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The Original Only Colors - Spartantiques Collectors Corner

An introduction to the world of Michigan State sports memorabilia and a dive into the history of the real Only Colors.


The fine folks at “The Only Colors” have invited me to write a Spartan Sports Memorabilia column. Why me? I don’t claim to have the largest collection outside of the MSU Archives. I don’t claim to be the most knowledgeable on the history of Spartan athletics. I am, however, an old-school, life-long, native son of East Lansing, who was raised on Michigan State Spartans sports and became a pack rat of a collector along the way.

I love Coach Mark Dantonio and I hate neon jerseys. I have passion, perspective, and appreciation of the great history of Michigan State University. I hope you enjoy the column and let me know what interests you. You can find me on Twitter at @SPARTANTIQUES — Go Green!

Original “Only Colors”

Since you’re reading this on “The Only Colors” site, I thought it appropriate to share something related from my collection. This is an original “Fight Song” lyric sheet from a 1916-18 M.A.C. student scrapbook.

Fight Song Lyric Sheet
Spartantiques Collection

Prior to 1916, Aggie fans were led by Yell Masters in rousing spelling cheers like “M-A-C, M-A-C, L-A-N-S-I-N-G” and “There’ll be a hot time, on the old farm tonight.”

M.A.C. even had the audacity to include “The Yellow and Blue” University of Michigan alma mater words on their song sheets. Francis Lankey — a class of ‘16 Yell Master from Bay City — believed M.A.C. should have it’s own fight song and composed the lyrics that we mostly still use today.

1916 Wolverine Yearbook
Spartantiques Collection

Tragically, Lankey, an Air Force Lieutentant, was killed in a plane crash on May 1, 1919. His “Fight Song” was published “In Memory.” I’ve seen two copies of the original fight song music sheet in private collections and have never seen one for sale. My hunt goes on ...

1919 Fight Song Music Sheet
Private Collection

Words Of Advice

A few words of advice to new collectors — find a specific theme to collect and stick with it. There is an amazing assortment of MSU programs, ticket stubs, pennants, posters, cards, schedules, figurines, nodders, newspapers, photos, jerseys, equipment, yearbooks, books, magazines and more.

By the way, I have never been able to follow my own advice. This hobby can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Memorabilia is only worth what someone else is willing to pay. Don’t be afraid to negotiate, and with few exceptions, never feel like you won’t have another chance at that must have item again. The hunt is half the fun!