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Lot # 1389 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1897 Louis Sockalexis Pin - Newly Discovered Example!

Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $14,220.00

Extremely rare baseball pin featuring Louis Sockalexis. An extraordinarily significant rarity, this is only the third Sockalexis pin we have ever seen and it is an example that is entirely new to the modern collecting world. It was just recently discovered in St. Louis in a large turn-of-the-century pinback collection that had been in family storage for over 100 years. The collection was comprised almost entirely of political and advertising pins, with the Sockalexis pin representing the only baseball pin in the group. What makes this pin even more noteworthy is its unique paper backing. Instead of the standard "Cameo Pepsin Gum" backing, the offered pin features a backing that advertises for the S. G. Adams Stamp & Seal Co., of St. Louis. The pin's rarity notwithstanding, the fact that Sockalexis appears in no traditional card sets makes it one of the most desirable of all baseball pins. The story of Louis Sockalexis is one of the most tragic in baseball history. An American Indian, Sockalexis was one of the most talented players of his time, but his dependence on the bottle abruptly ended his Major League career just as it started. Sockalexis appeared in sixty-six games with the Cleveland Spiders in 1897, finishing the season with a .338 average while wowing the crowds with his spectacular defensive abilities in the outfield and his daring on the base paths. However, an ankle injury that season, combined with all-too-frequent drinking binges, ruined what was sure to be an outstanding pro career. Just two seasons later, after his appearances at the local taverns became much more frequent than his appearances at the ballpark, Cleveland released him. He never played in the Major Leagues again. His popularity never waned though, and in 1914, the Cleveland Naps were renamed the Indians in honor of Louis "Chief" Sockalexis. The pin, which offers outstanding contrast, displays an extremely tiny black "dot" on Sockalexis' lip, two light vertical scratches which traverse the center of the pin, and a few extremely minor surface blemishes along the perimeter, none of which detract in the least from its overall Excellent appearance. The original paper label on the reverse remains completely intact. It should be noted that this piece is visually far superior to the example that appeared in REA's May 2012 auction (Lot 1639), which sold for $2,963. Manufactured by Whitehead & Hoag. Diameter: 1.25 inches. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000/$2,000+. SOLD FOR $14,220.00


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