The History of the Ticket Stub

We can thank the Greeks for tickets to live events! The first known ticket sales were used in the Greek period for events in their popular theaters. Tickets were originally in the form of small disks that were about the size of a penny. Some of these disks were made from clay pottery and were stamped with seating information. Other disks were made from bones.


Let’s jump to the mid-1800’s where we saw tickets begin to evolve. Around this time, funeral announcements were sent out to chosen guests and would be issued tickets. These “modern” tickets were printed on paper. Then, tickets became so popular that they were being used for pretty much anything and everything! The more popular tickets got, the more decorative they became. When we look at older tickets, we can see ornate, detailed borders.


In the early 1900’s, people began to explore other materials to produce tickets – from keychains to bronze chips. Even though new options were explored, the paper ticket was affordable and easy to produce. People started to get creative with their paper tickets. In the 1940’s, baseball tickets were cut in various patterns: some in the shape of baseballs and others in the shape of the catcher! Football bowl tickets were cut in rectangles, but they featured colorful art with big pictures.

Ticket Collectors

Many collectors today like to find old concert stubs to add to their collections. A few of the most sought after ticket stubs are from The Beatles concerts, Lou Gehrig’s Memorial, and the 1956 World Series. In 10 years, we might not see printed tickets ever again. These collector’s items might be more valuable in years to come because of that. Many collectors even prefer their tickets to be ripped, rather than scanned. They believe it adds to the patina of it – like a spot on a game-worn jersey. No matter the time of day, over 70,000 ticket stubs are being actioned on eBay.

There are also websites for collectors to share their ticket collections. There are some sites that are solely devoted to Super Bowl tickets, baseball tickets, and even high-end “super-collectible” tickets. These websites give collectors from anywhere in the world a place to come together and see thousands of vintage stubs on display. These are antiques! Many collectors say that they stopped collecting tickets when they turned to generic prints because they became boring. They didn’t want a plain stamped piece of paper. Now that tickets look uniform, the novelty and value is gone. In fact, in the past 20 years, ticket stubs have lost their collectible value.

In 2009, the Atlanta Falcons had a game where they wore throwback jerseys – but they also incorporated throwback tickets! These tickets even had a history lesson about the jerseys. Some other teams took their turns with these tickets and included the season ticket holders’ names and photos on them. With today’s design software and printing technology, it’s a lot easier to print cool designs in bulk.

Modern-Day Tickets

Today, many people can print tickets from home or just show their phone at the ticket counter. In the digital world, we see the majority of tickets moving to our phones – not just to save paper, but because it’s also more convenient for customers. The greatest outcome we’ve seen with digital tickets is that they’ve helped reduce ticket fraud. Sports franchises are moving towards digital because they can gather information about customers and generate revenue by adding processing fees for online purchases – which isn’t possible with paper tickets.

The MLB Advanced Media has a ticketing site which sells tickets to 20 out of the 30 teams. In 2014, we learned around 75% of their single-game ticket sales are digital. They expect digital ticket sales to account for around 90% of their sales now. They don’t expect it to go completely digital because of some fans’ buying habits.

The downside for customers is that they won’t have a nice memento or collector’s item to take home with them. Some fans are so upset that they’ve created online petitions asking to get their ticket souvenirs back. At least they’ll have their selfies from the game to look back on!

Are ticket stubs going to be an endangered species? We think so – but there is always something positive that comes with change! Digital tickets are more convenient for everyone and will bring more value to vintage ticket stubs.

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22nd June 2017