Just like the uniform or protective pads, the football program has evolved through the years. Vintage football programs can be classified into four different time periods. Each of these time periods are discussed below. As this site grows, more and more examples of each type of program will be added. Just click on the link below each paragraph to view more programs. Clicking on the small programs on this page will open a larger picture of each program. .
In the early days of football programs, printing technology did not allow for very ornate programs. As you can see below, some program covers were nothing more than a thick piece of white paper with black print. Some programs have a bit of embellishment on them, but for the most part they are pretty simple. The pre world war 2 category categorizes all programs from the dawn of football programs (1880's) to 1940. These programs are not known for their artwork, however they are highly collectible. The most expensive programs come from this era. (e.g. an Army vs Navy program from 1903 sold for $655.00 on the ebay auction site) As the years get closer to 1940, the programs become more and more colorful. These programs are quite valuable because many of them are being collected. The generation of spectators who would have bought these programs are generally no longer with us. As these programs are found and re-sold, or passed on, many of them are stored into collections where they are generally unavailable. The scarcity of these programs only adds to their value. Here are some examples of pre world war II programs. Click here to see more examples of Pre World War II programs.
During World War II the nation's printing presses were working like crazy to promote the war effort. Advertisements such as Uncle Sam, or Lady Liberty selling war bonds could be seen everywhere in the United States. As America's printers took on a patriotic theme, likewise football programs waved their stars and stripes. In most of the programs from 1941 to 1945, patriotic artwork is prevalent. These programs are not quite as valuable as those from the pre-war era or the golden era, which will be discussed next. The patriotic look of these programs was pasted everywhere, and the 'Uncle Sam' look of these programs do not exhibit as much personality for artwork collectors. Those collectors who buy up their favorite team's programs still value these programs highly. 1940's bowl programs do not fetch as much as those from previous years (some bowls were not even played due to the shortage of strong men), however they are still quite valuable. A 1943 Chicago Bears vs. Washington Redskins sold recently for $129.50 on an ebay auction. It is safe that these old programs would be good investments to gain value in the future. Time only continually separates the modern era from the stars and stripes look of the W.W.II-1940's, and these programs will become more available as they are found among the estates of the aging generation who might have purchased them. The look of these programs captures a part of United States history and are beautiful to the patriotic and spirited. Click here to see more World War II programs.
As World War II ended, former soldiers were looking to open new chapters and opportunities for themselves. The result was football stadiums filling up as university enrollment increased. The vibrance and energy that filled America in the post war period is echoed in the bright colors of programs from this period. The Golden Era of football programs begins in 1946 and lasts all the way until the early and mid- 60's. The programs from this period display the best football artwork ever produced. Printing presses were advanced, and enough spectators attended games to stir demand for colorful artwork.
Collectors who value artwork love the programs from this era. Artwork on these programs may show pictures of general football players or scenes, or they may portray a scene that intices school spirit. The lack of face masks and the distinctive late 40's-1950's coloring make these programs unmistakably the most handsome programs from any era.
Even though Golden Era programs are very beautiful, they usually do not fetch too much money. A nice, regular season program in good condition from your team is fairly purchased anywhere from $15.00 to $20.00. Bowl programs from this era can still be quite pricey. The value of these programs can be very uncertain as they become increasingly more available. The spectators who would have bought these programs are passing them on to collectors at faster rates each year. Many more programs were sold during this era than during W.W.II, so many more are still available.
Some artwork on these programs duplicates itself. Some art is used as a generic cover for football programs and may be found on the covers of publications from many different schools (e.g. A 53' Texas Tech vs. Texas A&M program has the same cover as a 54' Southeastern vs. Southwestern Louisiana program does). Nevertheless, 50's artwork is beautiful, and highly collectible
The Golden Era fizzled out in the early 60's due to the advent of color photography. Golden Era football programs are beautiful. Most of the pictures on this website come from Golden Era programs. Click here to see more Golden Era programs.
The modern era of football programs began in the mid-1960's when color photography replaced hand-artwork as the focus of football programs. These programs are definitely great pieces of team/school memorabilia, and are quite collectible. Modern Era programs are mostly purchased and collected to remember the games they came from. (e.g. I have the 1997 Tech - A&M program below because it was a memorable game- Tech, my team, kicked a 47 yard field goal off of the left upright with 19 seconds left to win. That'll get your heart racing! It was truly a memorable game.) The modern era has produced several games which deserve to be remembered, (e.g. Doug Flutie's Hail Mary to beat Miami in 1984 or Buffalo scoring 5 times to beat Houston in the AFC playoffs) and these games are what add value to the programs. A list of the greatest finishes in college football history is available at http://www.nd.edu/~tmandell/finishestable.html . If you are a fan - this site will get you pumped up.
Modern football programs are available everywhere from online auctions to garage sales. These items do not sell for much money. Buyers should be weary of regular season programs from this era that sell for over $10.00. Memorable games and Bowl games may cost more.
Modern programs may become more collectible in the future it there are changed to the uniform, pads, or if perhaps there is a change in photography that might make these look old. Click here if you would like to see more modern football programs.
Built and Maintained by Matt Walters
Launched: July 15, 1998
Last Updated: July 15, 1998
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