Memorabilia extravaganza, Part I

We’ve got such a great lineup of cards in this auction that it’s almost easy to forget the outstanding memorabilia offering that we’ve got in this sale.

WilliamsPerhaps our favorite piece is this beautiful broadside, advertising Ted Williams as the new sports columnist of the Boston Herald.  Williams had an infamous relationship with sportswriters that may have cost him the 1941 MVP award in a year when he hit .406 with 37 home runs and 120 RBI, but lost to Joe DiMaggio.  Despite this, at some point Williams intended to take a crack at becoming a sportswriter himself, as evidenced by this spectacular broadside.  According to the ad, Williams’ column could be read three days a week, beginning March 13.  The irony of Ted Williams becoming a sportswriter is not lost on this baseball fan.

Williams, one of America’s greatest treasures, was a great ballplayer, a war hero, a world-class fly fisherman, and a fantastic interview – but his love/hate relationship with the Boston press continued long after his retirement.

The piece, which makes for an incredible display, contains a number of condition issues, not the least of which is the fact that it has unfortunately been mounted on some sort of foamcore.  We’re unsure whether the broadside itself is affixed to the foamcore backing or if it simply sits inside the red and black photo matting, but due to the fragility of the piece, we are averse to find out for certain.  Despite this, it is a wonderful (and wonderfully ironic) display piece marking an American hero, and one of the greatest players ever.

German Art StampsThis is a very rare and interesting sheet of perforated art stamps, produced in Germany around 1909.  It contains 25 stamps of players as well as for various baseball equipment (such as a ball, glove, “body protector,” etc.).  While each player’s drawing does not bear likeness to the actual player, each player has a team affiliation and is depicted playing their actual position (i.e. Mathewson pitching, Bresnahan wearing catcher’s gear).

How this sheet could have survived in this state, we cannot imagine.  Technically in VG condition due to folds at the perforations and across the second row of stamps, the sheet is very delicate, made of very thin paper that, due to its age, is beginning to separate at some of the perfs.  Included are most of this set’s keys: Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Roger Bresnahan, Willie Keelier, and Nap Lajoie.  An incredible piece, likely one of very few to survive in uncut form, this is an incredible window into an obscure international baseball issue.

A very interesting type of 1910-era collectible are the die-cut, sepia-toned souvenir fans that contain images of the 16 captains of their various teams.  These fans, printed on heavy paper, also included blank scorecards and were affixed by staple to a wooden handle.  The fans that were used commercially also contained printed ads on the reverse, typically for local businesses.

Baseball fan AThe fan contains images of the team captains, some of the most popular players of the day, including Germany Schaeffer, Bobby Wallace, Billy Sullivan, Hal Chase, George Moriarty, Harry Lord, Harry Davis, Nap Lajoie, Mickey Doolin, Calvin Griffith, Bill Dahlen, Bill Sweeney, Frank Chance, Art Devlin, Fred Clarke and Roger Bresnahan.

Unlike all the others we’ve seen, this particular example is unused, unscored, with no advertising printed on the reverse and no handle.  Obviously used as a sample at some point in the production process, it has been preserved in outstanding condition, with very little wear.  Rarely will you see a piece as remarkably well-preserved as this.  The surface is outstanding, with virtually no wear.  The edges exhibit very mild fading, and only mild wear to the edges themselves.  All the die cuts are intact, with no chipping or missing pieces that are common with die-cut fans like this.  This is an amazing relic, in incredible condition, with multiple Hall of Famers.


1865 Doubleday CDV FrontWhen it comes to Abner Doubleday’s role in the creation of baseball, the evidence is clear: he had none.  And yet his name is as synonymous with “baseball” as hot dogs and shortstops, due entirely to the Mills Commission, a group formed in the early 1900s with a goal of proving the origin of the sport in the US.  Aimed at settling a dispute over whether or not baseball had a British origin (popular sentiment rejecting that theory), Cubs president Albert Spalding instructed the Mills commission to determine whether baseball was of British or American descent.

The “Doubleday Myth,” stating that Union officer Abner Doubleday created baseball in Cooperstown, NY in 1839 was published in 1905 as a result of a claim made by then mining engineer Abner Graves.  Graves’ recollection became the primary driver for the Mills Commission giving Doubleday credit for inventing baseball, claiming the game was American in origin.  Though largely disproven later, the myth continues to hold popular support, and Doubleday is still considered by many to be the “Father of Baseball.”

Here we have a Carte de Viste dating to 1865, picturing Abner Doubleday as part of famed Civil War photographer Matthew Brady’s photo archive.  Brady, the best-known US photographer of the 19th Century, took thousands of photos that passed to E & HT Anthony of New York in default of payment for photographic supplies in the 1870s.  This CdV, published by E & HT Anthony, is likely one of those images.  We are pleased to feature it in our auction, packaged together with a 1939 first day cover commemorating the 100th anniversary of the invention of baseball, as mailed from Cooperstown, NY on June 12, 1939 – the day the Hall of Fame was dedicated.  This is an outstanding lot, commemorating the birth of baseball’s famed museum – and the Doubleday Myth.

Jennings Cigar LidMeasuring approximately 9″ x 5 3/8″, this is a remarkable, likely unused cigar box label from the inner lid of the “Hey-Yea, Get-A-Lead” brand of cigars.  Printed on lightweight, mildly glossy paper with gold embossed, ornate accents throughout the image, we feel the unframed piece was likely unused because of it’s outstanding condition.

Jennings was well-known for his enthusiasm as a third base coach with Detroit, his “Hey-Yea” cheer and associated dancing preserved on many of his photos and cards from the era.  His popularity clearly made his identity an obvious choice to sell a variety of products; baseball’s close association with tobacco at the turn of the century made a Hughie Jennings brand of cigar only make sense.  Suitable for framing into a beautiful display, this is an outstanding example of baseball-related tobacco advertising common in the early 20th Century.

Harry Pulliam has somewhat of an ignominious place in baseball history.  Named President of the National League in 1903, it was Pulliam’s controversial decision related to the “Merkle Boner” in 1908 that ultimately awarded the victory to the Chicago Cubs, who won the pennant and the World Series,  It is said that the pressure of the decision caused Pulliam to take time away from work and even consider leaving his position.  Ultimately, Pulliam committed suicide in his office at just 40 years of age, devastating the baseball communicy.

Pulliam CigarsTo commemorate Pulliam’s ascension to the post of NL President, a Pulliam brand of cigars was issued.  Experts agree that the cigars themselves were issued for just one year, 1903.  We’re proud to offer a collection that includes a Pulliam brand cigar box label and two extremely scarce cigar bands.

The box label is in EX/MT condition, retaining all its full color and reflecting little to no wear.  Very popular among prewar baseball collectors, the cigar box labels are relatively plentiful but still widely collected.

The true scarcity in this lot, however, lies in the cigar bands.  Only scarce evidence exists that the Pulliam cigars ever actually existed – an empty box that came to auction some years ago, an actual cigar with band that made its way to auction as part of a lot nearly a decade ago, and the occasional cigar band.  Here, we offer you two rare cigar bands, one in approximate VG condition and the other a stunning near mint example.  Produced on ornate gold foil with the name and likeness of Pulliam in the center, the colorful, embossed bands feature various baseball-related accents.

Among baseball tobacciana collectors, a Pulliam cigar band is a scarce commodity, and paired with the box label represent a stellar example of tobacco-related baseball advertising and a window into a sad period in baseball history.

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