Over the rich history of soccer collecting, there have been many different styles of cards and stickers produced. In Argentina, for example, cardboard discs were extremely popular, while in England, the majority of soccer collectibles were tobacco cards similar to U.S. collecting at the time. Every country adapted their collections to their own styles and cultures, which has led to incredible sets to collect all across the world. To honor some of these sets, I have chosen five of my favorite legendary vintage soccer sets.
1970 Panini World Cup Mexico 70
While the FIFA World Cup has been played since 1930, no one company ever owned the global rights to the tournament until Panini began producing stickers for the tournament in 1970. Panini, a relatively new company at that time, began producing the stickers with different back variations, including the green, red and blue, multi-language, and the BisValida backs, which were redeemed for prizes by customers who turned the stickers back to the company. The iconic design of the set, coupled with the international players and distribution, created a cult-like following which continues to this day. Panini still owns the rights to the World Cup and prints millions of stickers every four years in what is a global collecting event that coincides with the most watched tournament in the world. The 1970 set includes all-time greats such as: Pelé, Beckenbauer, Eusebio, Muller and more.
1938 Konig Fussball
If there is one set that has similarities to the T206 set in baseball, it would be the 1938 Konig Fussball set from Germany. This set, which was released regionally throughout the country, features an incredible gold-foil border and includes bold dual-colored frames that perfectly encapsulate images of soccer stars from Germany and across the globe. Like the T206 set, the Konig’s have multiple back variations, with at least 17 different variations (with four to five main ones) having been found so far, which makes collecting the “rainbow” a fun challenge. These variations add another level of collecting for full set, sub-set, and player set builders. This set is uncommon, but there are still plenty of copies out there for soccer collectors to find. Some of the great players in this set include Dixie Dean, Jose Nasazzi, Mathias Sindelar, Fernando Peyroteo, and Dr. Sarosi.
1962 Editora Vecchi Futebol Mundial and Lampo Calcio Mondiale
One of the most well-known designs among soccer collectors are the 1962 Vecchi and Lampo Calcio flag border sets from Brazil and Italy, respectively. These albums, which were created for the 1962 World Cup hosted in Chile, boast country flags that make up the left and bottom borders of the stickers, which create an unbelievably beautiful frame for full-color pictures of players. Along with the stickers of players there are team stickers for all past winners of the FIFA World Cups. The easiest way to distinguish between the two sets is that the Brazilian version features the sticker number on the back with player information, while the Italian Lampo series features a blank back. Some of the key players in this set include Pelé, Garrincha, Didi, Bobby Charlton, Lev Yashin, and Alfredo Di Stefano.
1909-11 Cope Bros. & Co. Ltd. Noted Footballers
From 1909 to 1911, the Cope Bros. & Co. Ltd, a private limited company based in Liverpool and London, released three different sets of tobacco cards that featured soccer players from English clubs. Through the three-year period, the company released three different series: 120 Pictures; 282 Pictures; and Nearly 500 Pictures. This set boasts interesting intricacies, such as cards 274 to 282, which were not actually issued in the 282 Pictures series, but ended up in the Nearly 500 series instead. These cards, while thinner than most comparable tobacco cards at the time, boast an incredible baby blue border with a black-and-white portrait of the featured player in the middle. Some of the key players in this set include Steve Bloomer, Billy Meredith, and ‘Wee’ Jock Simpson.
The Tinghalls set was created in Sweden for the 1950 World Cup and features multiple countries and club teams. There are more than three different back variations that were based on manufacturing location that add to the difficulty of collecting all of the players’ variations. Production issues due to a rushed timeline led to many spelling errors, wrong photos used and poor production quality. Despite this, the cards hold significant value and desirability among collectors due to their rarity, checklist, and the fact that it commemorates one of the most memorable World Cups in history. Some of the most notable players in the set include Zizinho, Ademir, Jair, Leonidas, Alcides Ghiggia, Telmo Zarra, and all of the USA National Team players including Joe Gaetens.
Do you agree or disagree with these sets? Please email [email protected] to tell us your thoughts.
In order for collectors to memorialize their endeavors in finding items from these five sets, PSA has created a Set Registry set for all of them. Enjoy your soccer collecting pursuits.