Believe it or not, the Australian Football League, in one form or another, has been around since the late 1800s.
And even though there are no major teams outside of the sport’s home nation, AFL cards have become one of the most valuable sports collectibles in the world.
It’s not just the pre-1900s cards that sell for big bucks either, but many of the modern cards too. In fact, each year of releases sees at least a few cards break into the stratosphere in terms of value.
But the Australian Football league isn’t the only AFL in sports history.
Known playfully as “the other league” due to its short lived 10-year tenure, the American Football League also paved the wave for some amazing, not to mention valuable, sports cards.
So, to make sure nobody who finds this post is disappointed, I’m going to cover cards pertaining to both sports!
Valuable Australian Football League “Footy” Cards
Let’s begin with some of the footy cards going for small fortunes at auction.
2021 Dustin Martin 24K — Cardcraft, AFL Teamcoach Gold
This card features Dustin Martin executing some ball carrying excellence in a black and white jersey. It has a matte bronze background and a glossy golden frame, making it feel extra special.
As it could only be acquired through the Teamcoach website by sending off various qualifying items, this is a particularly rare card, which is why it’s so valuable for its age.
How valuable, you ask? Well, what if I told you that it now sells at auction for just shy of $2000 — And that’s US dollars, too!
Needless to say, if you have this glorious piece of sports memorabilia hidden away somewhere in your collection, make sure you take good care of it. It’s certain to go up in value from here on out.
1963 VFL Graham Arthur — Scanlens
This card is from the first footy card series released by the infamous chewing gum brand, Scanlens, way back when.
Although a pack of Scanlens gum probably only cost a few cents at the time of this Graham Arthur card’s release, it will now set a collector back $1125 Australian dollars (just shy of $800 US).
While this is technically a VFL card rather than an AFL card, little but the name has changed about the professional Australian Rules Football league, so I’m allowing it in this list.
1894 (Pre VFL) Will Crebbin — American Tobacco Company
A couple of years before the founding of the VFL, the American Tobacco Company released a card series featuring Australian celebrities, one of which was Australian rules football star Will Crebbin, an Essendon player of great talent.
As one of the first footy cards ever produced, this is a real piece of sporting history, and it is as rare as they come. The latest known specimen to go up for auction was in 2018 when it sold for $10,110 Aus (about 7K US).
2021 Scott Pendlebury — Cardcraft, AFL Teamcoach Gold
Here’s another gold-framed teamcoach special edition, this time depicting the monster of the sport that is Scott Pendlebury.
Serving as the Collingwood captain for nearing a decade at this point, there’s no doubt that Pendlebury will go down in history as a legend of the game, which is part of the reason this card is worth some serious paper!
It’s hard to give a specific value to this card, as it seems to have been subject to market fluctuation as of late, but, to give you a general idea, you could expect to sell or pick this card up for anywhere between $500–$900.
Most Valuable American Football League Cards
The league may have only existed from 1960 to 1970, but you can print a heck of a lot of cards in a decade, so let’s take a look at which ones are scoring big at auction.
1965 Joe Namath — Topps #122
Okay, so if you thought those footy card prices were ridiculous, I think you should sit down for this one. The 1965 AFL Joe Namath card from stalwarts of the industry, Topps, will likely sell for between $4475 and, wait for it… $264,000!
The average price of this card in middling condition is between $30,000 and $40,000. If you have one of these bad boys somewhere, for the love of Joe, put it in a safe immediately. It’ll put your kids through college and then some.
One of the reasons this card does such good numbers is that it’s considered the only example of a Namath rookie card in existence, and as I’m sure you’re aware, rookie cards often sell for supercar prices.
1963 Lance Alworth — Fleer Football #72
We take a big step down in terms of price tag with this awesome 63 Topps card featuring Lance Worth in his Chargers colors, running with ball in hand. A good condition specimen will typically sell for something to the tune of $1000 — it’s not exactly lotto figures, but it’s still a lot of money.
1968 Joe Namath — Topps #65
We’re back with Namath for my third installment, but this one isn’t quite as unattainable. To snag a perfect condition example of this card, you’d need to fork out just shy of $2K. It features Joe in his Jets jersey, preparing to throw the pigskin.
1966 Bo Robertson — Tops #83
Bo Robertson was a monstrous player, so it’s really no surprise that this 66 Topps card is so desirable amongst hardcore collectors. It depicts Robertson in his Dolphins colors carrying the ball like a pro, a look of calm determination on his face.
To stare eye to eye with Bo in the flesh (or in the card, anyway), you’d have to fork out a rather sizable $500 to $600, which is by no means pocket change. That’s for a PSA 9, though. PSA 10, will cost significantly more.
And there you have it — 4 of the most valuable AFL footy cards, followed by 4 of the most valuable AFL American football cards, with the 65 Joe Namath rookie card from Topps taking the top spot with a lofty price of $264,000 dollars (US).
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