Saturday, May 17, 2008

1968 Fleer Football Big Signs

Fleer's first Football Big Signs set is often referred to as the 1968 set due to the 1968 copyright at the bottom of the signs. Unlike the Baseball set which contained the team logos with generic baseball drawings, the Football set contained paintings depicting each team. The backs are blank.

The Big Signs contain the same images that were also used on posters marketed by NFL Properties, so it appears NFL Properties licensed these images to Fleer for their set. If you had any of these posters as a kid (which I think were available through Sports Illustrated and perhaps even through Scholastic as I remember ordering the Steelers poster through school), you'll recognize the pictures on these Big Signs.

Here is an example of the Steelers Big Sign:

And here is the Poster with the same image:

Even though these have a 1968 copyright, they were actually issued many years later. The evidence can be found on the Patriots Big Sign:

The Patriots were known as the Boston Patriots until February 18, 1971 when the became the BAY STATE PATRIOTS. That's right -The Bay State Patriots. Here is an article from Feb 27, 1971:

Obviously as this article points out, this was not a popular change, so they went back to the drawing board, and decided on the New England Patriots, as this article from The Bridgeport Post dated March 23, 1971 explains:

So if the Patriots are called the New England Patriots on their Big Sign, the absolute earliest these could have been released was the 1971 season.

However, we then run into the Redskins:

The uniform depicted on the Big Sign was not used until 1972. For the 1970 & 1971 seasons, the Redskins used the Vince Lombardi designed helmet (yellow helmet with a red R) that emulated the Packers design. Therefore, the earliest these Big Signs could have been issued is 1972.

Looking at the helmet designs depicted on the signs, the helmets are generally consistent with what was worn during the 1972 & 1973 seasons, so these could have been released either of these 2 years. The one exception is the Eagles. For some reason, they are shown with green helmets when they actually wore white helmets from 1969 - 1973. Perhaps the Eagles sign is based on artwork from 1968 when the Eagles were wearing green helmets, and new artwork was not created for the Eagles at the time to deal with the helmet difference.

While it is possible that this set may have been issued in 1974 (when the Eagles went back to a green helmet), the second Fleer Football Big Signs set that I will cover next time is generally thought to be from 1974, so that would most likely put this set in either 1972 or 1973.

The 1968 copyright therefore refers to when the images on the signs were copyrighted by NFL Properties and not when the cards were released.

Here are all the signs from the set for the 26 teams that were in the league at the time:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Colts

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers

Houston Oilers

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

St. Louis Cardinals

San Diego Chargers

San Francisco 49ers

Washington Redskins

Next time I'll cover the 1974 Football Big Signs which are very different from this set.


doublenoughtspy said...

Those are some sweet 70s graphics.

I like the Raiders one the best.

While I suppose it is meant to a coach - I can see how the guy in the Chicago one represents gangsters that the city was once famous for.

Moose said...

"A" coach in the Chicago one? If you've ever seen a pic of George Halas, I don't know how anyone could say that's a pic of anyone but GSH...

Jeff said...

Just arriving from Uni Watch ...

I had the Packers poster in this series (in 1969, I think) and I hated it. Seemed as if the NFL was trying to "get hip with the kids." And I was a kid at the time!

Much cooler are the Packers art poster and prints distributed at Mobil gas stations at about the same time.

John said...

any idea what a set of these might be worth? I have the entire set in mint condition!