Skip to content

The Saltwell Files, Vol. 3: A 1964 NFL Merchandise Catalog

Posted in:

Good morning! We have a loooong lede today, beginning with our latest look at 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. Last time around we looked at a 1960 NFL merch catalog; this time we’re skipping ahead four years to 1964.

The catalog’s cover, shown above, is notable for several reasons:

  • They really soft-pedaled the typography.
  • So much white space!
  • They went with the now-familiar helmet icons to represent the teams. There was nothing like that in the 1960 catalog — not as part of the catalog itself and not on any of the merch items. I’d be interested in checking out the 1961, ’62, and ’63 catalogs just to see when they started doing that, because it really changed the course of sports marketing.

Here’s the inside front cover (I really like the photo they chose) and the first page, which features a note from then-commish Pete Rozelle:

The next several pages are basically about the NFL tooting its own horn about having emerged as a national powerhouse, beginning with this note from the head of NFL Properties:

Next, in the same vein, is a section called “Behind the NFL Sports Boom,” which is more horn-tooting and a preview of the merch lines featured in the catalog:

Next is a two-page spread promoting Punt, Pass and Kick — something that wasn’t mentioned at all in the 1960 catalog (according to Wikipedia, PP&K debuted in 1961):

Then comes a spread about the league’s publishing partnerships. For the page on the left, note all the different facemask styles that they showed, instead of making them all the same. They even showed the white plastic Rawlings mask that the Bears favored at the time:

Next: The Lombardi Trophy is famously made by Tiffany’s, but in 1964 the league’s “official trophy maker” was Josten’s:

Now, finally, we get to the “Merchandising Section,” which begins with a hilarious page brought to us by Du Pont — “Better things for better living … through chemistry”:

Check out the teeny-tiny chest logos on these polo shirts:

On this next page, check out the “Official Slack Fabric” tag in the lower-left corner — never seen that “NFL” lettering before:

Speaking of “NFL” lettering, check out this next page, which shows the league’s familiar stylized lettering without the usual surrounding shield:

Update: Reader/commenter Randy Daviston points out that the company name, which is presumably Kayser-Roth Hosiery, is misspelled as Hoisery.

Next comes a bunch of apparel options — all presented with illustrations instead of photos:

Here’s something I’ve never seen before: NFL playing cards! Sign me up:

You want uniforms? They’ve got uniforms (well, at least for kids):

Did you know you could achieve physical fitness simply by using some gimmicky contraption for 60 seconds a day while wearing an NFL shirt? Sounds plausible to me:

Here’s a bunch of assorted stuff that mostly seems to speak for itself, so I won’t waste your time with any additional commentary:

I’m not sure when the first NFL lunchboxes started appearing, but they had some doozies in 1964 (and check out the ref’s signals on the Thermos!):

I didn’t know that bobbleheads were once made by a company called Bobbie Enterprises, which makes any other bobblehead maker’s name sound insufficient by comparison:

I’ve seen transistor radios before, but I’m not sure I’ve seen a transistorized radio until now:

Check out these team flags, made by, of course, the “official flag maker to the NFL”:

Here are the inside back cover and the back cover:

Finally, this catalog also includes a separate brochure with all the product pricing:


And that’s a wrap! We’ll have more content from the Saltwell files soon.

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



Vertically Arched Fantasy

I was doing a bit of vintage shopping yesterday and came across this jersey that had apparently been used in a 1985 Phillies fantasy camp. Love the vertically arched lettering on the long-ish surname — magnificent! Here’s a closer look at the sleeve patch:

And here’s the front view:

Pretty cool, right?



Off-the-Cuff History

This photo of the 1939 Boston Bees (the same franchise that currently plays in Atlanta) appeared in Friday’s Ticker, but you may have missed — as I did — a remarkable detail. Look closely and you can see that the jersey sleeves had 1970s-style striping on the sleeve cuffs. “I’ve never seen anything like this on old flannel uniforms — ever,” says our own Scott M.X. Turner. “My mind’s kinda blown.” Mine too!



ITEM! St. Paddy's-Themed Raffle

With St. Paddy’s Day fast approaching, reader Chris Hickey is generously sponsoring a really good raffle. The lucky winner will win all of the following:

  • A Uni Watch T-Shirt Club tee from March 2015 (shown above). “It didn’t fit me,” says Chris.  “Though tagged L, it’s more of a M, so I’ve never worn it.  It’s in great shape.”
  • A Uni Watch Pin Club pin from March 2020.
  • Two Uni Watch koozies (“One for each hand,” says Chris).
  • A Uni Watch magnet (winner’s choice of design).
  • A one-year subscription to my Substack.

This will be a two-day raffle. USA shipping addresses only. To enter, send an email with your shipping address and magnet choice to the raffle in-box by 9pm Eastern tomorrow, March 7. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday. Big thanks to Chris for sponsoring this one!



Too Good for the Ticker

This photo is from a 1950s game in Finland. My god, those uniforms! Anyone wanna take a shot at colorizing this one?

(Mega-thanks to Will Scheibler for sharing this one with us.)



Can of the Day

You probably don’t think of ice cream as a product that’s packaged in metal cans, but that used to be the case. This beautiful artifact is a particularly nice example of the form. I especially like the snow-capped “Ice Cream” lettering.

This can is pretty reasonably priced. I considered purchasing it to house one of my houseplants, but I decided that it probably wouldn’t look quite as good without the dark-green lid, so I held off.

• • • • •

Happy Purim to all who are celebrating tonight. — Paul

Comments (36)

    Interesting that there was no logo on the Redskins helmet. I wonder if they were switching helmets and the new one was not finalized in time?

