Sport Card Collecting 101: 1948 Leaf Football Kicks Off Football Card Collecting!

by Peter Daddone

052021E-1-300x157 Sport Card Collecting 101: 1948 Leaf Football Kicks Off Football Card Collecting!Welcome back to Sport Card Collecting 101!  As you begin to immerse yourself in auctions and sport card knowledge, you are obviously seeing some eye-popping ending bids.  I’m sure you can’t wait to dig in. So, to celebrate the release of the NFL Football schedule, let’s dive into the 1948 Leaf Football set!

1948 Leaf Kicks Off Football Card Collecting!

george-mcafree-e1621012989885-250x300 Sport Card Collecting 101: 1948 Leaf Football Kicks Off Football Card Collecting!Prior to the release of the 1948 Leaf Football set, 1935 was the last time football fans got to see their favorite players on a trading card.   There are few football sets released prior to 1950, but ironically, two sets were produced in 1948, Bowman and Leaf. 

Collectors and investors tend to gravitate towards the Leaf set as that set featured both professional and collegiate football players. Since you already know how much I love the Leaf set design, you can take a guess as to which set we’ll focus on in today’s class!

Since this was the first year a football set was produced since 1935, all the players in the checklist are technically rookie cards.  Leaf published two different sets, one in 1948 and the other in 1949, that look very similar to each other. Though there are some notable differences, though.

Littered With Variants and Key Cards!

doak-walker1-e1621013200458-247x300 Sport Card Collecting 101: 1948 Leaf Football Kicks Off Football Card Collecting!The 1948 set featured a black and white photo of the player with the uniform colored in and superimposed over a colored background.  This is what produces that “warholesque” effect that I love so much about the 1948 Leaf product line.

There are a host of errors (variations might be a better word) to describe what will surely confuse you at first.  Some player issues have maroon jerseys, some have blue, some have yellow backgrounds, some don’t.  So, as a result, some player variations are seen in shorter supply.  This leads to some pretty valuable NFL Hall of Fame Rookie Cards.  For example, Doak Walker has a yellow background and white background variations to his card.  Tommy Tompson has a yellow jersey number and blue jersey number variant.  It’s mind-boggling and requires some organization to know all the variations.

Which Cards In The Set Should I Look For?

john-clement-e1621013356317-244x300 Sport Card Collecting 101: 1948 Leaf Football Kicks Off Football Card Collecting!

Perhaps it’s the quirkiness of these variants that causes the 1948 Leaf set to be more popular than its Bowman counterpart, but collectors tend to really focus on the Leaf set.  There are loads of cards to collect or invest in, but some key cards in the set include Walker, Sid Luckman, Steve Van Buren, Sammy Baugh, and Chuck Bednarik.  Common cards in the set can reach as high as $500 in higher graded tiers.  The entire set can command nearly $20,000 in lower grade tiers.

Perhaps it’s the quirkiness of these variants that causes the 1948 Leaf set to be more popular than its Bowman counterpart, but collectors tend to really focus on the Leaf set.  There are loads of cards to collect or invest in, but some key cards in the set include Walker, Sid Luckman, Steve Van Buren, Sammy Baugh, Chuck Bednarik.  Common cards in the set can reach as high as $500 in higher graded tiers.  The entire set can command nearly $20,000 in lower grade tiers.

Research And Organization Is Key

sammy-bough-e1621013539209-251x300 Sport Card Collecting 101: 1948 Leaf Football Kicks Off Football Card Collecting!This is definitely one of those sets you really have to do your research on.  Some important things to know about the set are, there are variants to individual singles, the first 49 cards in the set are more available than the last 49 cards in the set.  The last 49 cards in the set feature mostly collegiate starts and are much harder to find. The set definitely was short-printed in the higher numbers.  Finding well-centered, sharp-cornered, crease-free singles are very hard to find.  Scoop up any single from this set, common or Hall of Fame player, if you see high-grade samples.

The Leaf set was also produced with white and black cardboard stock.  So, this set is not for the faint of heart, but it is the key cornerstone set to have for Football card collectors.  Many collectors try to create a “master” set.  That is, they will try to collect every player and every variation of that player card.  As a result, the master set can result in the collector trying to put together a set totaling in excess of 130 cards instead of the 98 players listed on the checklist.sid-e1621630207714-247x300 Sport Card Collecting 101: 1948 Leaf Football Kicks Off Football Card Collecting!

Final Thoughts

All of this means this is THE set to collect or invest in when considering early football cards.  This is a “must buy” set in my search inventory.  That means if singles become available, common or otherwise, I’m bidding on them.  There is always someone trying to put a set together, invest in their favorite team or player, or upgrade their existing inventory.  So, as you begin to list the types of sport cards to pick up, this set needs to be on the list!

Hey sportscard fans, have you heard Dr. Thomas Newman’s possibly $20 million collection? Will you be bidding? Tell us in the comments!

CheckOutTheComicPriceGuide_Footer Sport Card Collecting 101: 1948 Leaf Football Kicks Off Football Card Collecting!

You may also like

Leave a Reply