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Lot # 1236 (of 1743)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1901-1912 Philadelphia Athletics Stock Certificate Book (99 Stock Certificates)

Starting Bid - $5,000, Sold For - $38,188

Presented is perhaps the most extraordinary item that could possibly exist relating to the Philadelphia Athletics franchise: The original complete stock certificate book of the club with all certificates intact, dating from 1901 to 1912. This is a most remarkable item that represents the heart and soul of the franchise. Included are total of ninety-nine Philadelphia Athletics stocks certificates representing the complete book of certificates as issued. The stock certificates are numbered 1 through 99. The first twenty-eight stock certificates are fully executed and signed (including by Connie Mack as “Cornelius McGillicuddy”); the remaining seventy-one Philadelphia Athletics stock certificates are not filled out or executed but are extraordinary original Philadelphia Athletics stock certificates nonetheless. Obviously the potential break value of this book is enormous (the only other early A's stock certificate we have ever seen was a single fully-executed 1913 example that appeared as Lot 801 in REA's May 2008 auction, selling for $1,997), but the significance of the archive as a whole is very much appreciated by our consignor, who desires to keep the book intact, sold as a single unit, even if they should sell at a considerable discount, in the hopes that the archive will be appreciated and remain intact. The book has been a cherished family keepsake for decades, handed down to him by his father, who also valued it highly, not for monetary reasons, but for its enormous historical significance. This is an extraordinary archive that is hard to do justice to. This stock certificate book literally represents the birth of the Philadelphia Athletics franchise.

The American Base Ball Club of Philadelphia, which was one of the charter members of the American League in 1901, was incorporated in that same year in the state of Pennsylvania. Offered here is the original Philadelphia Athletics stock certificate book that includes the first twenty-eight fully executed stock certificates that together record the sale (and subsequent reassignments) of 2,715 shares of capital stock ($100 per share) between the years 1901 and 1912. In addition to its profound historical significance, this book has the special provenance of originating directly from the family of former A's owner Charles Finley and decades ago was given as a personal gift to our consignor's father from Carl Finley, Charles Finley's cousin, who ran the day-to-day operations of the club. Ninety-nine certificates are housed in the hard-bound book, twenty-eight of which have been assigned to shareholders and are duly signed on the front by “Cornelius McGillicuddy” (Connie Mack) as Treasurer. Twenty-six of the fully-executed certificates are counter signed by “B. F. Shibe” as President. Additionally, seven of the certificates, including stock certificate #1, are made out either wholly or partially to Cornelius McGillicuddy and feature his signature on the reverse as legally required when he later transferred the stock. An eighth certificate is made out to McGillicuddy's trustee, but has also been signed by McGillicuddy on the reverse in acknowledgment of transfer of the stock.

A tremendous amount of historical information can be learned by studying these certificates. Of special note is that the first three stock certificates are made out jointly to “C. W. Somers and Cornelius McGillicuddy” while certificate #10 is made out to Somers alone. Charles Somers was one of the most important figures in the American League at that time. Not only was he the owner of the Boston Red Sox, but he served as vice president of the American League under Ban Johnson from 1901 through 1916 and was the chief financial backer of Cleveland's franchise at the time. (He later sold the Red Sox and purchased the Indians). Somers had a financial interest in the Philadelphia club as well. It was Somers who initially invested $7,500 in the club (to go along with Mack's $2,500) and he later put up the collateral for the lease on the grounds of the A's home ballpark. Somers has signed each of the certificates on the reverse upon his later transfer of the shares. Another certificate (#15) for 255 shares, dated December 20, 1902, is made out to Ban Johnson, but was later voided, with both McGillicuddy's and Shibe's signatures crossed out in red ink. A vintage, black-fountain pen inscription on the front of the certificate reads “It was intended to send this certificate to B. B. Johnson to hold as trustee but afterwards decided otherwise.” Included among the issued certificates in the book are five made out to Ben Shibe, part-owner of the A's along with Mack (they each owned half the club), one made out to Thomas Shibe (Ben's son), one made out to John Shibe (Ben's son), one made out to Earl McGillicuddy (Mack's son, who enjoyed a brief Major League career with the club and later served as a coach and then part-owner of the club in the 1950s with his brother Roy), one made out to Roy McGillicuddy (Mack's son and later part-owner of the club), one made out to Frank Hough (local sportswriter), and two made out to Samuel Jones (local sportswriter). An official stock transfer document, dated November 13, 1903, is affixed to the interior front cover in which Cornelius McGillicuddy transfers 125 shares of stock over to Jay Turner (A's team attorney) as trustee for McGillicuddy, Sam Jones, and Frank Hough, and gives power of attorney to John Hoffmeister to sell, transfer, or assign his stock. It is signed by McGillicuddy in black fountain pen.

This is perhaps the most important piece extant with regard to the history of the Philadelphia A's baseball franchise.

All of the signatures in this book are boldly scripted in blue or black fountain pen, grading “9”; or “10”. However, many of the signatures, particularly those of McGillicuddy and Shibe on the front of the certificates, are naturally affected to some extent by cancellation stamps, void notations, and/or cancellation perforations. Nineteen of the twenty-eight certificates have been canceled or voided. Nearly all of the certificates were once removed from the book and are now rejoined with their corresponding receipt slip by means of adhesive (as is common with corporate stock-certificate books). Certificate #1 has come loose from the spine, resulting in moderate paper loss along the left border of the receipt slip (not affecting the stock certificate), but all of the other certificates remain firmly bound in the book. All of the certificates could easily be separated from the book if desired. The black, hard bound covers, with leather accents at the spine and corners, are heavily worn and the spine is all but gone, leaving both covers virtually detached. The pages are all still firmly bound together. The issued certificates display moderate handling wear and are in Very Good to Excellent condition overall. The unissued certificates display only the slightest hint of age toning and otherwise are in Near Mint condition . Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $38,188


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