First 1863 Meeting of the Football Association, Bell’s Life in London

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We sold this item at auction for $950
 in November, 2023.

The Birth of the Football Association

This 1863 bound copy of Bell’s Life in London comprises all issues from the year, offering comprehensive coverage of events up to the year’s end. It is a rare collection of antique newspapers, pivotal in documenting the founding of the Football Association and the modern game of football.

Most issues consist of 7 pages, supplemented by numerous 2-page inserts. Originally sourced from Yale University, it bears a bookplate to the pastedown. Sold by Britannic Auctions for $950.

Bell’s Life in London Newspaper

Bell’s Life in London was a weekly newspaper published in England from 1822 to 1886. It covered a wide range of topics, including sports, entertainment, and current events.

Renowned for its detailed coverage of sporting events, particularly horse racing, boxing, and cricket, it also featured articles on theater, literature, and social commentary. The newspaper was influential in shaping public opinion on sports and was highly regarded among sports enthusiasts during its time.

This bound copy holds exceptional value as it includes the inaugural FA meeting, a momentous event in the history of football. The first-ever FA article, “Football – Meeting of Captains,” remains a scarce find, originally published only as part of Bell’s Life of London supplement issue.

Bound with all issues leading to the end of the year, this copy encompasses a wealth of football history. Notable articles include discussions on football rules, matches between prominent clubs like Forest Club and Barnes, and insights into the Rugby School Football scene.

Formation of FA: Football Association History

In October 1863, a historic meeting at the Freemason’s Tavern, Great Queen Street, London, marked the beginning of football association history – the formation of the Football Association (FA). Captains and representatives of Metropolitan and Suburban Football Clubs convened to establish a unified code of rules for the game of football.

Representatives from Greater London football clubs convened at the Freemasons’ Tavern to establish the FA. The meeting, chaired by Hull lawyer Ebenezer Cobb Morley, laid the groundwork for the modern game of football. Morley’s pivotal role in drafting the first Laws of the Game solidifies his status as the father of association football.

This rare copy documents the genesis of the Football Association and the evolution of football as we know it today. With insights into the FA’s early meetings and the creation of foundational football rules, it offers a captivating glimpse into the birth of the modern game.

Mr. Editor, I feel that this is the most favourable opportunity for laying before your readers a few remarks on the character of rugby football. No game is less known, none is certainly less understood than ours. But besides this, it is utterly impossible to appreciate any system from merely reading through a set of rules. It is to be wished that some eminent football player from each of our public schools would write a small pamphlet embodying his experience of football in all its phases and all its relations. We might then approximate a correct conception of the merits of each game.

Part of the F.A. Formation article includes a letter to the newspaper editor.

Collecting Antique Newspapers

Certain antique newspaper issues can hold value for various reasons. They offer firsthand insights into historical events, making them prized for research and historical documentation. Scarce surviving copies, often in good condition, contribute to their rarity and appeal.

Additionally, newspapers featuring notable articles like this piece on football association history, illustrations, or advertisements, alongside associations with famous individuals or milestones in journalism, add to their collectibility.

Condition plays a major role, with well-preserved copies usually commanding higher prices at auction. Overall, the value of antique newspapers is a blend of historical significance, scarcity, condition, and demand among collectors.

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