The 1962 Salada Coins football set might be one of the more underrated vintage sets from the 1960s.
Similar to the baseball coin set from the same year, the Salada set was available in packages of Salada Tea and Junket Dessert products. The 154-coin set was loaded with stars from the NFL, with Hall of Famers like Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown, Bart Starr, Y.A. Tittle, Chuck Bednarik, Lenny Moore, Paul Hornung, Ollie Matson and more.
Here is a quick history of the Salada and Junket products. Both have deep roots dating from the 19th century.
Peter Larkin founded Salada Tea in 1892 and developed the idea of selling the product in foil packages inside tin boxes. He exported the tea from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
Junket Pudding, meanwhile, was first made in Denmark in 1874, when Christian D.A. Hansen founded a laboratory to produce rennet extract for the cheese-making industry. But the dessert has an even deeper history, introduced during the Middle Ages and evolving from a French dish called “jonquet.” The whey from renneted cream was drained from curdled cream and the remaining curds were sweetened with sugar.
Many recall the nursery rhyme of Little Miss Muffet eating her curds and whey. Undoubtedly she was eating Junket Pudding, which was brought to the U.S. in 1878 by Danish dairyman Johan D. Frederiksen.
Each package of Salada or Junket had one coin to a box, making it a difficult set to complete — unless your family happened to drink a lot of tea and eat a lot of pudding.
Each coin measures 1½ inches in diameter and was color-coded by team.
The coin fronts feature a head-and-shoulders photograph of the player, with many minus their football helmets. Tittle’s photograph features the Giants quarterback wearing his helmet.
The backs are numbered and feature advertisements from Salada or Junket. The backs also contain brief biographical sketches of the players, including the colleges they played for.
The set has a whopping 37 Hall of Famers in it–nearly one out of every four coins. Other memorable names include Jim Taylor, Forrest Gregg, Billy Kilmer, John Brodie, Bobby Layne, Alex Karras, Sonny Jurgensen, Sam Huff and Don Maynard.
Many of the coins were double-printed, with some of them even triple-printed. All 11 of the Packers players in the set, for example, are double-printed. Vince Lombardi’s squad had won the NFL title in 1961 and would do so again in ’62. The uncut sheets from which they were produced included 255 coins–a full set and the extras.
Brown’s coin is triple-printed and that’s likely why prices are fairly reasonable compared to other Brown cards from his time in the league. Interestingly, the photo used by Salada is a tight action shot, which is unusual among the other issues.
For a set of coins that are now 60 years old, there are a surprising number of them in high grade.
PSA has graded 5,698 Salada football coins in all. Many of them can be found in higher grades, with 739 coins coming in at Gem Mint 10. More than 4,800 have achieved grades of PSA 8 or higher.
There are six players with double-digit gem mint coins.
Green Bay Packers linebacker Dan Currie (coin No. 15) has the most PSA 10s, with 14, Teammate and Hall of Fame quarterback Starr (No. 18) has 12, tied with Boston Patriots flanker Jim Colclough (No. 130).
Only three other players have gem mint coins in double figures, with 10 — Baltimore Colts Hall of Fame receiver Raymond Berry (No. 7), Patriots halfback Ron Burton (No. 129) and New York Titans (now Jets) safety Lee Riley.
There are 2,227 coins graded PSA 9, with 1,864 earning a PSA 8 grade.
Among sets, the highest graded one is from a collector whose collection is named “Lombardi Time ’62-’63.” This set has five cards graded at PSA 9. The rest are all PSA 10s, giving the set a rating of 11.033.
Not surprisingly, the most coveted coin in the set is Unitas (No. 1), followed by Brown (No. 56), Brodie (No. 31), Layne (No. 77), Matson (No. 45), Bobby Mitchell (No. 94) and John Henry Johnson (No. 73).
While it’s a bit of a time consuming task to track them all down, completing a 1962 Salada Football set will not hurt the wallet too much. There are over 800 of them on eBay right now. It is definitely a set that can still be completed in a relatively high grade.