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Football Collectibles - Program Mania
( Article orginally published September 1960 )
There are 600 colleges and universities across the nation engaged in the annual fall madness known as collegiate football. Each and every week-end the thousands of patrons who attend these games are sold an "official souvenir program" at a price range of 10 to 50 cents. These "official souvenirs" might be the four-page line-up sheet given free at Lake Forest College, or a slick paper 56-page University of Michigan 50 center.
The writer examined several of the top collections in the country in order to ascertain why hundreds of collector fans around the country eagerly await the arrival of football and football programs.
I will begin with the most enormous football collection under one roof. This superb array of footballiana has been accumulated in San Jose, Calif., by Fred Imhof, a cannery executive. Fred started his task during 1932 and is going strong, as he passes the 17,000 mark. Every school that fielded a grid squad in any year you can name is represented in his collection.
Fred has the excellent cloth bound programs published by the pioneer Eastern schools in the ornate style of the last century. These relics were amply filled with photographs of school officials, the coaching staff, and athletes. Other data included past scores, biographies, and in most cases a rules section.
While the large universities issued the above type of program the smaller ones had to be content to distribute game line-ups free of charge. These souvenirs were similar to the fold-over cardboard used in the minor baseball leagues as score-cards for many years.
We move to Davenport, Ia., for a brief look at the "story" football program collection of Dick Lamb, He is a historian of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame. In this capacity, Dick was a natural to start a collection of this type.
However, to give his collection a touch of uniqueness he accepts programs only from memorable, dramatic games, and upset games, along with the once-a-year spectacular such as Army-Navy, Notre Dame-Southern California, and major Bowl contests. In this way he feels that every program has a definite story behind it.
Both Imhof and Lamb agree that the Ivy League members lead the nation in all phases of publishing these athletic souvenirs. Their programs are printed on quality paper stock, have a few advertisements, and have been enlarged in page size, content, and variety.
Many editors have given in to the high cost of labor and materials when assembling a program. Inferior quality paper is then used, with possibly a reduction of pages. Advertising is also increased, which results in less sport news.
One non-Ivy League member, Michigan State, annually produces in their Spartan Gridiron News, the nation's finest football program. Its 1957 product was adjudged by a New York advertising company to be best in its field for editorial excellence.
This East Lansing school bested over 200 entrants in a contest based on circulation. Michigan State won on the basis of appearance, editorial interest, and the ingenuity and ideas expressed.