1906 High Grade/Rare Pennsylvania Military College Sepia Tone Oval Fabric Type 1 Photo on Gold
Embossed Cabinet Mount (MEARS LOA)
This item will be a featured lot in the MEARS August 25th-September 1st, 2012 Auction,
www.mearsonlineauctions.com . Consignments wanted for our next auction.
As fall approaches and football season is about to begin, collectors have a short window to evaluate
their collecting goals for the remainder of 2012. One area that has unlimited potential upside is vintage
football memorabilia. I define vintage football memorabilia as non professional league items.
Rooted in 150+ years of history, early football collectables are readily available and quite affordable at
current pricing levels. Items that have the best upside are collectables that are directly tied to a noted
team or institution.
Offered for consideration is a very rare style oval fabric covered photograph of a team with early
football history. While researching this 1906 team, much history was revealed which provided insight
into the early game of football and its influence on the future of the Pennsylvania Military College.
This author felt that the background information was both interesting and important to understanding
the historic and collectable value of this item.
During 1862, the military academy relocated from Wilmington to West Chester, PA. In 1868, the
academy again relocated to its present location in Chester, PA. Located on 108 acres southwest of
Philadelphia, its stated aim was “The development of character to secure greatest efficiency”. One of its
most famous alumni was legendary film director, Cecil B. DeMille.
It was shortly after that football came to the academy. During its early days, the school was known
as “the Pennsylvania Military Academy.” While continuing my research, the following was taken from
the Widener University Archives Collection…
On November 11th, 1879 the first intercollegiate football game took place in Chester, PA.
The Chester Times reported, “The football match between the University boys and the cadets of P.M.
A. on Saturday did not end favorably to the latter. The University gained the victory by a score of six to
nothing. They were too heavy for the cadets and have had a great deal more experience. It was short,
sharp, and decisive. The cadets entertained the victors with a good supper and drove them to and from
the depot in a carriage”.
The article further goes on to explain the events of the day, “The cadets who battled Penn that day
in their skin tight canvas jackets were the forerunners in a sport that would produce much color and
heroism at the Chester school as the years wore on. “
An even more graphic account of the early days of PMA and the players was chronicled by Major John
w. Loveland, ’87, who wrote:
“In those days the games were not the complicated ones of today. The plays were simple, the strategy,
elementary. No tackling below the waist, which made the straight arm defense of the runner most
effective. It was not unusual to see such a master of this particular trick, as Macaulay Hunter ’86 – leave
three or four successive tacklers put out as he galloped triumphantly down the field. “
During 1887, P.M.A. played the college football powerhouse Princeton University. As early as it may
have been to detect, early football plays were set in motion by having the team’s captain call out the
name of the player who was to receive the ball. In 1887, when the Princeton team came to Chester
to clash with P.M.A. (the cadets were still not permitted to play away from home) the captain of
the cadet squad called out the cadet numbers of his players rather than their names. The effect was
bewildering to Princeton and enabled the cadets to make substantial gains. Princeton was quick to see
the advantages of the new system, and shortly thereafter began using numbers instead of names.
The article continues to note,
Football in the nineties had finally come to be recognized as a major college sport, and even the most
hardened administrators were forced to make concessions. The fact that P.M.A. teams of the ‘90s were
enjoying winning seasons made it even more difficult to ignore the popularity of this rough and tumble
P.M.A. continued to gain football success. During the 1888 campaign, the team went undefeated and
untied, and even more impressive, un-scored upon during the entire 9 game schedule.
In 1892, PMA became Pennsylvania Military College (PMC). By the turn of the century a move was afoot
to also change the school’s colors from blue and white to red and yellow, and the change took place in
According to the school newspaper, the varsity color change was well received, “such jerseys as
these will make a startling combination of chromatic splendor, and the cadets will have rather an
impressionistic appearance when they trot out on the gridiron for their first game.”
During the early 1900s, football continued to remain quite popular at PMC. Players that were not cut
out to make the actual team readily volunteered for the “scrub” or practice team. Just being associated
with the program was good enough for them as they resolved themselves to be living practice/tackling
dummies for the varsity team.
I found the background history quite interesting as I researched the actual item. Measuring 5”x7”, the
actual image is oval with the photographic image printed on a cloth covering, which is rarely seen in
high grade and was an relatively expense process when compared to alternate photo printing methods.
The oval photo is then mounted on an 8”x10” gold embossed scripted decorative cardboard mount. A
ribbon, (red, white, yellow) represent the team colors and is found mounted in the upper left corner.
Although printed in sepia tone, the uniforms depicted would have been red and yellow in color, as noted
in the article and matching the accompanying team colored ribbon.
13 uniformed players are depicted, along with one man in full cadet uniform. The gentleman on the far
right in the middle row is wearing civilian clothes and overcoat. Players are seated in front of a brick
The image depicts a wealth of football memorabilia references. Four players are wearing vest and
reeded pants. They are topped off with beehive rain cap helmets. 3 players are found wearing sewn on
All are wearing reeded shin guards and football cleats, most likely wooden. The player in the front row
far right is holding an 8-spoke helmet. The player in the center of the second row is holding a melon
style football and wearing a full length dark colored jersey top. “P.M.C 1906” appears on the bottom.
The actual photo remains in near mint condition. The gilded cardboard mount has a light crack in the
bottom right corner. There is additional wear to the outer edges of the mount. The gold gilding is
complete. Item has been fully inspected and is guaranteed to be 100% authentic and vintage to the 1906
era. LOA Troy R. Kinunen / MEARS Auctions
MEARS Auctions is aggressively seeking quality football memorabilia which includes:
Vintage Football Memorabilia
Vintage Leather Football Helmet including:
4 spoke helmet
8 spoke helmet
Dog ear helmet
Grange Style helmet
Flat top helmet
Princeton style helmet
Football Vest and reeded or quilted football pants
For free appraisal or consultation, please contact Troy R. Kinunen at (414)-828-9990 or email