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Circa 1850s "Belt Ball"
Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $948.00
This early baseball, commonly referred to as a "belt" or "belted" ball, is so named due to the design of the stitching, which resembles an "H" in the center. Normally comprised of just one strip of leather, the offered "belt" ball is a variation of that design and was crafted using four separate pieces of leather (two circular side panels, a long rectangular center piece, and a shorter rectangular center piece). This is the first time we have seen two pieces of leather used for the center portion, which then necessitated a second stitch panel. 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 offered ball is much smaller and lighter than either of those specifications, measuring seven inches in circumference and weighing 1.4 ounces. Given its diminutive nature, this ball almost certainly dates prior to that rule change. Most of the balls that have survived from this era are crude homemade examples and this one appears to be no exception, with the stitching not nearly as tight or consistent compared to those balls made by a skilled craftsman. The ball displays wear commensurate with its age and former use, including a number of moderate abrasions, but the leather remains supple, with no hardening or cracking to the surface. This is a rare and exceptional "belt" ball dating from the earliest days of our national pastime. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $948.00
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