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Lot # 622 (of 1594)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Henry Chadwick Handwritten Early History of Baseball Archive with Duncan Curry CDV and Signature Example

Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $4,406.25

This incredible archive of handwritten notes by Henry Chadwick is notable for its inclusion of two extraordinary nineteenth-century baseball rarities: a CDV of Duncan Curry, first president of the New York Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, and a Duncan Curry signature example, dated January 27, 1885. The archive is comprised of five blue lined sheets. Four of the sheets feature Chadwick's handwritten notes on one side, while the fifth sheet bears writing on each side. All of Chadwick's notes have been written in pencil and each sheet features attached period newspaper clippings relating to the handwritten notes. Chadwick's writings all relate to the early history of baseball and it's likely that these pages represent a portion of his personal reference files for lecture notes or a draft of a book he intended to write. While Chadwick's notes are both interesting and historically significant, it is the inclusion of the Duncan Curry CDV and signature example that are perhaps most noteworthy to collectors and historians. To the best of our knowledge, this is the only Duncan Curry CDV known and the offered Curry signature is the only example we have ever seen (although there may be others and we believe that there are examples in museum collections). The CDV (2.5 x 4 inches) pictures Curry in formal attire and features his name ("Duncan Curry Knickerbockers) written in black fountain pen at the base of the mount. The CDV is affixed to a page bearing Chadwick's handwritten notes regarding the Knickerbocker roster in 1854. Above the CDV is written "Among the enrolled members of the Knickerbocker Club in 1854 - the closing of the 10th season were: Duncan F. Curry (who died in 1894)." Below the photo is a list of the other team members, including Doc Adams. A news clipping recounting the formation of the club and their early games appears to the right of the photo. The Curry signature appears upon a piece of unlined stationery (4.5 x 7 inches) bearing the preprinted address "282 Gates Avenue" along the top. Curry's signature ("D. F. Curry") is penned in black fountain pen and grades "10." Below his signature, also in black fountain pen, is the date "Jany 27th '85." Curry's calling card (2.75 x 1.5 inches) is affixed to the stationery below his signature. This piece of signed stationery appears to be a short handwritten letter from Curry, presumably to Chadwick. Unfortunately, Chadwick has affixed a newspaper clipping to the top half of the stationery below the street address, covering the entire section of the text, thus we will never know the nature of their correspondence. (Note: We are confident that a professional paper conservator could remove the clipping from the letter, and the letter from the page, without harming either.) A number of Chadwick's handwritten notes appear on both the stationery and the page to which it is affixed. Chadwick has written his initials and the name "D. Curry" along the top of the stationery, while a note along the side of the stationery, which is partially obscured by the news clipping, reads, "From Duncan Curry of Knick. . . ." Written below the stationery is Curry's name and additional notes that emphasize his importance: "Knickerbocker President 1845-1846 - 1st Standing Committee on Rules 1845/1853." Duncan Curry was a founding member of the New York Knickerbockers, New York's first organized baseball club. A brief history of the club, as reported in one of the affixed news clippings, reads "The 'Knicks' held their first meeting on Sept. 23d, 1845 and elected as their officers: President, Duncan F. Curry; Vice President, Wm. R. Wheaton; and Secretary and Treasurer, Wm. H. Tucker." As president of the Knickerbocker's, Curry, along with fellow member Alexander Cartwright, was instrumental in the formulation and adoption of a set of twenty new baseball rules that became the basis of our modern game. As noted by Chadwick, Curry remained an important figure in the game as a member of the rules committee for eight years. Any and all items relating to the New York Knickerbockers are exceedingly rare, especially those pertaining to a key member of the club such as Curry. While Alexander Cartwright has received most of the credit for the development of the modern rules of the game, historians today are only now discovering the contributions made by the other founding members of the Knickerbockers, most notably Duncan Curry and Doc Adams. The most significant aspect of these notes is the fact that Chadwick himself, the game's preeminent nineteenth-century baseball historian, recognizes and credits Curry as having played a major role in the evolution of the game. Among the other interesting writings found in this archive are the following: 1)Notes regarding the 1854 Knickerbockers ("In 1854 the club paid $75 a year for the rent of their grounds and for their club room at the hotel. . . . they use the field on on Mondays and Thursdays only - the Eagles and Empires used it on other days."). 2) A long narrative account of the 1861 grand match between Brooklyn and New York in which he includes a handwritten box score of the game (won by Brooklyn by a score of 18-6) that includes Jim Creighton in the lineup for Brooklyn. He also makes note that the victors received a Silver Ball from the New York Clipper. 3) A listing of the members of the New York Knickerbockers in the late 1850s, including Harry Wright. Below Wright's name he adds "[illegible word] that year and he then resided with his father, the veteran cricketeer Sam Wright at 65 Washington S. Hoboken." 4) A newspaper clipping reporting on a cricket game in 1856 that included Duncan Curry on the roster for Long Island. Below the box score, Chadwick has written "1856 Duncan Curry member of the Long Island Cricket Club with Wm. Labon and J. Holden." Although Chadwick has not signed any of the pages, his initials appear a total of three times. All of the handwriting remains light, but legible, grading "5" overall. The Curry CDV, affixed to the page, remains in Excellent condition with outstanding contrast. The pages (7.5 x 9.5 inches) have a number of minor border tears and are in Very Good condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. (Please Note: the James Spence LOA for this piece is in affirmation of Chadwick's handwriting only. James Spence has stated that he is confident that the D. F. Curry signature is that of Duncan Curry and authentic; however, it is the case that Duncan Curry's signature is so rare that James Spence does not yet have any exemplars with which to compare it. Mr. Spence has stated that the signature is unquestionably period and scripted in vintage ink and that he has no reason whatsoever to doubt its authenticity. However, it is his standard practice that he will not issue an LOA for signatures that cannot be matched to verifiable exemplars.) Total: 5 sheets. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $4,406.25


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