Friday, December 18, 2015

Syracuse Football Jersey c.1886

This jersey came with a family Syracuse provenance. Handmade rather than factory manufactured it has no label and pre-dates most other football jerseys we have seen. The script S in our experience normally dates a period jersey to 1886, plus or minus, which we believe to be the case here. This jersey was worn before Syracuse officially had a school team in 1889 and well before their official block S appeared on their jerseys. This jersey would have been worn in the rugby football intramural contests that were common at Syracuse at the time.

Truxton Hare / 1894 St. Marks Eleven

What we believe to be the earliest known football photos (4" x 3") of Truxton Hare while playing at St. Marks School in Southborough, Mass., identified on the back as the '94 Eleven. Hare played for the University of Pennsylvania from 1897 to 1900 and was one of the few to achieve All-American status all four years. He also took part in the 1900 and 1904 Olympics in various sporting events, and between the two Olympics came away with a gold, silver and bronze medal.

'94 Eleven team roster

You do not usually see any humor related to 19th century cabinet photos. This variation of the above team photo is identified on the back (below) as "Tommy in a puddle of water". See front center in the photo.

My apologies to followers of this blog for the lack of recent entries. We have been involved with two major football research projects that have taken up all of our free time. One of these projects may end up as a book if we do not end up putting it in this blog at some point down the road.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

1858 Stereoview “The Wall Game”


The "Wall Game", an early  precursor to modern football, began at Eton as early as 1766 and later developed into the ‘Field Game”. This game, played with eleven men per side was credited with influencing the American game to be played with that same number of men.

One of the earliest stereoviews or photos from football’s beginnings.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Andover vs Exeter Broadside 1897

  Large and colorful broadside featuring one of the oldest football rivalries. The rivalry between Phillips Academy (Andover) and Phillips Exeter Academy (Exeter) began in 1878 and is considered the longest running secondary school match up in the country. Traditionally these two boarding schools have been feeder schools for Yale and Harvard.   22" x 14"                                         

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fielding Yost / Ohio Wesleyan / 1897 / Part ll

This unusual souvenir program commemorates the 1897 championship season for Ohio Wesleyan. This posting relates directly to our April 18, 2015 blog entry (in fact the photograph from that entry is reproduced on one of the early pages of this brochure) and we chose to add this as a separate post due to the number of scanned pages. We did not include another ten pages of songs and advertisements. Interesting photo and  write-up on Yost.




Monday, August 10, 2015

William Henry Lewis

Pictured above is the earliest known photo of football legend William Henry Lewis when first playing varsity football at Amherst College, c.1889.

Lewis was a man of many firsts. Considered one of the first of three African American varsity college football players he is regarded as a pioneer in not only athletics but also law and politics. He was the first African American All-American in the history of college football (at Harvard 1892, 1893). Lewis  became the first African American to be appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney (in 1903),  the first African American United States Assistant Attorney General (in 1910) and one of the first African Americans to be admitted to the American Bar Association (1911). 

He attended Amherst College and was well-known as a ground-breaking student leader. W.E.B. Du Bois attended the Amherst graduation ceremony to witness Lewis obtain his diploma (along with a several other African American students). 

Lewis played varsity football for three years at Amherst beginning in his sophomore year (1889, 1890, 1891) and for two years for Harvard while attending law school (1892, 1893), most often as a centre rush.  He was the first African American to captain a predominantly white football team, at Amherst, and was the first African American football player and also possibly the first African American athlete at Harvard.  

After Law school, Lewis continued his association with football, coaching (assistant coach at Harvard from 1895 – 1906) and writing articles on the sport as well as penning one of the first books to ever discuss football strategy, entitled “A Primer of College Football,” which was published in 1896.

