Posted on November 05 2019
The New Era Cap Company has been making caps and everything related to baseball since the 1920s. If you collect baseball memorabilia, it’s important to know that New Era cap tags look much the same from the beginning until 1984. Then approximately every two years, the tags began to change. This makes it more difficult to determine the age of early caps, but much easier to know the date of later-made caps.
New Era cap tags are attached to the inside back-center of the cap’s sweatband. There are generally two to three tags: one tag is the manufacturers’ label, another is the size tag, and a third tag includes washing instructions or other business logos.
The Evolution of New Era Cap Tags
As mentioned earlier, because of the use of identical designs for nearly 60 years, many times a cap’s age can only be approximated. Through photos, team logo designs, etc., caps may be more accurately dated. Below are some descriptions of how New Era cap tags have evolved.
The Earliest Tags
There is only a slight variation between the two earliest tags; one says, “perspiration proof” and another is marked “100% wool fabric.” It may be due to cloth versus leather sweatbands or a difference in fabrics; however, the tags are often interchangeable. In addition, there was always a size tag because this was long before adjustable caps were introduced.
The First Tag Change
In 1983, Sports Specialties Corporation entered the market and became the first cap company to “license” their caps. In order to compete, New Era Cap Company began to add a tag that said they were “the official licensee” to Major League Baseball on the back of every cap.
In 1985 to 1987, New Era changed things up by again adding a few more words to their tags, removing the tag on caps with leather sweatbands, and began attaching cardboard “Diamond Collection” tags to the outside of caps sold in retail stores. Then, the Sports Specialties Corp. was awarded a co-exclusive licensing contract making caps for players to wear on the field. That deal didn’t change for almost 10 years.
1988 to 1993
In 1988, New Era’s main tag was changed again when they added an additional logo. They also began putting the “Diamond Collection” tags on the inside of the caps instead of the exterior. The size tag started to disappear due to adjustable caps becoming available. New Era also eliminated the extra ring for sweat protection around the rim. Then, from 1989 to 1993, the main cap tag was simplified and streamlined.
1994 to 1998 – Big Changes
In 1994, New Era becomes the exclusive manufacturer of caps for Major League Baseball. This leads to drastic changes in the tag’s design, adding the “59/50” logo. In 1997, the logo was changed to look like a flag. Another tag was added (sometimes with a size) that made it very clear that this is the only cap worn by professional ball players.
1999 to 2004
New Era cap tags stayed unchanged for the next several years, except for the Diamond Collection tag saying “Authentic.” In 2002, slogans appeared on the interior taping between the cap’s panels. Through 2004, all the cap tags got an overhaul with new sizes and colors and new slogans on the tape.
2005 to the Present
The logo on the manufacturers tag and size tag was simplified to New Era’s “Blue Box” which are the last tags on the wool cap. In 2008, the players switched to wearing polyester caps with a black sweatband. The tag colors were changed to stand out against the black background. No other changes have been made since 2009, when they got an update from the original debut of the polyester cap.
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