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1907 A. J. Reach Company Documents Signed by Ben and Thomas Shibe
Starting Bid - $100, Sold For - $178
Collection of four documents, originating from an A. J. Reach Company minute book, featuring the signatures of both Ben Shibe and his son Thomas Shibe. Ben Shibe's black fountain-pen signature (grading "9") appears on a document dated April 22, 1907, which notes that a meeting was called because less than a quorum was present. Shibe signed the document in his capacity as secretary. The Thomas Shibe black fountain-pen signature ("10") appears on an undated document which records A. J. Reach's election to the position of treasurer. The other two documents, both dating from 1907, record, respectively, Ben Shibe's resignation as secretary and a tabulation of votes for directors of the company. All of the documents (8.75 x 11.75 inches) are lightly toned and display minor border wear as well as two notebook holes along the left border. One displays two horizontal fold lines. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall.
Ben Shibe was one of the most important figures in baseball at the turn of the century. He, along with his brother John, founded John D. Shibe & Co. just after the Civil War. Originally a hardware store, the company quickly evolved into a manufacturer of sporting goods. In 1882, Shibe left his original company and joined with his friend A. J. Reach to form a new sporting-goods company, named Reach and Shibe. However, his brother John believed the name of the new company related too closely to his former affiliation, and the name was soon changed to A. J. Reach and Company. During that same period of time, Shibe was also active in local baseball, both at the amateur and professional levels. He not only sponsored the Shibe Semiprofessional Team, but also acquired stock in Philadelphia's entry in the American Association. Later, in 1901, he helped in the formation of the American League by providing the working capital needed to found the Philadelphia Athletics. During his tenure with both the sporting-goods firm and the A's, Shibe continued to wield his influence on the game. On the manufacturing side, he is credited with the design of the 116-stitch baseball still in use today. Even more important, his company was responsible for the invention of the cork-centered baseball, which, of course, helped to usher in the era of the "live ball." As an owner, Shibe was the first to construct a steel and concrete stadium for his club, which was known as Shibe Park. At the time of its construction in 1909 it was universally regarded as the finest ballpark in existence and provided the inspiration for the many larger stadiums that soon followed. Shibe died in 1922 at the age of eighty-four. Following his death, American League president Ban Johnson paid tribute to him: "Ben Shibe was one of the founders of the American League and its greatest pillar. During his period of active participation the organization profited by his wise counsel, and his sterling integrity helped to a large degree to maintaining the game's highest standard. There never was a man identified with baseball who commanded a greater respect. He has left an indelible stamp for good on baseball." Thomas Shibe succeeded his father as president of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1922 and was also an executive in the family sporting-goods business. Thomas Shibe is often credited with designing much of the machinery used in the manufacture of the company's baseballs. He passed away in 1936. LOA from James Spence/JSA.Reserve $100. Estimate $300+. SOLD FOR $178
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