After a fairly exhaustive year and a half long search, we reviewed all of the known/documented photos of Lewis that we were able to locate. It was obvious that his looks were noticeably affected by age and weight, length of hair (longer during football season), and the fact that he was what was considered a “light-skinned black” man. Lewis exhibits marked ptosis (drooping of the eyelid) of the left eye, a characteristic aiding in the confirmatory identification of Lewis in many photographs. This is a fact we recognized from our research and have not seen reference to previously in any written work. There are a number of identified period photographs where it is not obvious to most that Lewis is African American - see photo above titled “1892 Center Trio”, picturing “W.C. Mackie, ’94 and M.S., W.H. Lewis, L.S., B.G. Waters ’94 and L.S.” - used here with permission of the Beale family – copied from  “The History of Harvard Football, 1874 – 1948”. Also pictured below is a close-up of the lower right corner of an oversized albumin photo c. 1894 by E. Chickering of Boston including Lewis, when playing for the Hyde Park football club (see June 27, 2016 posting).

In addition to Lewis, two other early African American varsity college football players that began playing in 1889 were William Tecumseh Sherman Jackson, also playing for Amherst (1889, 1891), and Thomas James Fisher, who played football at Beloit College in 1889, 1890 and 1892.

In the Amherst College Olio ’91 yearbook, the 1889 College Eleven is listed which included W.H. Lewis, Rusher and W.T.S. Jackson, HB. This was in their sophomore year. In the Olio ’92, the College Eleven for the 1890 season is listed and Lewis is listed again as a rusher (he was known as the centre rush, or in today’s terms, the center, a position he continued to play at Harvard). Jackson was listed as a director (one of four), but not as a team member, and was not present in the team photo. The ’93 Olio lists the College Eleven for 1891, and includes Lewis (centre rush) and Jackson, RH.

To put the significance of Lewis, Jackson, and Fisher playing varsity college football in 1889 into perspective, our research and utilizing research done by Gregory Bond specifically, as part of his Doctoral dissertation in 2008 “Jim Crow At Play: Race, Manliness, and the Color line In American Sports, 1876-1916”(certainly the definitive and most important work on African Americans in athletics during this period) suggests that it was not until the 1898 season that there were more than ten African Americans playing college football in the United States on predominantly white teams, only three African Americans played football in 1889, six in 1890, and either seven or eight for the years 1891 through 1897. This is also one reason for the extreme scarcity of pre-1900 college football photos with African American players.
The 1889 photo* at the beginning of this article may well be the earliest known photo to date of any collegiate varsity African American athlete that played football, in a football uniform or setting. 

*This photo may in fact be as early as 1888 as this is the year Lewis enrolled at Amherst and played on the freshman team. It is generally believed and cited in most sources that he began playing football in his sophomore year (and this was the case for him playing on the varsity team).  The source of the information referring to Lewis playing on the freshman team in 1888 was Morris Beale’s book on Harvard football (referenced in the above posting), in a reprinted article by Wilbur Wood. It likely is the case as Lewis himself was an acknowledged contributor to Beale’s book.

Monday, August 3, 2015

NY Giants vs. Hominy Indians 1931 Program

Look back at our August 14, 2013 posting where you can read about the Hominy Indians winning out in an exhibition game over the 1927 World Champion New York Giants (a post-season barnstorming game of sorts, the Giants were comprised of the nucleus of the team bolstered by a number of ringers, according to our friend Art Shoemaker). Four years later in a pre-season exhibition game the Giants beat the Hominy Indians (who were having tough times, reflected by their losing record), payback for their embarrassing loss in 1927, this time by the lopsided score of 54 – 0. We have scanned the cover and roster pages from this exceedingly rare 1931 program.  The Giants' roster reads like a who's-who with names like Badgro, Owen, Hein, Cagle, etc.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Association Football Themed Flask C. 1880s


Diminutive 4 ¾” x 2 ½” glass flask with a silver plated detachable base cup. We like early sports related flasks (see September 28, 2014 post) and this one features an Association football which we have not seen before. The handshake design below the football may indicate membership in a fraternal organization.  The flask has some great air bubble inclusions adding to its character.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

St. Nicholas Hockey Club Jersey c.1916 / Hobey Baker / Theodore Conklin

As football enthusiasts we are all aware of the aura around and exploits of Hobey Baker.  Jacob and I have several really unusual football related photographs that include Baker that we plan to include as part of this post, but for now, since I have on occasion exposed my hockey alter ego, I once again diverge slightly. 

