be aware that unethical actions taken to increase a card's value (trimming, cleaning, pressing, etc.) can certainly be encountered for the high value cards in the CFL hobby that warrant it.

I'll probably revisit this topic in a future post to highlight more faked or fabricated items.        

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Spot the Burton - (Volume 1 update)

When Volume I of Collecting Canadian Football was published CFL collectors finally had an answer to one of the enduring mysteries of the hobby - How many complete panels make up the 1962 Topps CFL issue? As explained in detail in the guide the final number of 192 panels was determined by careful examination of a complete uncut printing sheet of 132 panels as well as informed interpolation of what the second printing sheet of 132 panels must have looked like.

The number was pretty firm but since 4 of the proposed 192 panels had not been visually confirmed the listings left open the possibility that the number might need adjusting. However soon after publication some advanced collectors with large panel collections confirmed that the four presumed panels did indeed exist and they further confirmed that they had no other panels than what were listed in the guide. But one such collector pointed out that he kept 193 panels in his set as the Mack Burton card #4 has a prominent white spot printers defect on most cards, but not all, so that cards with and without the spot make up a variation, both for the card itself and for the panels.

Card #4 - No Spot
Panel # 4 /5 - No Spot
Well after having investigated this it appears that for whatever reason the spot defect tended to migrate on the Burton card depending on where he appeared on the two print sheets. So in fact while Burton appears on the two sheets 6 times, it looks like he appears just once without the spot, and five times with the spot, but having the spot in slightly different positions on the cards. I don't have high enough resolution scans of each of the Burton cards in situ on the sheets to be absolutely sure which variation sits where, but here are the so far identified spot variations on a card or panel basis.

Panel # 4 / 5 - Spot bisected by picture frame

Card #4 - Spot in tree, does not touch stadium infrastructure
Card #4 - Spot in tree, does touch stadium infrastructure
Card #4 - Spot near leg
So as you can see an obsessive compulsive cataloguer might write this up in the update as one regular card #4 with 4 or 5 spot variations, the exact number having yet to be determined. This would mean the [XP] designation for the Burton card will come off and in fact each particular variation might stand as the scarcest [SP] in the set. The effect on the different panel combinations that Burton exists on will hopefully also be fleshed out.

And finally, Burton sure looks like he's wearing a Tiger-Cat uniform in this picture but is not listed as such in the guide since I hadn't confirmed if he was in the Tiger-Cat camp in 1961 or early 1962 prior to coming to the Lions.


Monday, 9 February 2015

Men - will be interested in these things

In the fifties in Canada it was a sure bet that men would find Goodyear tires and football intensely interesting, so why not issue a magazine that communicated the benefits of the company's tire products along with information about notable football personalities of the day, and call that magazine "Goodyear's Magazine For Men"!

Here is an early issue from 1952 with a cover featuring Glenn Dobbs, ex of the AAFC and adopted superstar of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the early fifties. What looks like an illustration must have been drawn from a photo credited to Turofsky, the famous Toronto photography studio (who will no doubt feature in a future post here).

The cover illustration was accompanied with a story inside the magazine and lots of good tire information throughout. This item was sold last year on ebay for around $30 if memory serves which is a ridiculously low price for a vintage colour early fifties CFL memorabilia.

Here is another issue of the magazine, still fifties but uncertain of the year, of JP (John) Metras, famed Canadian university football coach of the Western Ontario Mustangs. At least he was famed in the fifties when Canadian university ball was closely followed and drew large crowds to games in the eastern part of the country.

and the associated story. This item failed to sell recently on ebay and was priced at a modest $10 bucks, indicating that knowledge and interest of Canadian non-professional football history is quite low.

These are the only two football related issues of these magazines that I am aware of but as with anything related to Canadian football, more vintage items might exist.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

How about those logos!

There are few things more nostalgia inducing (well at least for middle aged North American male sports fans) than vintage logos of the respective teams from their youth, from any league really.

Vintage CFL logos in particular are very evocative of an earlier era and every team went through many different logos and wordmarks and helmet sticker designs over the decades. No comprehensive listing of these logo changes currently exists but it would certainly be a worthwhile effort to compile such a graphical list.

Interestingly the current first full edition of Upper Deck CFL cards (which I will cover in a future post) has some very attractive team logo patch cards that give you some idea of the variability of the designs (but the date ranges attributed to the logos on the cards are sometimes just educated guesswork). 

What you see at the top of the blog page is a somewhat hastily executed mashup of team logos borrowed from a set of large carded 15" X 13" logo art ostensibly issued in conjunction with the 1965 Grey Cup in Toronto and currently available in this ebay auction. The pricing is a stretch at $900 US, and I would think about half of that would be absolute top end for material like this, nice as it is. But on the other hand this is not something you will likely run into anytime again soon. One of the originals and the full set are shown below.

These sorts of large logo boards were issued in other years as well as this advertisement for the 1967 set shows. Note how some of the logos have already changed from the 1965 set and these items include brass grommet holes for hanging.

Here is an example of one of these types of display boards, although the inclusion of the city and team names might indicate it is a different year of issue than those shown in the 1967 order advertisement which only shows the city name (or not, the ad might be inaccurate).

In the mid-nineties the CFL issued a new set of logo boards for use in retail establishments and team stores, etc. which include some of the American franchises. While still attractive they just don't have the oomph that the vintage logos provide. Other years of other issues probably exist.


All information that I can come up with on these items will eventually appear in Volume 3 - Novelties & Souvenirs in due course.

Thanks to Bobby Burrell for the image of the 1967 advertisement, check out Bobby's Vintage Hockey Collector Site for more memorabilia induced virtual trips back to your childhood. 

Welcome to the Collecting Canadian Football Blog Site

This blog is designed to help popularize the hobby of collecting Canadian football (and most specifically CFL - Canadian Football League) memorabilia and to make the existence of this series of catalogues better known in the general sports and trading cards memorabilia hobby

The guides pictured to the right of the posts are the most comprehensive ever created for the Canadian football segment of North American professional sports. You can click on the image to go to the primary catalogue site to get all of the details on the guides, what's included and many PDF downloadable sample pages.

The colour version of Volume I is sold out, and I expect the B&W version of volume I to be sold out relatively soon as well. While an update to these guides (including new items issued since the guides were published as well as newly discovered older material that has since come to light) is planned, it will be an UPDATE only to bring each of the volumes up to the future current date. The complete catalogues WILL NOT BE reprinted as an updated whole and interested collectors will need to have the original volumes for the listings of the vast majority of the material available over the last half century+.

But before the update can be produced, I am currently working on Volume 3 - Novelties and Souvenirs and intend to publish Volume 4 - Publications and Ephemera as well. Because each volume is years in the making, this means the eventual update is still a long way off.

I had considered producing this blog for many years but thought it would just delay the work on the other volumes, which has recently slowed down due to life's unpredictability. So in order to keep up interest in the mean time I decided that I will provide the following content here, with posts hopefully roughly twice a week:
  • Updates on the current volume's work in progress
  • Information on newly issued items that fall in V1 or V2's categories
  • Updates to previously catalogued items in V1 & V2 when new data has been uncovered
  • Information on older items that have been found since V1 & V2 were published
  • and possibly general information on how the guides came to be produced in the first place

Finally, this blog was inspired by The Topps Archives blog that deals with all things related to the Topps company and their central historical role in developing the sports card hobby in North America. It is a treasure trove of information on Topps, baseball cards, hobby history, pop culture history and more. Well worth multiple looks.