Thursday, 22 June 2017

Team Royalist or Team Federalist, both like a good beverage.

Two vintage categories of collectibles that there were an awful lot of items produced across a large range of styles, types and compositions, are CFL themed glassware and tableware from the fifties, sixties and seventies. Eventually these numerous sets will all be catalogued in Collecting Canadian Football Volume 3, where a Macro category distinction will be made between Glassware (food and beverage containers and utensils made specifically of glass) and Tableware (food and beverage containers and utensils made of any material, other than glass).

This post will preview two sets from the Tableware category that span the time frame from the mid fifties to the early seventies. Both are colourful and fairly highly sought after, although providing the space required to display these attractive pieces is not something that every collector is willing or able to accommodate.

Saucer and Teacup from circa 1955 Royal Stafford Football Series
("Rough Riders" is misspelled for Saskatchewan on the saucer, and so probably on their cup too)

    One of the least likely pairings one could imagine came about sometime during the middle of the fifties when an English fine bone china manufacturing company issued a tea cup and saucer set celebrating the bone crunching sport of Canadian Football. The exact year is uncertain (all nine teams exist) and the existing Royal Stafford company website has no information about vintage past issues.

Each saucer and teacup have the company branding on the bottom and each piece has gold highlights and an autumn leaves motif  

The graphic design work is impressive with different player poses for each team and what looks like fairly accurate uniform and colour renditions for each club. The images are very evocative of the era of early goalposts and no face masks which is a solid indicator that these were a fifties issue. The images would have had to have been copied from photographs provided to the china company as it would be highly unlikely that their normal artists would have had any concept of what Canadian Football was.

Each cup has the Grey Cup on the reverse and each saucer does as well with the slogan
"Symbol of Canadian Football Supremacy"

The players are not identified but each has a number and it is possible that a check of rosters from the mid fifties for each team might correlate with known athletes, or they may be totally arbitrary. The lack of distinct player identification is why these items were slated for Collecting Canadian Football Volume 3 instead of Volume 1.

Since these were dishes the set is of course subject to wear, especially if they were ever put through the dishwasher cycle and so pristine items with the gold leaf trim intact command a premium, usually landing in the $50-$75 range per team.

Fast forwards about 15 years to roughly 1971 or so and the Federal Glass Company from Columbus Ohio produced a set of CFL themed opaque glass milk mugs for each team with a caricature of modern players. Federal produced probably thousands of mugs of different designs and this issue was likely sponsored by the league itself.

Each cup had the player graphic on one side and the well known team helmet logo on the other.
The cups are 3" tall and 3" in diameter at top

The caricatures once again are not identified as any particular player, but certain very well known players from that era do match the jersey numbers (#30 Jim Young for B.C. & #10 Gerry Keeling for Calgary for example) and so a little roster research here might determine that in fact identities could be assigned to each cup.

If that is Argo QB Joe Thiesmann at top left he looks more like a linebacker than a quarterback.
The cups also feature striping in team colours between the cartoon and the helmet logo.

The cartoon designs are unsigned but are very reminiscent of the work of Canadian artist Ted Michener who did the caricature work for the same era 1971 Macs Milk player stickers (as listed in Collecting Canadian Football Volume 1, but misspelled "Mitchener").

Left image shows false colour bottom for cup no 41 (Calgary) and
right image is cup no 4-something-but-not-1 (Winnipeg)

The bottom of the cups has the Federal logo and possibly a unique cup number for the series, more research is required to see if other cups also have distinct numbers and usually it is very hard to make out the printing on the cup bottoms from online images.

Hamilton, B.C. and Saskatchewan all have somewhat similar player poses

These cups also tend to be found with dishwasher and usage damage, so pristine examples go for premium amounts, but generally speaking a cup in pretty good condition usually costs about $20.

Both of these issues are not necessarily that easy to come by and putting together a complete set of 9 cups in good condition for either group would be a challenging prospect.