The pictured hockey jersey is a game worn St. Nicholas Hockey Club jersey dating from the very few years that Hobey Baker played on that team. It is the only such jersey that we know of from this club and era that has come to light. The Alex Taylor label puts this jersey at no earlier than 1914, the company moving to the 26 E. 42nd St. address during that year. The label address and the distinctive style and variations with the stripe and St. Nicholas lettering put this jersey squarely in the timeframe of Hobey Baker, specifically the 1915-1916 or 1916-1917 time period, but probably not the 1914-1915 season. The back of the St. Nicks jersey has a sewn on number "2" that we originally thought may have been added later, but it may in fact be period, as we see in an International News Photo (copy of photo and close-up pictured) dating from the 1915/1916 time period a posed Hobey Baker in a St. Nicks jersey with a number on the back of his jersey. This photo was taken at a time in hockey when numbers were just beginning to be worn on the back of their jerseys and would have been added after the jersey was manufactured (a few years after numbered armbands and numbers on the fronts of jerseys were utilized).
In fact in 1915 wearing a number was becoming more frequent and was required in championship games under the Championship Rules of the American Amateur hockey League. The players of each club shall be numbered, shall wear their numbers on the back of the jersey or sweater and as far as possible, shall retain the same numbers throughout a championship series.

This jersey has made it through a century and was of significance to someone who took great care to pass it down. Won't it be fascinating to determine who wore this jersey. After all, it was on the ice at the same time as Hobey Baker...

Jacob and I have acquired the matching St. Nicholas hockey pants/leggings that were split off as a separate lot from the jersey at the auction we had bought the jersey at. We did not know of their existence at the time due to the item description. It is fortunate from a research perspective that they have the original name tag of the owner sewn into them: Theodore B. Conklin Jr., who was a teammate of Baker’s on the St. Nicholas team. Rosters in 1916 and early 1917 have Conklin as Point (for example see NYT, February 18, 1917 article titled "St. Nicholas Stars Lose: Hobey Baker Unable to Stave Off 2 to 1 Defeat by Boston H.C." (one month before Baker’s last game for St. Nicholas)). This information was added to the blog on  02OCT17.

Baker, after graduating from Princeton (where he was known for excelling in both football and hockey) started playing for the St. Nicholas Hockey Club in 1914 and played for them during the 1914-1915 and 1915-1916 seasons. In 1916 Baker took up residence in Philadelphia and from November 1916 into 1917 Baker represented St. Nicks in their exhibition play. His last game representing St. Nicholas was in March of 1917, the St. Nicks vs. the Aura Lee team of Toronto (Ontario Hockey Association).

The final hockey game he played in was on March 24, 1917 when he played in an amateur All Star exhibition game which basically pitted Pittsburg against Philadelphia, played at the Winter Garden. Philadelphia won.

WWl came and went and Hobey Baker had played in his last hockey game.

                                        Close up photo of the jersey – note: photo is printed in reverse

Potential search terms: St. Nicholas hockey club jersey , St. Nicholas hockey club ,  antique hockey jersey , Hobey Baker jersey , Hobey Baker hockey jersey



The H.F.B.C. and the Foundations of Football: Beginnings of a Game : 1873 Membership Shingle

The Harvard University Foot-Ball Club was formed in December of 1872.

In its first full year (1873), membership certificates for this club were issued. Morton Prince, player and secretary for the HUFBC, designed and had made these certificates as well as a seal for this organization. The seal, made by Henry Mitchell (master engraver of Boston), features a round football, a motto of “Semper Surgens”, and the letters H.F.B.C. (see photo). Pictured is one of the earliest football documents in existence.

