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1863 "Union Prisoners at Salisbury" Civil War Baseball Lithograph
Starting Bid - $2,500.00, Sold For - $18,800.00
This magnificent full-color print (41 x 24 inches) is universally recognized as the premier 1860s baseball lithograph as well as being one of the earliest color renditions featuring baseball as a subject. The striking illustration depicts Union prisoners playing baseball under Confederate guard in Salisbury, North Carolina. The print was published in 1863 by Goupil & Co., New York, from a lithograph by Sarony, Major & Knapp (449 Broadway, N. York). This is one of the most impressive and historically important of all baseball display pieces. It is also one of the rarest. There are probably no more than a dozen "Union Prisoners" prints known to exist. Presented is a magnificent newly discovered example of what most advanced collectors consider to be the most significant of all nineteenth-century baseball lithographs. The print is of special historical importance in that the Civil War was largely responsible for the game of baseball spreading throughout the country. Thousands of soldiers learned to play baseball during the Civil War, and upon returning home, they introduced the game to friends and neighbors in their hometowns. In a very short period of time, the sport was played in every town in the land, soon earning the title "The National Pastime." This example has never before been offered at auction or even seen in the baseball collecting world. It has been part of a privately owned Civil War museum in the state of Ohio for the past fifty years and was the only baseball-related piece in the recently dismantled display. A period notation on the reverse of the print, written in pencil, reads “2 Gen. R. X. Sutt [?] – Picture to be varnished with Mrs. Stockwell 30 Cts Pr.” As the notation states, a protective layer of varnish was applied to the front of the lithograph many years ago. As a result, the colors are somewhat muted and the lithograph appears slightly toned. The application of varnish has obscured the printed title of the lithograph ("Union Prisoners at Salisbury, N.C.") which is normally found along the bottom white border. A few minor surface abrasions and/or scratches are evident throughout. In Good condition overall. We have no idea whether the protective varnish could be removed by a professional restorer but the print displays beautifully exactly as it is, just as it has been prominently displayed as a Civil War item for decades. The 1863 "Union Prisoners at Salisbury" print is one of baseball's most spectacular display pieces, and one of the few with a significance that transcends the world of sports collecting, being equally highly prized by collectors of Americana, Civil War memorabilia, and nineteenth-century lithography as well. Framed to total dimensions of 45 x 28 inches. Please note: due to the size and/or weight of this item, the shipping charges (depending on where it is sent and method of shipping) may be substantial. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000/$10,000. SOLD FOR $18,800.00
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