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1907 Henry Chadwick ALS to Sam Crane Concerning the Gift of Treasured Baseball Relics Including 1853 Knickerbocker Trophy Ball
Starting Bid - $10,000.00, Sold For - $11,750.00
One-page handwritten letter of astounding significance, dated October 1, 1907, from Henry Chadwick to fellow sportswriter Sam Crane concerning the gift of his treasured baseball "relics." Henry Chadwick, known as "The Father of Baseball," had long been the greatest advocate of the national pastime and that fact, along with his unquestionable integrity, resulted in his having been chosen as the caretaker for many of baseball's most important artifacts, a stewardship he did not take lightly. At the time of this letter, Chadwick was just four days shy of his 83rd birthday and in failing health. Realizing that his remaining days were short, he began the task of personally overseeing the disposition of his vast collection of baseball memorabilia. Because of the historical significance of the items, he felt obligated to find someone who would look after them with the same care and devotion that he had. That man was his good friend Sam Crane. Crane was a fellow sportswriter (and former player; he actually appears in the Old Judge set) who had mentored under Chadwick and later ascended to the position of sports editor at the Brooklyn Eagle . After Chadwick's retirement it was Crane who replaced him as New York's most respected baseball journalist and, in turn, inherited Chadwick's reputation as the city's greatest exponent of the game. Here in this letter, Chadwick specifically lists a number of important artifacts that he is entrusting to Crane. He writes in full: " My Dear Mr. Crane, Enclosed I send Mort Rogers' trunk from the Resolute Club of the sixties. Many fond memories come to mind when I look amongst its contents. I think of all the many fine contests of the past. I know you will truly appreciate the trinkets that have been given to me through the years - most importantly Al Reach's ball from the Match of 1861 which was exhibited at the Exhibition of 1876 and the trophy and game ball from the 1853 match between the Knickerbocker club and the Gotham club. The trophy is tarnished but reads - A remembrance of the old New York Game which you helped pioneer from our beloved 'Elysian Fields' on the 50th anniversary of the clubs 1st match with the Gotham club of New York - We present you with this most treasured relic of the 'National Game.' - These relics will be safe with you forever. Henry Chadwick. " Both the text and signature have been scripted in pencil and grade "5/6." The Resolute trunk referenced by Chadwick appears in this auction as a separate lot (both the letter and trunk were originally obtained at the same time from the Crane estate). Astute hobbyists and historians will also recognize the fact that the 1861 match ball mentioned here eventually found its way into an equally prominent venue: the famed Barry Halper Collection. The 1853 Knickerbocker trophy ball referenced has also appeared at auction in years past. The trophy inscription quoted is engraved on the silver trophy housing the 1853 Knickerbocker ball, which was presented to Chadwick in 1903 on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of baseball. It would be very difficult to think of, let alone find, a letter of greater significance regarding some of the most treasured artifacts known to exist relating to the earliest days of the National Game. The letter (8.5 x 5 inches) has been written on an unlined sheet which displays two vertical fold lines as well as light soiling. In Very Good to Excellent condition. The letter is affixed (along the right border) to a scrapbook page (10.25 x 13.5 inches) that also features a Henry Chadwick cut signature (in pencil, "8/9") as well as various cut outs and baseball newspaper clippings on both the front and reverse. Accompanied by an additional scrapbook page displaying numerous baseball newspaper clippings. These pages originate directly from a scrapbook kept by Sam Crane. (Note: These are two of four pages removed from the scrapbook, which, along with the balance of the scrapbook, are being offered in four separate lots in this auction.) LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $10,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $11,750.00
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