Morton Prince also authored a section of the H Book of Harvard Athletics (1923) entitled “History of Football at Harvard, 1800 – 1875 (June)” (pgs. 311 – 371), and he is considered the preeminent early Harvard football historian. This exact certificate is reproduced on pg. 351 of the H Book, as part of Prince’s work.

                    Morton Prince’s 1873 Harvard University Foot-Ball Club Certificate (or “Shingle”)

                                                                  Close-up of the wax seal

The Shingle 

The membership certificate was referred to as a “shingle” and required a one-dollar fee to purchase. This membership allowed for support of the organization and for members to play football recreationally as part of the club.

Interestingly, this shingle is the only example that would have been completed and signed by the team captain. It is signed by the football team’s captain, Henry R. Grant, as Morton Prince “did not wish to sign, as secretary, on his own shingle”, according to his accounting in the H Book of Harvard Athletics. This certificate remained one of Prince’s prized possessions throughout his life.

Harvard Rejects Yale’s Request 

In October of 1873, Yale contacted Columbia, Harvard, Rutgers, and Princeton, proposing to establish an intercollegiate football association with a standard set of rules. Many from Harvard felt uneasy about Yale’s proposal. For example, the Harvard Advocate wrote on October 17, 1873: “If we should attend such a convention, as Yale proposes we should naturally feel bound to agree to the code of rules favored by the majority of the committee. It is evident that the result could not fail to be unsatisfactory to the football players at Harvard”. What was termed the “Boston game” was equivalent to the Harvard Game in 1873, in which “a player was permitted to pick up the ball, run with it, throw it, or pass it. He could also seize and hold an adversary to prevent him from getting the ball”.  In contrast, the games played by the other four schools were essentially “all foot work” during this time. Given the drastic changes they would have needed to implement into their game, is quite understandable why Harvard might have viewed Yale’s request with apprehension.

Upon receipt of Yale’s letter by the HUBFC, a meeting was held by the officers of this football club (headed up by Captain Grant and Secretary Prince) and other members of this organization. It was at this meeting that Captain Grant and the rest of the team decided to reject Yale’s proposal to form an intercollegiate football association. In a letter from Grant to the secretary of the Yale Football Association, he explained the differences in the style of games Harvard played from the other institutions and, some say, tactfully belittled the others’ style of play. In his reply to Yale, Captain Grant states, “The feeling in the college was unanimous in maintaining our rules at the expense of matches with other colleges”. Harvard thus did not join the intercollegiate football association, and the path of American Football was forever changed.

Harvard plays McGill 

In early 1874, Captain Gant received an unexpected letter from David Roger, captain of the of McGill University team in Canada, suggesting the schools play several matches against one another. Harvard’s Grant and Prince were the two key Harvard team members to work out the games’ specifics and the rules under which they would be played.  The games needed to be played in Cambridge, as the Harvard administration would not allow the team to travel during the school year while classes were in session.

Two matches were scheduled for the 14th and 15th of May, 1874, at Jarvis Field in Cambridge. The first was played under Harvard rules, and the second under McGill’s rugby regulations. The McGill players showed up in uniform (the first time this had been seen by Harvard players) and the Harvard players, although not in their normal “oldest clothes”, appeared in white undershirts, dark pants, and magenta handkerchiefs on their heads. Still, the Harvard players were a bit embarrassed.  They won the game by a score of 3-to-0, and fought to a 0-to-0 tie the following afternoon. This second match is considered the first intercollegiate rugby game to take place in America.

In each of these two games, the teams played with eleven men per side. The “Boston game” allowed for between ten and fifteen per side, although they were normally referred to as “the eleven”. McGill was accustomed to playing with any number between ten and twenty. Originally, the matches were to be played with fifteen men, however only eleven men were able to make the trip from Montreal.

