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The Saltwell Files, Vol. 2: A 1960 NFL Merchandise Catalog

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Two weeks ago I ran the first installment of photos from the merch catalog collection of former Cubs executive E.R. “Salty” Saltwell, which was shared with me by Cubs historian and Uni Watch reader Ed Hartig. Today I have the second installment — and I don’t mind saying that it’s a doozy.

That first installment featured a hodgepodge of one-sheets and brochures. But today we’re going to focus on a single publication — a 1960 catalog from NFL Enterprises, which was the name of the league’s merchandising arm at the time. This is the oldest wholesale catalog of this type that I’ve ever seen, and it’s from a pivotal time in pro football history. Remember, the NFL’s first nationally televised game had just taken place in 1958, and the league’s explosion in popularity was just starting.

The catalog’s front cover is shown above. Here’s the inside front cover, which has a Lions logo I don’t recall seeing before:

Next up is an essay touting pro football as the hot new thing (as opposed to college football, which according to the essay was for the “mink coat” crowd):

Next up: Uniforms! I’m a little surprised to learn that the league was selling full youth uniform kits — including helmets, pants, and even shoulder pads! — in 1960. The jerseys were really plain, though:

Sideline capes? Got those right here:

Next comes my favorite page in the entire catalog: Hey, kids, wanna dress up as the guy who gets booed? Here’s your official ref uniform! Note that the sleeves are striped the wrong way, and the socks are actually stirrups:

The NFL was already on the bobblehead bandwagon in 1960:

Here’s an assortment of merch that’s pretty much what you’d expect — cigarette lighters, picnic sets, seat cushions, beverage glasses:

Now, finally, we get to the apparel section, beginning with these nice varsity-style jackets:

There’s also this spread devoted to other sorts of jackets, with the NFL logo on the pockets:

These shirts had team logos embroidered on the pockets, although the illustrations don’t really show them off to best advantage:

Gotta love these — NFL boxer shorts and pajamas! Sign me up:

Next up is neckwear — including bolo ties (!):

Incredibly — at least by today’s standards — there is only one page devoted to hats. But remember, this was when most men were still wearing fedoras, not ballcaps:

Next we have some kids’ apparel — jackets, sweaters, sweatshirts, and PJs:

The inside back cover has a stylized color map of the league’s TV markets:

Finally, the back cover, which you’d think would be a showcase spot, has a rather underwhelming ad for NFL blazers:


And that’s a wrap. So fascinating to see what NFL merchandising consisted of way back when!

There’s more where that came from, as we’ll see in future editions of The Saltwell Files.

(My continued thanks to reader Ed Hartig for sharing this archival content with Uni Watch.)

• • • • •

Sorry, no Ticker again today, because the whole crew had yesterday off. The Ticker will return tomorrow.

Shout-out to longtime reader and pal Jeff Ash, who’s recovering from retina surgery. Here’s to a smooth and speedy recovery, Jeff! — Paul

Comments (38)

    The 1958 NFL Championship Game was NOT the first nationally televised NFL game. DuMont had televised the NFL Championship Game nationwide starting in 1951.

    The 1958 game was the most famous, but there had been nationally televised NFL games prior to that.

    If DuMont wasn’t a big enough network (they only had 32 affiliates in 1949), NBC started televising the NFL title game starting in 1955; those were nationally televised. All pre-dated The Greatest Game Ever Played.

    Even before that, the Thanksgiving Day game between the Packers and Lions on Nov. 24, 1955 was televised nationally by ABC.


    Roy Rogers is listed as president of NFL Enterprises, and a Beverly Hills address is listed for the general office. Could it be the singing cowboy?

    Roy Rogers´ licensing organization/marketing arm is referenced in the essay, and there is a photo above the ¨Something Different¨ portion of the essay shows (I think) Roy and also Pete Rozelle.

    They had just moved to St. Louis starting with 1960 season. Perhaps they had not established St, Louis HQ yet?

    Might explain why the Cardinals are in the Eastern Conference and Baltimore is in the Western Conference. Probably didn’t want to have 2 Chicago teams in the same conference.

    Putting the two Chicago teams in different conferences insured that all NFL teams played road games in the city. Fans would be interested in both conferences. Both teams were in the Western Division in the late 40’s, till 1949.

