Sunday, June 5, 2011

Arts and Letter(head)s, Part II

This 1963 Packers letterhead and envelope recently sold at Heritage Auctions.
1963 Vince Lombardi Signed Letter, Thanking Hank Gremminger for Contributions in the 1962 Championship Game. "There is no substitute for victory." Not a bad way to close this significant letter, as Vince Lombardi did in his typical confident and proud style. Sent to Hank Gremminger on January 4, 1963, there are few Lombardi letters with content that can compare to this one, and the legendary coach signed it in pristine blue ball-point. Measuring at 8.5x11", this ultra-clean piece of Green Bay Packers letterhead exhibits two horizontal mail folds and is accompanied with its original envelope, which was sent to Gremminger's home in Dallas.
It's gorgeous, with the "Holstein Heisman" logo prominently featured.

This is from relatively early in Lombardi's tenure, before the stadium was expanded to include the team's offices. The return address is 349 South Washington Street, on the other side of the Fox River.

I particularly like the telephone number: HEmlock 2-4873.

The matching envelope reflects the same bold graphics.

This letter is valuable not only for its view of the team's æsthetics, but also by demonstrating Lombardi's relationship with his players.

Dear Hank & Shirley:

Words could never express my gratitude for your accomplishments of the past season. Our victory in the Championship Game was particularly pleasing since it meant so much to me personally.

I believe you realize now that success is much more difficult to live with than failure. I don't believe anyone realizes, except ourselves, the obstacles we had to face week after week. This, of course, made our season more gratifying.

I was extremely proud of our conduct during the Championship Game. We never lost our poise under what were very trying conditions. The Giants tried to intimidate us physically, but in the final analysis we were mentally tougher than they were and that same mental toughness made them crack.

Character is the perfectly educated will and you are men of character. Our greatest glory was not in falling, but in rising when we fell.

I hope you both enjoy the TV or stereo. Best wishes to you both and a very happy New Year. Remember, "There is no substiute for victory."


Vince Lombardi
Head Coach and General Manager
A "TV or stereo"? Makes a nice bonus for the victors, on top of the championship watch or ring.

The graphics are priceless, from the team logo on the top to the rendering of New City Stadium (two years before it was renamed for Curly Lambeau).

The details are also revealing: apparently, the Coach didn't believe in throwing away old letterhead. The graphics proudly claim six World Championships (all Curly Lambeau's), the most recent being 1944.

It's not surprising that the recently-won 1962 title isn't represented, but the letterhead also omits the 1961 title. From the championships listed, this letterhead was evidently ordered between the time the Packers won the 1960 Conference Championship and the end of the following season.

Maybe the old letterhead was saved for "in-house" letters like this one, or maybe they just wanted to use up all the old stock.

In any case, this letter was worth $2,987.50 to the lucky bidder, and is priceless to those of us interested in the team's history.

(photo credit: Heritage Auctions)


Vince Prygoski said...

there is one similar to this on the Wisconsin Historical Society website where they have lots of Packers stuff that they scanned in and is available online. The letter there was from Coach Lombardi to season ticket holders, informing them about playoff possibilities near the end of the 1963 season. As it turns out, the Packers did not make the playoffs that season, but the letter is really cool!!!

Chance Michaels said...

Funny you should mention the WHS online archives - those letters are the subject of a future post, hopefully coming later this month. ;)