The Flagg Collection #7 – Gordie Howe “Gordy” 1970 Sports Illustrated Poster

For real, serious sports poster collectors and enthusiasts, this feature is for you! On a periodic basis, I’ll be using this blog to display and describe the holdings of The Flagg Collection – the personal collection of rare and vintage posters collected by me, Neil Flagg, the founder and President of SportsPosterWarehouse.com.

The earliest full-sized photographic sports posters started appearing on the market in 1968, as the Renselaar Corporation of Norristown, Pennsylvania leveraged new large-format print technology imported from Japan to enter the sports fan memorabilia market. The posters, marketed under the Sports Illustrated brand through mail-order ads and store display sales, were simple in design and inconsistent in picture quality, but contained some of the greatest names in that golden era of sports.

By 1970, with Renselaar under new ownership and looking for ways to expand their market beyond NFL Football and Major League Baseball, dipped into the NHL market. For a brief period in 1970, a handful of the greatest NHL stars of all-time were published as part of the series: Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Bobby Hull, and, among a few others, this one here – the great Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings.

gordie-howe-1970-si-poster-1

It’s a great home-ice action shot of the aging Gordie at the old Detroit Olympia Arena, the home of the Red Wings for generations. Aging, yes – but still an entire decade away from retirement! The photograph used for this poster was shot by legendary Sports Illustrated photographer Tony Triolo, and it is a great one. Of course, at this primitive stage of poster and photographic technology, you can see some significant imperfections on this print – there was no photoshop back in 1970 to correct the contrast or saturation, or to remove the spots and flecks that were scanned in from the original film negative. Nonetheless, this is what posters are all about – imperfect, meant to be appreciated as a decorative piece from a distance!

Get up close and you’ll see one fun quirk that made it to the one, single, likely very small print run on this poster: the obviously hockey-illiterate staffers at Renselaar spelled his name as “Gordy” instead of “Gordie”:

gordie-howe-1970-si-poster-2

While some of the 1968 and 1969 Renselaar posters were overproduced and are quite plentiful on the market, these 1970 editions – particularly the hockey posters – were printed in very small quantities, primarily for the hockey-mad markets north of the border in Toronto and Montreal. This must have been part of the massively flawed business plan moved forward by the new owners of Renselaar, because by 1971, the company went belly-up, never to be heard from again.

Who knows how many of these have survived the past nearly five decades, but we’re sure it’s very, very few. This one, as well as a pristine Bobby Hull poster from the series, will remain key holdings of The Flagg Collection for a long, long time. As with most of the posters in The Flagg Collection, I’ve had this one canvas-transferred to preserve it forever with durability, in an easy-to-display format.

 

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Explore posts in the same categories: Renselaar Sports Illustrated (1968-71), The Flagg Collection of Classic Sports Posters, Uncategorized

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