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Lot # 59 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Extraordinary 1887-1893 Baseball Advertising Currency Collection (All Eight Known)

Starting Bid - $5,000.00, Sold For - $7,110.00

Presented is an extraordinary collection of one of nineteenth-century baseball collecting's most fascinating advertising issues. This is the ultimate collection of nineteenth-century baseball currencies, and is, to the best of our knowledge, the only complete collection ever assembled. In fact, these are the very baseball currencies that have for many years appeared on OldCardboard.com as the plate specimens to document and provide a visual checklist of the set for all collectors, as well as serving as the illustrations for the feature article "19th Century Baseball Advertising Currency" in Old Cardboard Magazine issue #1 published in 2004. This article actually features illustrations of only seven, as one example (the 1888 St. Louis Nationals team currency which is included here) was not discovered until 2007. Assembled over a period of twenty years by our consignor (a longtime extremely advanced collector), we do not believe that it would be possible to duplicate this remarkable collection. Interestingly, twenty years ago these currencies clearly had a higher profile in the nineteenth-century card and memorabilia world, perhaps because they do not quite fall into the "card" category (and therefore have not been graded as cards). Yet they are an extremely significant set that would be worthy of inclusion in any world-class nineteenth-century baseball collection of any type.

During the late 1880s "baseball currencies" were produced as a novel form of advertising for local merchants. These currencies, printed on thin paper stock, were issued for several teams by various merchants over a period of several years. The design of each currency featured the respective year along with woodcut portraits of the respective team manager or president on the front, and smaller portrait images of the respective players on the reverse. Each currency (approximately 7.75 x 3.25 inches) would then be overprinted (usually front and back) with advertising for a local merchant. They are known as currencies today due to the facts that they resemble paper money and that the advertisements often offer consumers a discount on purchases made at the respective retail shop. Currencies were distributed in 1887 and 1888 featuring Chicago and Detroit clubs of the National League, and the St. Louis Browns of the American Association. Currency featuring the Chicago club was also produced in 1889, and in 1893 an example was produced featuring an all-star selection of players from various teams.

Offered here are all eight of the known baseball currencies produced between the years 1887 and 1893, including the extremely rare 1887 St. Louis, the possibly unique 1888 St. Louis currency (only example known to us), and the exceedingly rare 1893 All-Star currency (Ex-Copeland Collection). 1) 1887 Chicago. A. G. Spalding pictured on the front and twelve team members on the reverse, including Clarkson, Anson, and Sunday. Advertising on front and back for "M. Stern, "The Fair" (Clinton, Iowa). Vg-Ex, with a small upper right corner bend and minute tear near the bottom left edge. 2) 1887 Detroit. Bill Watkins pictured on the front and twelve team members on the reverse, including Hanlon, Brouthers, White, and Thompson. Advertising on the front and back for "K.C. Naylor & Co. Jewelers" (San Diego, California). Fr, with a light vertical fold and multiple tears, including a small chip missing, along the top border. 3) 1887 St. Louis. Chris Van der Ahe pictured on the front and ten team members on the reverse, including Comiskey, Foutz, O'Neill, Welch, and Caruthers. Advertising on the front and back for "The Schottmueller Exposition Cigar Company's Premium Cigars" (St. Louis, Missouri). Pr, with five vertical folds and tears present along some fold lines. 4) 1888 Chicago. A. G. Spalding pictured on the front and twelve team members on the reverse, including Clarkson, Anson, and Sunday. Advertising on front and back for "Holbrook & Dyer, Boots and Shoes" (Worcester, Massachusetts). Vg with a light vertical fold. 5) 1888 Detroit. Bill Watkins pictured on the front and twelve team members on the reverse, including Hanlon, Brouthers, White, and Thompson. Advertising on the front for "J.W. Evans Dealer in Harness, Saddles, Whips, Trunks, etc." (Warren, Illinois). Pr-Fr, three vertical folds with tears originating from the center fold and wrinkling throughout. 6) 1888 St. Louis. This rare currency was first introduced to the collecting world in Robert Edward Auctions' April 2007 sale. It is the only example known to exist. The front of this advertising piece features a portrait of St. Louis Nationals owner Chris Von der Ahe, a full-length image of the Wiman Trophy, and advertising for "London and Paris Misfit Parlors." This St. Louis merchant is also a new addition to the baseball currency "census." The reverse depicts portraits of ten members of the powerhouse St. Louis Nationals, including manager/player Charles Comiskey. The offered 1888 St. Louis note features ten portraits and has several player changes from the 1887 note, including the very unusual (unique to the series) presentation of Jocko Milligan and Chippy McGarr as generic silhouettes, apparently because their actual portraits were not available. Both of these players were new additions to St. Louis in 1888. Hall of Famer Tommy McCarthy is a new addition to the 1888 note, having just joined St. Louis from Philadelphia. The other team members are Latham, King, Lyons, Boyle, Robinson, and O'Neill. This example has two folding creases and a few minor chips along the extreme perimeter, both very common problems with these currencies. It also has an insignificant light pencil notation along the bottom border of the reverse; it is otherwise crisp and clean. 7) 1889 Chicago. A. G. Spalding pictured on the front and twelve team members on the reverse, including Anson, Van Haltren, and Pfeffer. Advertising on front and back for "Crosscup's Merchant Tailoring Clothing and Shoe Stores" (Bridgeton, New Jersey). Vg, crease extending from left border to top center with a small tear along the top edge and vertical fold on right side. 8) 1893 All-Star. N. E. Young pictured on the front and twelve players on the reverse, including Anson, Comiskey, Kelly, Clarkson, Ward, and O'Rourke. Advertising on the front and back for "Frank Foggin - Shoes For Everybody" (Port Richmond, S. I.). Gd, several tears along the top border with two smaller tears along the bottom as well as an insignificant pencil mark on the front right side. This is obviously the finest collection of nineteenth-century baseball advertising currencies ever offered and to the best of our knowledge is the first time a complete collection has ever been assembled, let alone offered at auction as a collection. Total: 8 currencies. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $7,110.00


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