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Lot # 945 (of 1411)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1907 History of Colored Baseball by Sol White

Starting Bid - $2,500.00, Sold For - $8,700.00

This exceedingly rare softcover book has long been considered to be the "Holy Grail" of all Negro League collectibles and is an extremely important artifact of twentieth century American history as well. Written by black ballplayer Sol White and published in 1907, the 128-page volume chronicles the early history of professional black baseball, beginning with the Babylon, Long Island Nine of 1885. The significance of this book lies in the fact that it is the only source for much, if not all, of our knowledge regarding black baseball prior to 1908. The early Negro Leagues were a loosely confederated group of semi-organized ball clubs with little if any records kept or retained. Although scores of histories of the game of baseball had been published in years prior, they rarely if ever even made mention of black baseball's events or players. Sol White sought to rectify this situation with the publication of this book. In his preface he writes: "Since the advent of the colored man in baseball, this is the first book ever published wherein the pages have been given exclusively to the doings and baseball teams. The players and the managers past and present and the patrons of colored baseball, to them I dedicate this book." The book is profusely illustrated with photos of star players and major teams as well as articles by prominent Negro players such as Andrew Foster ("How to Pitch") and Grant "Home Run" Johnson ("The Art and Science of Hitting"). It was edited and published by white sportswriter H. Walter Schlichter, who was co-founder (along with Sol White) of the Philadelphia Giants, black baseball's best club at the time. In addition to its great significance, the rarity of this book is also extremely noteworthy. There may be as few as a dozen Sol White books known to exist, and many of these examples are in the permanent collections of public institutions. In 1907, when this volume was published, the audience for such a book was very small. It is not surprising that very few examples from the modest print run survived the ravages of time and prejudice. This was not a book that would have found its way into the libraries of many white people. This was not a book that easily found a safe and secure place in which to survive undisturbed for decades and be preserved for future generations. This was born from an era of oppression, not from enlightened times. We are lucky to have even the few remaining copies of Sol White's History of Colored Baseball. For the times, even the publishing of this book was a brave expression of civil rights, foreshadowing all that would follow relating to the great future success of the Negro Leagues, and beyond. The book has clear tape along the spine which extends onto the front cover; however, the binding is still fairly tight. There are three corner chips on the front cover and one on the back cover. The interior pages are extremely clean and bright. In Very Good condition overall. Auction records on this volume exceed $20,000. This is a spectacular example of an exceedingly rare classic of monumental historic significance, and one of the most important American publications (baseball or otherwise) of the early twentieth century. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000/$10,000. SOLD FOR $8,700.00


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