In the famous composite photograph from the Harvard vs. McGill 1874 fall contest, when Harvard travelled to Montreal, Morton Prince is easily recognizable. I have him circled in the photograph. I have also included a photograph of the Harvard’s spring 1874 foot-ball team, inclusive of Captain Grant. In the fall of 1874, Arthur Ellis assumed the position of Captain.

                                     Harvard vs. McGill, Fall of 1874. Morton Prince is circled.

                      Harvard University Foot-Ball Club Captain Henry Grant is seated at center 

This certificate, or shingle, is an extraordinary example of football documentation from the absolute earliest days of football. Certainly the most significant early American football document that we are aware of. It stems from two of the most pivotal players from an historic and crucial phase of the game. Harvard’s rejection of the style of play that constituted association football in 1873  and its subsequent adoption of the rugby game as a result of the Harvard games against McGill in 1874 are the only reason we have football today as we know it and not a game than more closely resembles soccer.  In the words of Morton Prince, “If Harvard had not refused (to join the Association …) it is highly probable that the modern game played today – like American Rugby – would ever have been evolved. Instead, all the Universities, colleges and schools today would be playing Association rules, - practically soccer”. After playing McGill, Harvard adopted their rugby game, considering it a worthy extension, even a superior replacement, for its own brand of football.

In 1876, the Intercollegiate Football Association was formed by Harvard, Columbia and Princeton using slightly modified rugby rules. The rest quickly fell into place and, as is stated so often, the rest is history.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

1891 Williston Football / Amos Alonzo Stagg

                                                         1891 Williston Football Team 

Amos Alonzo Stagg’s first paid coaching position was at Williston Seminary, a Preparatory school in Easthampton Massachusetts where he coached both football and baseball in 1890 and 1891. Stagg was also Williston’s first non-playing coach. His coaching was limited to one day a week at Williston due to travel time from Springfield to Easthampton as well as demands on his time at the YMCA.  He coached at Williston while simultaneously coaching at the International YMCA College in Springfield. 

This 1891 team was accused, justifiably, for having employed “ringers” or “emergency men” to play for them. As it so happens this was not an isolated or even necessarily a rare occurrence at the time and was not limited to one sport or one prep or boarding school or to one rivalry.

A rival boarding school, Suffield School (Suffield Literary Institution) had lost a game to Williston in October of 1891 after a ringer was brought into the game and significantly ran up the score. This player by the name of Bond, who was not an enrolled student, was never to be heard from again. A quote from a Suffield School editorial at that time regarding the game, and hopefully, a rematch, stated with pride that they would once again play against Williston "as formerly, with our own men”.

I had initially believed this photo to be Williams College as there are individuals who played for Williams in this photo. Recently however, we also found a player on the Amherst football team of 1892 who is in this photo. The riddle was solved by Jacob, utilizing the Williston archives, where the identical photo can be seen. Players after graduation went directly from Williston to play for college or university teams.

Early football photos with African Americans are quite difficult to come by, particularly pre 1900, and this is certainly one of the earliest that we have seen. Williston was integrated by the 1870s and African Americans were members of the athletic teams by the 1880s. 

This near mint albumin measures  13 3/8” x 10 1/8”.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Fielding Yost / Ohio Wesleyan / 1897 / Part l

Best known for his coaching years at Michigan (1901-1923, 1925-1926), Fielding Yost got his start coaching Ohio Wesleyan in 1897. This first coaching position lasted for one year which was the beginning of a journey through six schools, the last of which was Michigan. This original rare photo is from that first coaching job and has the names of the coach and players as well as the schedule and scores attached to the photo which is mounted on a mat that proclaims “Ohio Conference Champions”.


The player standing behind and to the right of Fielding Yost in the photograph is his slightly younger brother, Ellis Yost.

Back row, middle is Charles Lloyd Barney. He played professional football for the Latrobe Athletic Association and later for the Pittsburg Stars in 1902, their one year in existence. Barney was also well known as a strongman , lifting horses, pianos and the like.