    Great lede; I love these old catalogs! Not only did they show the Bears with a Rawlings facemask they showed them with a Rawlings (or Wilson or MacGregor) helmet on both the cover and that interior artwork. But they either didn’t get the memo or this was published before the Rams made their 1964 uniform changes – dropping the yellow and using white horns on the helmets. Situations like that are probably why they have the long lead times for introducing new uniforms.

    “The catalog’s cover, shown above, is notable for several reasons”

    – While all the other teams are shown with a single-bar face mask, the Bears helmet has a plastic double-bar.

    Odd thing I noticed on the cover — the star on the Cowboys’ helmet is high enough that it’s distorted to account for the curvature of the helmet. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a drawing/logo that presented it that way. (Clearly a real phot will show some effect, but I think the star has generally been lowered a bit to reduce the distortion.)

    Also is the Cowboys helmet still white (kind of shadowed white like how they show the Colts helmet) or did the try to recolor it to their silver-blue but it turned out very light? Like the Rams the Cowboys changed uniforms for 1964, and until 1967 the blue star only had a white outline.

    If I ran across that Phillies’ jersey in a used clothing store, I might have fainted!

    Haven’t seen NFL playing cards like those shown in today’s post, but have seen decks with the mid-’60s Dave Boss team paintings on them.

    The vertically arched NOB on the Phillies jersey is such a sight to behold. I’m saddened by the fact that it has fallen so out of favor these days. Paul, I hope you explore this topic with equipment managers or whoever makes the decisions on NOB lettering.

    I’m sure it must have been a challenge to do vertically arched NOBs back in the day, but surely there is a solution at hand through technology to do this more easily.

    You have no idea how right you are, Terry. To do vertically arched lettering layouts now takes about 20 seconds on the drawing program I use at my shop. When I do baseball or softball (and when I can talk them into it, basketball) uniforms, the names are ALWAYS vertically arched. I don’t know of many stores or printing shops who still do it, but we cut our own materials and it’s just as easy to make it look great instead of like everyone else.

    Awesome entry today. So much stuff to dissect. As a Washington fan it was cool to see the feather helmet without the side logo.

    It’s kind of interesting, out of 14 teams, only Washington and Philadelphia are radically different. 60 years later the rest are still identical or reflect minor logo tweaks only.

    I’m fairly sure the cover helmets are photos of actual helmets. They’re clearly not the line-art icons we’re all familiar with, and the details just look too good for them to all be drawn, particularly with the positioning of each helmet, the chinstraps, the face bars, and the Bears being represented by a completely different style of helmet.

    It is interesting to note that the Cowboys still have their white helmet on the cover, while the 49ers have switched to their gold helmet. The Cowboys wouldn’t make the switch to their silver helmets on the field until the regular season.

    That shot of the Steeler v Browns is interesting. First, seeing the Steelers’ former yellow lids, but also the sleeve treatment. It’s hard to see, and I didn’t even knew they had that sleeve design in the ’60s, but the Gridiron Dbase shows they had a design sort of like what I would call the classic (and best) Jets sleeve look. That is, there’s a large yellow space below the shoulder with the number, and black/yellow striping below it. It would be hard to do today since nobody seems to want sleeves anymore, but I’d love to see that on the field!

    That photo must be from their 11/25/62 game:
    Would have made for a good GTGFTU entry!

    Awesome content today! I could not love those Saltwell catalogues more than I do. I collect sports board games but I have never heard of the one made by Lowell shown in the catalogue. I must find it! Somebody has to buy that gorgeous Phillies jersey! Finally, the Can of the Day is a great addition to my daily uni-fix.

    The two teams in the Finnish hockey photo are Hämeenlinna Tarmo (they haven’t had an ice hockey team since the mid 1970’s), and KalPa (Kalevan Pallo).

    Tarmo may have used white, blue, and red as their colours then:

    KalPa (the team with the striped shoulders) was very likely still gold and black back then:

    That switch on the “transistorized” radio seems pretty handy that automatically tunes to the team’s flagship radio station seems handy… until the contract comes up for renewal and the broadcasts move to a different station.

    Ugh, obviously that first part should read “That switch on the ‘transistorized’ radio that automatically tunes to the team’s flagship radio station seems handy…”

    Kinda crazy: Of the 13 helmets on the cover, 11 are the same (basically) in 2023! Maybe some different colors or a logo tweak, but all are the same or similar, except Washington and the Rams (and even then, it’s still the curved ram horn design).

    The 1964 Broadcasting deal with CBS at $28 Million is $270 Million in today’s money, based upon the US Inflation Calculator.
    The rights deal across all media beginning in 2023 is $10 Billion a year for the NFL…


    Oh, those lunchboxes! And with the officials’ signals on the thermos! I was (and am) an officials nerd (baseball umpires now but football officials as a kid) and would have died for one of those kits.

    Lou “The Toe” Groza kicking a field goal on the back if the Quarterback lunchbox with Bill Wade from the Bears as the QB.

    As a St. Patrick’s Day baby, I am really kicking myself for not ordering a St. Patrick’s Day shirt. Not sure what I was thinking. As a Spanish teacher, I do look forward to Cinco de mayo each year to proudly wear my UniWatch shirt!

    These catalogs continue to shine in these posts. So many nice things to see. Most of these ads would look so good, framed and hanging on the wall. My favorite is the JP Stevens ad, there is a cool and suave calmness to the drawing that is in total contrast with the average NFL sideline atmosphere.
    As of the tin can find, you can place that nice green lid under the can while putting a plant in it. I love it that vanilla flavor is advertised in green instead of yellow. Green for icecream I associate with pistacchio flavor.

    I was struck by the page in one of the galleries showing the “NFL All-Stars” statuettes, particularly the one for “Jimmy” Brown of the Cleveland Browns. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him called anything but Jim, but this catalog was published the year I was born so maybe Jimmy Brown was a common reference back then.

Comments are closed.