Circa 1850s "Belt Ball"

Sold For: $1,320

Auction Year: 2016 fall

Lot: 1493

Item Year: 1850

Category: Pre-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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This early homemade 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. 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 measures ten inches in circumference but weighs just 4.6 ounces, which might indicate that it is a transitional sphere from the time. The ball displays heavy wear, including a number of abrasions, but the leather is still soft and all of the lacing remains intact. This is both an outstanding and rare relic dating from the earliest days of our national pastime. Reserve $300. Estimate (open).


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