Presented is the only advertising card featuring a Negro League team known dating from the nineteenth-century. The fact that it features the top Negro League club of the day, and includes Charlie Grant, the greatest Negro League star of the era, makes this an extraordinarily significant card. The Page Fence Giants of Adrian, Michigan, were one of the most prominent of all black teams before the turn of the century. In the late 1890s, they were the premier Negro League team. Led by the legendary Charlie Grant, one of the greatest stars in the history of the game, in 1897 the Page Fence Giants won an incredible eighty-two games in a row. No history of early Negro League baseball is complete without including this historic club. Very little has survived from this landmark team, making this advertising trade card even more significant. The Page Fence Giants were so named because the Page Woven Wire Fence Company of Adrian, Michigan, sponsored the team. Incredibly, the offered card (4.5 x 5.5 inches) is an advertising "trade card" issued by the Page Woven Wire Fence Company. It is printed on sturdy stock, and has advertising on the reverse for the company that sponsored the legendary Page Fence Giants. The back also features an illustration of a Page-brand Woven Wire Fence. Based on a comparison of the players featured and the lineups recorded in reference books, we believe this card dates to exactly 1897, though it is possible it is a year earlier or later. At the bottom center of the front of the card, below the player identifications, is the text "(OVER)," which is an invitation to anyone holding the card to view the advertising for the Page Woven Fence Company on the reverse of the card. As an additional historical note, Charlie Grant came very close to being the first black player of the twentieth century to play in the Major Leagues. John McGraw attempted to break the color barrier by signing the straight-haired, high-cheekboned, and light complexioned Charlie Grant to a Baltimore Orioles contract (Grant's physical characteristics are easily seen on this card, in which he is pictured in the front row, second from right). Grant was renamed "Charlie Tokohama" and was presented to the world as being a Cherokee Indian. White Sox president Charles Comiskey discovered the deception. Grant was exposed and banned from the white leagues. Grant's banishment is credited with playing a major role in the birth of a new generation of independent black teams, which soon flourished in the early twentieth century. The Page Fence Giants advertising trade card is extremely rare! In fact, this is only the third example we have ever offered in all our years. The first example, appeared as lot #40 in REA's Spring 2004 auction, and realized a final sale price of $5,750. The second example, appeared as lot #848 in our Spring 2005 auction, and realized a final sale price of $6,960. Since then a few other examples have surfaced, but it still remains as one of the rarest nineteenth-century cards in existence. Graded POOR 10 by SGC, the offered example has several creases including a heavy horizontal crease across the center of the card and the upper right corner is missing. Aside from the aforementioned flaws, the cards image is bright and crisp with tremendous image clarity. This is a very presentable example of one of the great rarities of all advertising trade cards of the nineteenth century. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).
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