A piece of history you can hold in your hands



I started collecting trading cards in the late 1980s. At the time, the cards had a very basic design. It was even a thrill to get a piece of extra sugary gum, whose flavor lasted for only a few seconds, in the pack along with the cards. I remember my dad telling me how it once was cool to take the cards of the players you did not like, and put them in your bike spokes to make it rumble like it was a motorcycle.

As more companies got involved in the trading card business during the 1990s, they began upping the ante of what the cards looked like and what came in each pack. The plain cardboard card of generations past turned into the shiny, foil, sometimes over-the-top card. The 2000s brought about a refocus of developing trading cards that were not only created for their glitz and glamour, but produced with artfulness and ingenuity in mind. Currently, trading cards often times mean something more, with snippets of game used jerseys, pieces of footballs, and autographs. Today's cards are much more than a snapshot of your favorite player; they are a literal piece of the game.

One of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's sponsors/partners is Panini. They have been in the trading card/sticker business for the past 50 years. However, it was only in 2009 that they acquired the licenses to produce National Football League cards and their first NFL cards came out a year later. I just wanted to take this time and highlight three of the 2011 Panini NFL releases that we now have in stock at the Hall of Fame store. Each has a unique concept and distinct features that make them sought after by collectors and fans alike.

Crown Royale

Crown Royale distinguishes itself from the other brands by its unique die cut features on its base set of cards. The top of the card is in the shape of a crown. Each of the subsets stay consistent with the royal theme by having names such as Kings of the NFL, Knights of the Gridiron, Rookie Royalty, and Crown Jewels.

"The Rookie Silhouettes design that debuted in Crown Royale Football last year really helped re-launch the brand with a huge bang," said Ben Ecklar, Panini America's Director of Product Development. "When the 2010 product season ended, those cards stood tall as some of the most striking of the entire year – not just in football, but across all sports. This year we've managed to significantly improve on what many collectors thought was pretty close to perfection." An autographed or memorabilia card comes one per pack.

Absolute Memorabilia

Absolute Memorabilia is all about memorabilia and autographs. What really stands out to me, and sets these cards apart, is the huge swatches of jerseys on some of the memorabilia cards, as seen below with the Fred Jackson Tools of the Trade card. The Absolute brand does a good job of mixing in the current rookie class along with the greats of yesterday and today. The War Room subset covers all the important rookies of 2011, giving you a swatch of their jersey along with their autograph. While the Canton Absolutes subset focuses on current Hall of Famers (such as Marshall Faulk) or ones that will no doubt make it to the Hall of Fame someday (such as Tom Brady).

Timeless Treasures

The name says it all. First, the cards come in one of four tins either current stars Adrian Peterson and Matt Ryan, or stars of the past Hall of Famers Harold "Red" Grange and Earl "Dutch" Clark. Within each tin the collector gets 8 cards, including three memorabilia or autographed cards. My favorite aspect of these cards are the Game Day Souvenirs, because they feature swatches of the player's jersey from a specific game/date that is shown on the card. This feature allows card collectors the potential of getting a card of a game they actually attended. This set of cards also includes the opportunity to get cut signatures of Hall of Famers ranging from the charter Class of 1963 ("Red" Grange, "Dutch" Clark, or Jim Thorpe) to the on card autographs of the Class of 2011. Speaking of Thorpe, one of the most unique cards in the set is one that features a piece from each of his football, baseball, and Olympic uniforms.

It's never too early to start picking up those stocking stuffers for the football fans in your life, so check out the Hall of Fame Store's selection of football trading cards. Hopefully those football fans will receive a piece of history that can hold in their own hands.

Sources used for his blog:

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