Circa 1850s Unique Six-Panel Lemon-Peel Ball

Sold For: $420

Auction Year: 2016 fall

Lot: 1494

Item Year: 1850

Category: Pre-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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This nineteenth-century lemon-peel ball, so named because its stitch pattern mimics the cuts used to peel a lemon, is unusual in three distinct ways. First, it features six panels as opposed to the normal four. Second, it is constructed out of six separate pieces of leather whereas most lemon-peel balls are constructed from a single piece of leather. Lastly, with a circumference of 11.75 inches and weight of 4.6 ounces, it is larger and lighter than most baseballs from the era. 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). Given the size and weight of this ball, it might be either an early homemade variation of a baseball, or was perhaps used for a game other than baseball. Either way, it is an extremely unusual and desirable early ball dating from the earliest days of our national pastime. The ball displays heavy wear, including abrasions, with a large split to one of the six seams. Reserve $300. Estimate (open).


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