Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A Stitch in (Tiger) Time

One very interesting specialist area of Canadian football history collecting is cloth patches or crests that were originally intended to be sewn onto jackets or shirts. Sometimes the crests were just to show your allegiance to a particular team and sometimes they also functioned to show proof of membership in fan clubs to gain admittance to games as well as other team related gatherings.

A fascinating aspect of the patches is how the designs would mirror the team logos as they evolved over the years. The Hamilton Tigers logo image above left came from a game program but looks like it was a sewn patch from the thirties. Patches were popular in that era for the players themselves to wear on team clothing. The other logo above right was the version of the tiger head logo used by the team in the forties.

As early as 1949 the head had evolved to the image above left and was then somewhat slightly simplified to the most familiar snarling tiger in the above right image in the fifties.

Cloth patches from that era had difficulty replicating the large amount of detail in the tiger's face, in fact the Hamilton logos were amongst the most ornate in all of North American professional sports.

This fabulous patch does an excellent job of replicating the tiger's face from the logo and it was probably manufactured to distribute to the players and team personnel after the franchise's first Grey Cup as the unified Tiger-Cats.

The same head was part of the complete big cat team logo, one of the most famous in Canadian Football history for its attractiveness and expressive ferocity, which was well epitomized by the hard-rock Hamilton championship caliber teams of the fifties and sixties.

But early versions of this logo on patches don't really do the menacing power of the tiger much justice. This item is strangely more reminiscent of the modern day Ti-Cat logo shown further down in this post.

Here is a quite strange looking hybrid patch with a portion of the jumping tiger but much less ferocity in the face, and besides he appears to be driving a Mercedes for some reason.

Eventually a reasonable facsimile of the full logo became available for stitching onto fan apparel.

The head only logo was reprised for versions of small team patches that were issued around about the early seventies as part of full league patch sets. By this time the league was managing the licensing of the team images in a more professional and organized manner.

The full jumping tiger logo continued to be used on patches in the eighties and nineties in varying designs and degrees of detail.Some examples are above and below. Note that these patches and most of the others in this post are not necessarily to scale.

In 2005 the team switched their logo to be a much more cartoon-y and ultimately less threatening version of the jumping tiger with nowhere near the amount of graphic detail that the old logo had.

Patches of the new logo in varying styles are of course available as well. Personally I greatly prefer the classic version.

All of this material and similar or related cloth patch items for all of the other CFL teams as well as non-CFL related Canadian football patches will be detailed and priced eventually in Collecting Canadian Football Volume 3. These items are great examples of how memorabilia is indivisibly bound with the history of the sport and social recreation of Canadian football.  

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