Striped Uniforms Trade Cards Among Earliest Football Issues

It’s in the Details

Title Striped Uniforms Trade Cards
Year Unknown
Size 2 3/4″ x 4″
Image Color
Type Trade Card
Number in Set
4 (?)

Striped Uniforms Trade Cards Overview

001

Trade Football Rugby Card

001-copy

These unique trading cards featured early images of American football. It should be noted that they could also be seen as rugby issues, in particular because one card features what looks like a rugby scrum. Because they are an American set that was likely produced after 1882, when the sport of American football was really modernized, I have included it here.

Another reason I classify these as American football issues as opposed to rugby is because all of the advertisements I have seen on them are for American businesses. The cards were certainly distributed here in the U.S.

The rugby-like pose shouldn’t be surprising to collectors since American football had some of its early roots from rugby. The rules of the game were much different then and, in fact, what is considered as the first American football game, Rutgers and Princeton in 1869, featured a game with a round ball and players were not even allowed to pick it up and run with it.

As with most other trade cards, these appeared with the names of other merchants as well.

Dating these has been a bit difficult. As with other 19th Century trade cards, however, they are printed on thin paper stock. Each is approximately 3″ wide x 4″ tall with a thin red border around the image. These are likely from the 1880s or 1890s. The cards have a thin red line around the edges of a white border, with that design being common to several baseball trade card issues of the same time period (i.e. some of the Baby Talk cards, for example).

Of note here is that all three cards pictures players wearing striped uniforms. As I have not see any official name for this set, I have dubbed it the Striped Uniforms issue.

The cards are typically quite rare. I only discovered a fourth issue in 2021 after having been aware of the set for years.

Striped Uniforms Trade Cards Checklist

To date, I have found only the four examples shown here.

  1. Ball carrier against defender (black and yellow stripes)
  2. Defender against ball carrier (orange and blue stripes)
  3. Kicking ball through uprights (blue and white stripes)
  4. Scrum (red and white stripes)

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