    Baltimore took the Dallas Texans place in 1953 in what would be called the Western Conf., plus the one-season, precious Baltimore Colts were also in that conference in 1950.

    This is way, WAY ahead of its time. Not just for the NFL but for all pro sports. No wonder the early sixties was essentially the moment when football took over as the national game.

    So much to nitpick. Thanks to put the whole catalog on the forum. 1st thing I noticed was not a uniform thing, but a mailing issue. Does anyone know of the origin of the numbers after the city name. Its almost like a Zip Code (pre Zip Code and postal state code 1963). Someone confirm if I am on the right track. And if so why in some cities and not others. Thanks.

    Development of ZIP codes was concurrent with the two state abbreviations. Here’s an awesome comedy bit on how the states got their 2 letter abbreviations.


    Same here. In 1960, NFL teams were free to contract with TV stations in their geographic region. I’m from Rochester, NY and there are still a lot of Browns fans there, given that virtually every game was televised (Rochester was outside the 75 mile blackout zone).

    Wikipedia says that in 1960, NBC had the rights to Steelers and Colts games, with the Browns having their own ad-hoc network – but the list appears to be nothing but CBS affiliates, including the stations under the Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland headings.

    Must be magic to go to bed with your significant other who’s wearing NFL PJ’s…

    Great article. My younger brother and I received those ‘grid kits’ from my Aunt and Uncle for Christmas gifts one year. I had the Colts and my brother got the Eagles. They were pretty decent quality.

    I was really hoping to see the vintage St. Louis Cardinals (Big Red) necktie that I wore to my first Uni Watch gathering (St. Louis, 2007).
    It has received its fair share of airtime on this site.

    ¨..a Lions logo I don’t recall seeing before¨
    Pennywise the Lion?

    I wonder if Washington and Chicago fought hard against expansion/merger, seeing that their spheres of influence in the TV markets were so vast.

    Yes, Washington owner George Preston Marshall opposed Dallas coming into the NFL because he didn’t want any competition in the South, which he considered to be his territory. (The last line of the Washington fight song originally was “Fight for Old Dixie” before being changed to “Fight for Old DC.”). This is one of the reasons for the bitter rivalry between the Cowboys and the team currently known as the Commanders. Also: Because Marshall was such a blatant racist, many African Americans in DC adopted the Cowboys as their team. They passed their fandom down to their kids, and this is one reason why there are still many Cowboy fans in the DC area.

    I don’t know about Chicago, but the guy who ran Washington was VERY anti-expansion to the American south. He insisted it was his territory.


    A couple observations regarding this incredible artifact!…

    First off, those NFL sideline jackets are phenomenal… The red NY Giants jacket was my “white whale” for years! It’s now for sale from Ebbets Field Flannels for $595 (listed at 14.95 in the catalog!!). Incredible!!

    Secondly, I absolutely love the TV regional map! Pre-Boston Patriots, the Football Giants dominated New England! I always remember my Dad telling me stories that there were NY Giants fan clubs in Mass. and Maine!

    I’m shocked that there are no Cleveland stations listed as a Cleveland station!

    In the early 60s we in Massachusetts got all 14 NY Giants games on TV and only 7 Patriots (road) games on TV as home games were blacked out. The Pats played home games on Friday night to avoid competing with the Giants TV games on Sunday afternoons.

    As surprised as you are, Paul, that “uniforms” were being marketed to kids in 1960, I’m more surprised that branded pajamas and underwear were being marketed to adults at that time.

    Also, it must absolutely kill modern Vikings fans to see so many Minnesota TV stations carrying Packers games!

    Right? Just imagining the station ID, “WCCO, your home for Packers football,” weirds me out, as someone who grew up in the 1980s with a dad who worked for ‘CCO.

    Always fascinating, these catalogs. What I find especially mesmerizing is that retailers ordered merchandise from drawn pictures as an example, not from actual photographs. The goods they ordered could turn out looking very differently. I love that yawning bear logo (or is he growling) and I always look at the addresses of the suppliers in these catalogs: some were located in the Empire State Building. And a raincoat company named Dolphin. This is such good stuff.

    What is the name of the artist on that catalogue? Can’t read it clearly…
    It is amazing…surely, they were not exclusive to “sports art”?

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