Nice early piece of Yost memorabilia.

1890 Harvard Football Team Albumin

Period albumin of the 1890 Harvard varsity football team. This team was unbeaten and untied, scoring 555 points while holding its opponents to 12. This included a 12 to 6 win over Yale, only the second win over the Elis since 1875.

The photo includes five All-Americans, including four-time All-American Marshall “Ma” Newell (seated between the two H sweaters), John Cranston, Dudley Dean, John Corbett and Frank Hallowell. Trafford and Lee were named to the second All-American team.

Everett Lake, ex WPI is to the far right (see November 5, 2013 blog posting). 

Original frame and mat, 13 x 19 ½ sight. Pach Bros. photo.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

1894 Gold Championship Charm - A.N. Jerrems, Yale

1894 championship gold charm belonging to A.N. Jerrems of Yale. The 1894 Yale team was unbeaten and untied. What makes this charm intriguing is that it has engraved on it the scores for that year of the Yale - Princeton game (24 to 0) and importantly the Yale -  Harvard game (12 to 4), better known as the “Bloodbath at Hampden Park”. This game, one of the most notable and most violent games of the nineteenth century resulted in a cessation of play between H and Y for the next two years. Varying accounts of the game had at least six players hurt seriously enough to be taken from the game and two players removed for slugging.

Some of the more significant injuries included:  

Wrightington, broken collar bone (kneed by Louis (not Frank) Hinkey)

Hallowell broken nose (care of Fred Murphy)

Fred Murphy head injury (taken from the field on a cot),

Charles Brewer broken leg

Al Jerrems head injury

Butterworth head injury (poked in eye by Bert Waters)

Slugging Hayes and Armstrong 

Reading the accounts of the injuries, Jerrems is usually listed as suffering a head injury, but a unique account in “Outlook”, Dec 1, 1894 in an article entitled “The Harvard – Yale Game”, a firsthand account is as follows: “I had a near view of Jerrems (Yale) who was writhing about suffering from a kick to the groin, which will probably prevent his playing again this year, if ever.” Jerrems did return to play for Yale the following year.

A neat and rare memento inclusive of the Harvard-Yale game of 1894.

Some of the blue enamel is the worse for wear, likely caused by years of use and cleaning and polishing.

Friday, January 9, 2015

University of Illinois Homecoming Cap / Beanie 1910

Illinois Homecoming cap or beanie, made for and worn at the first college homecoming in 1910. A Holy Grail of Illinois Homecoming memorabilia.


The printed label inside the cap reads: 

Hang It On
U of I
Oct 15 1910
Stern Bothers Clothiers
Champaign Ills.

Also inside the cap are the names of students and alumni that inked their name or nicknames such as H.Leo, Bill Lee ’11, Percy ’10, F. Howard ’10, Rube ’13, Dick Graham, Dutch ’10, Penne ’10 and others.
The University of Illinois is generally accepted to have held the first true college Homecoming on this October weekend in 1910. There is some level of discussion as to what constitutes a Homecoming and several other schools have made the argument that they should also be considered when looking at which school came first. Schools such as Baylor, Indiana and Missouri lay some claim to beginning college Homecoming, but none other than Illinois seem to satisfy the generally accepted criteria for calling an event a homecoming, a formal planned annual event designed to bring alumni back to campus, and central to the events a intercollegiate football game. It really does not make any difference to most of us, but makes for an interesting story. Harvard and Yale have played since 1875, and although initially not part of an official homecoming is certainly one of the greatest football traditions and rivalries. What is primarily of interest to us and the followers of this blog is that the Illinois Homecoming tradition has generated some of the most unique, beautiful and collectable of football items . Besides this cap, think oval homecoming  pinbacks, for instance (see two such examples below).


For an interesting related site visit:  and click on the individual beanies at the top of the page..