‘It’s In The Details’
|Title||Ya-Lo Football Game Cards
|Year||1925 and 1934|
|Size||2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
|Number in Set
||2 (with various game backs)|
1925 and 1934 Ya-Lo Football Cards Overview
The 1925 and 1934 Ya-Lo Football cards were part of a gaming set. Only two different card designs exist – one is for offensive cards and the other is for defensive cards.
The cards do not contain pictures of specific players. Rather, each one is a generic image. The offensive card features a ball carrier and the other is in a defensive stance. Cards have the initials E.J.G. on them with a copyright for the game’s creator, E.J. Graber.
Both cards are somewhat rare but very inexpensive – usually only a few dollars. Despite not depicting specific teams or players, at that price, these cards are well worth a pickup for pre-war football card collectors. While the cards themselves pop up from time to time for sale, finding the complete game is a much more difficult task. They are around and will occasionally surface at an auction, but are very tough to secure.
In addition to the 1925 football game, Ya-Lo also created other games. In 1934, they re-issued either the same exact game or a very similar game and in 1940, they had a collegiate version.
In all, there are three different sets of cards in the three games:
- Blue and orange bordered cards without card numbers (shown here) – Either 1925 or 1934
- White bordered cards with card numbers (same images as above) – Either 1925 or 1934
- Red and blue-tinted cards (different images) – 1940
The 1925 and 1934 sets utilized the same images. The only difference is that one set has white borders and card numbers on the backs. One set is from 1925 and the other is from 1934, but I am unsure which is which.
The game’s biggest selling point was that it could be played an almost innumerable times without duplication. Specifically, Ya-Lo advertising said 500,000 games could be played without having the same one.
This was one of their ads from the Decatur Daily Review back in December of 1925:
“Not just several .games can be played, but 500,000 can be played without duplication. Just think of it. You have no more idea of who will win or what the score will be than at any ordinary game.”
Every early card game tried to stress that players were engaged in something more than simply a card game. Ya-Lo did the same here and there was even some exaggeration about real coaches using it with their teams. Hilarious.
Do not mistake Ya-Lo for an ordinary card game. It Is an entertainment that has been worked out by football experts. Coaches compliment it upon its exactness and realness. Many coaches are planning to use the game with their squads next year in order to help instruction. Every play in football can be made in Ya-Lo. There are 5,750 possible plays in the game.
So how did you get the game? I’m not sure if it was sold later or not but in 1925, one way to get it was to purchase subscriptions to the Decatur Review. The game could be ‘bought’ for purchasing two four-month subscriptions to the newspaper. That would seem to indicate that, at least the first printing, was only available regionally in Illinois.
Red Grange Involvement
To help push the game, former Illinois and Chicago Bears football star Red Grange was heavily involved. Grange was not only used as a spokesperson but he helped organize the company, according to this old newspaper link.
Further pushing the association was the instructions sheet included in the game. The instructions included a cover letter from Grange to consumers and listed him as a Vice President with the company.
The letter (shown here) was addressed to ‘Mr. Football Fan’ and read:
“It is with pleasure that I announce my association with the Ya-Lo Corporation. Ya-Lo is a scientific realistic football game of exceptional variety, yet simple enuf (sic) for the novice. I am glad to have this chance to educate the public in the science of the great college game.”
Grange then signed off on the letter.
While the images are often referred to as generic players, one interesting theory is that the cards actually depict one of football’s earliest stars, Red Grange.
There’s not much concrete proof on that right now, but Grange played both offense and defense, so it’s not a stretch to picture him in both instances. His involvement with the game as well as the fact that he was a popular local figure would have made him an ideal candidate to depict.
1925 and 1934 Ya-Lo Football Game Checklist
- 1925 Offensive and Defensive Cards
- 1934 Offensive and Defensive Cards