Circa 1850s Vintage Lemon Peel Baseball Collection (3)
Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $1,185.00
Collection of three leather balls, each slightly different in size and/or design. In the late 1850s the National Association of Baseball Players changed the standard specifications of a regulation ball. The new rules required that the baseball weigh 6.25 ounces (up from the previous standard of 5.5 ounces) and have a circumference of 10.25 inches (as opposed to the earlier measurement of 9 inches). The fact that each of these balls is both smaller and lighter than either of those specifications indicates that they all most likely date to an earlier period. The fact that none of the balls is uniform in size, weight, or design is also characteristic of a time when most balls were handmade. Given their specifications, these balls may well have been used to play any number of ball and/or bat games, including, but not exclusively limited to, baseball, rounders, and "one o' cat."
1) Small lemon peel ball. The ball features the classic lemon-peel design and is constructed of a single piece of light-colored leather stitched in red. The ball, which measures six inches in circumference and weights 1.6 ounces, is heavily worn, displaying numerous abrasions. A handwritten notation in black ink on the bottom of the ball (opposite of where the stitches come together) reads "Rube Waddell 1904" (meaning unknown; does not appear to be in Waddell's hand). 2) Small figure-eight style ball. This ball, measuring seven inches in circumference and weighing two ounces, features the traditional figure-eight pattern that is standard on balls today. According to most sources, the figure-eight style was introduced in the late 1850s; however, Ellis Drake, who claimed to have originated the figure-eight pattern, is said to have first sketched its design in the 1840s. The ball is heavily worn, with a few small tears and areas of stitch separation, as well as a small area of what appears to be adhesive residue on one panel. 3) Miniature lemon peel ball. This tiny relic, measuring 3.5 inches in circumference and weighing just .2 ounces, is one of the smallest nineteenth-century balls we have seen (and might even be most accurately described as a lemon peel ball "salesman's sample"). Displaying the classic lemon-peel design of just a single piece of leather, the ball is heavily worn, including a few small tears along the stitch lines. Total: 3 balls. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,185.00