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Lot # 749 (of 1411)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1888 The Krank: His Language and What it Means By Thomas Lawson

Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $1,740.00

Exceedingly rare nineteenth-century baseball book written by Thomas Lawson in 1888, entitled The Krank: His Language and What it Means, is one of only three copies known to exist. This is the first time we have ever even seen this important and unusual volume anywhere, let alone at auction. This book provides a satirical look at the typical baseball fan, or "Krank," the term coined by Chadwick by which baseball fans were well known at the time, as well as an explanation and humorous insight into the many terms of language of the day commonly used by "Kranks." Due to its content and extreme rarity, this book represents a true "holy grail" for both baseball collectors, especially those who appreciate the important role of fans in the early history of the game, and bibliophiles. The offered book is one of only three copies known to exist and is the only one known in private hands. The other two examples are housed in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress and the Baseball Hall of Fame, respectively. Its rarity aside, it is also extremely significant as this volume is devoted to and memorializes the significant role of the fan in baseball history, and the language of the game, at a time when the great impact of baseball's most devoted fans was integral to the growing success of the game. This is the first book of its type to reflect the importance of the fan to the success of the National Pastime. The book is a legend among the most knowledgeable book collectors. Though many details of its contents and publication have long been known, its existence has understandably attained the status of an urban legend. Though it has long been documented, no one has ever actually had a copy. Its existence has been known only by its inclusion in the collections of the Hall of Fame and the Library of Congress. The book was written and financed by Thomas W. Lawson, an extremely successful stockbroker, investor, author, and connoisseur of popular culture, who was also very eccentric and one of the wealthiest men in the world. It is interesting to note that the covers of The Krank are alleged to have been constructed of baseball covers, and, indeed, they are most certainly leather covers which could very well be made from baseballs. (The covers of Lawson's most well known book, a yachting history entitled The Lawson History of The America's Cup, which he published in 1902, utilizes actual ship sails in the construction its covers.) Lawson made a fortune in his business dealings with the Amalgamated Copper Company, though he is perhaps best known as the author of Frenzied Finance, an early expose of Wall Street stock manipulation and crookedness. Lawson was a great baseball fan who rooted fiercely for Boston from the 1880s through the turn of the century. Card collectors may be familiar with the card game Lawson created in 1884, "Lawson's Patent Game of Base Ball with Cards," which he marketed at ballparks and train stations and which was very popular for many years. The Krank (2.5 x 3.5 inches) is comprised of sixty-four pages. The first half of the book makes use of both prose and poetry to tell the story of one typical Krank's day at the park. The "Krank" depicted here is not always portrayed in the most flattering of terms and the author, quite derisively but in good humor, points out many of his unmistakable characteristics and habits. The second half of the book provides an elaborate and humorous glossary of all baseball terms and phrases used by the "Krank." Thirty-one of the pages feature both an illustration and an accompanying descriptive text. The world of early baseball literature is extremely well documented and virtually every early baseball book has been offered over the years. The Krank is an exception, and an extraordinary and significant rarity. This is one of the earliest baseball books devoted to fandom long before the days of The Royal Rooters, and reflects the unprecedented popularity of the sport at the time. Published by Rand Avery Company, Boston, Massachusetts. The book is in Very Good condition, completely intact and with tight spine. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000/$3,000. SOLD FOR $1,740.00


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