I have been a collector since the age of five. I guess it is in my blood, a part of my DNA. My father is an antiques dealer, and as a result I must have gone to ten thousand garage sales, swap meets, antiques shops and estate sales as a kid. I typically looked for baseball cards while my dad looked for… well, everything else.
I began collecting AFL memorabilia in 1997, when I started researching Sid Gillman for my master’s thesis. It all started innocently-enough. Just a handful of football cards to get signed by the former Chargers that I was interviewing as part of my project. Alas, my genetic make-up being what it is, “a handful of football cards” kind of bothered me in it’s overall incompleteness, and so it became all of the Chargers cards from the 1960s Then all of the Topps Chargers cards from 1970-current to add on to my 1960s run. Throw in some game programs, a few vintage photos, a team football or two, and it was all over for me. I was an AFL collector.
Today I lump my collections into a handful of main themes. First and foremost, are my signed AFL card sets, which can be found HERE. Of the 1,278 cards possible in my version of this collection (complete sets for 1960-63 Fleer and 1964-67 Topps, AFL series only for 1961 Fleer, 1961, 68-69 Topps and AFL rookies only for 1970 Topps) I currently have 1,238 cards signed.
Another popular theme in my collections is vintage AFL photos. I have a large collection of these. Most represent my beloved Chargers, but I have been adding prints and wire photos of other AFL teams and league office personnel. I like to find photos representing popular or important events in AFL history. The majority of these images can be found somewhere on this site.
The last major theme to my collections is comprised of various AFL “items.” I don’t have much along the lines of game used material, just a lone Chargers sideline jacket once issued to and worn by Ron Mix. But I have been fortunate to acquire a lot of different, unique items that mostly pertain to the early Chargers. One of Sid Gillman’s pipes and bow ties, Paul Lowe’s AFL All-Time Team plaque, and a replica of Lance Alworth’s hall of fame bust are all included in my collection.
Of course I have other things that do not fall into any of these themes – a large batch of game programs, AFL publications, regional card sets, and the like.
What I am often wondering is how many other AFL collectors are out there? I know there must be some, as I rarely win eBay auctions with just an opening bid. But are there other AFL-collecting fans out there like me? If so, please speak up and let us know what you like to collect and why. How long have you collected? What are your favorite pieces? I would enjoy hearing from anyone out there.
Are you an AFL collector?