Posts Tagged ‘Spalding’s Football Guide’

Pop Warner’s Correspondence Course

March 14, 2012

While preparing the Spalding’s Guides for reprinting, I noticed ads for Pop Warner’s book in the backs of several of them. On closer inspection, I noticed that they changed a bit from year to year. Today, I will discuss these ads in sequence from when they first appeared to when they disappeared and conjecture why the ads no longer ran.
The first ad that I found appeared in the 1908 Spalding’s Guide. It is probably not a coincidence that 1908 was the year in which Warner released his then untitled correspondence course on football. The ad was boldly titled “EXPERT FOOT BALL COACHING FOR $10.” The text-intensive advertisement made the case for the need for such a book by stating that the new rules in place since 1906 “…have so radically changed the game that all writings or books on the subject are practically of no use.” Warner’s credentials as an experienced, innovative coach: “The originator of this plan is Glenn S. Warner, who has acted as Head Coach of prominent foot ball teams for the past thirteen years, and whose coaching and training enabled the Carlisle Indians to make such a remarkable record last year, and to be given credit for playing the most scientific and up-to-date game of any team since the adoption of the new rules. Mr. Warner has for many years been most successful in teaching the open game and there is no one in the field today who is better qualified to carry out this plan than he.”
The ad goes on to describe how Warner’s correspondence was organized as a set of pamphlets or letters on a number of subjects. The first group of subjects were aimed at teaching players how to best play the game and were sold or $5 as Group One. The pamphlets covering equipment, strategies, signals, formations and plays among other things comprise Group Two. Coaches, captains and teams would buy the entire course, including both groups, for $10. Warner promised to start sending the pamphlets around September 15, the traditional start of practice at that time.

Mystery Solved

December 19, 2011

This summer, I began reprinting Spalding’s Football guides for the years relevant to the Carlisle Indian School football program through Tuxedo Press. Carlisle played intercollegiate football from 1893 to 1917 (a 1918 schedule was arranged but never played due to the closing of the school). These books contain a plethora of information useful to historians and rabid fans. Originals are expensive and fragile, factors which limit their utility. Inexpensive paperback reprints that can be abused are much more practical for non-collectors.

Reprinting these books has been more complicated than expected. When someone asked me if a particular book was the eastern or western edition, I couldn’t answer him. Not only didn’t I know, I couldn’t tell by looking at the book. Looking at other years’ editions didn’t help either. David DeLausses, administrator of, has a nearly complete collection of Spalding Football guides but didn’t know how to tell the eastern and western editions apart. He did know that Spalding started printing the two editions in 1906. Prior to that, Spalding published a single edition covering the entire country.

 I bought an original 1917 Spalding guide but couldn’t tell which edition it was and found no one who could. While preparing the 1917 book for publication, I noticed a small E on the front cover in a white block just below a drawing of players running a play (see below).


 Thinking the E might designate Eastern Edition, I emailed David DeLausses to get his opinion. As luck would have it, he was away from home on a business trip and, thus, couldn’t check against his copies. Upon his return, after looking at his guides, he responded,

“This is a great find.  From 1911-1918 Spalding Guides I can see either an “E” or a “W” on the front cover.  My 1917 Guide has a W.  I will be first in line to get a copy of your 1917 “E” version.  

I did not see similar markings for other years than 1911-1918.  I will have to spend some time looking closer.”

We still don’t know exactly what the differences in the two editions are, but comparing the two 1917 editions page by page should shed some light on this mystery.

Reprints of Early Spalding’s Football Guides Now Available

August 19, 2011

A. G. Spalding’s football guides from the early days of college football are excellent sources of information for football historians and researchers. Unfortunately, these books are now quite old and fragile, a factor that severely limits their use as research tools. To make matters worse, they have become rare enough that, when copies appear for sale, they are quite expensive.

Seeing the need for inexpensive copies of these highly useful books, Tuxedo Press is reprinting them in paperback form as they previously did for what they call Pop Warner’s Single-Wing Trilogy. Coaches, researchers and historians have found the Warner books so useful that Tuxedo Press is doing the same thing for Spalding’s Official Football Guides for the years 1883 to 1919 as copies of these books become available to them to reprint in paperback form.

Because the years from 1883 to 1893 were very small, they are bound as a single volume. Beginning with 1899, the next year Tuxedo press has found so far, each year is printed separately because those volumes are much larger. Besides the rule changes for the upcoming season, an annual volume includes Walter Camp’s three All-America team selections for the previous season, other critics picks for their All-America teams, assessments of the various teams’ successes for the previous season and outlook for the upcoming season. These books are filled with illustrated ads for Spalding equipment. The equipment illustrations could be very useful in researching the evolution of helmets and such.

More information can be found at The reprints of the Spalding’s Guides are also available through on-line resellers and can be ordered by your local bookstore.