1860 Live Oak Polka Sheet Music

Sold For: $15,600

Auction Year: 2017 spring

Lot: 1747

Item Year: 1860

Category: Pre-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

Rate This Item

Please Note: At the request of a number of bidders we have examined this out of the frame. It is complete with all seven interior sheet music pages. It appears that it was once stapled together, because you can see three sets of staple holes along the edges of each page and the cover. The cover (and only the cover) is affixed to the matting by means of two pieces of tape. Also, the left border is slightly adhered to the matting. There are a number of minor edges tears and there is also some toning along the front borders where it has been covered by the matting. All of these minor flaws are hidden by the matting and the piece presents as Excellent. It is also the finest unrestored example we have ever seen.


The 1860 Live Oak Polka sheet music is the earliest and most spectacular of all color baseball sheet music. It is also universally recognized as one of the most significant and revered of all nineteenth-century baseball display pieces, and represents the very first baseball chromolithographic art print. The song is dedicated to the Live Oak Base Ball Club of Rochester, New York. The cover depicts a baseball game-in-progress with a patriotic motif of an American flag draped across the top. A player is pictured in the foreground, leaning on a bat in full period uniform. The detail of the game in progress scene is remarkable, with players in uniforms, spectators in formal dress, and tremendous background detail. There are very few baseball-related lithographic art pieces dating from the era of the Civil War: this is one of the few, the earliest, and perhaps the very finest, with unparalleled design and production values. This is also an exceedingly rare piece, equally at home in a museum setting or a most advanced collection devoted to Americana, the Civil War, American lithography, or baseball. This particular example was originally offered as Lot 683 in REA's April 2006 auction, where it realized $10,440. Since that time we have seen only two other examples at auction and we estimate that there are only approximately five known. There will be other items in this sale that will sell for more, but no other single item represents all that we value in terms of aesthetics, and the rich early history of the game of baseball, than the Live Oak Polka sheet music. This is an extraordinary example of the most desirable of all baseball sheet music, and one of the premier nineteenth-century baseball display pieces. Published by Endicott & Co. Lithographers of New York. The sheet music has extremely strong colors, with only some very minor age spotting, an extremely insignificant small edge tear on top border (no paper loss, mentioned strictly for the sake of accuracy) and a corner crease in the lower right. Interior sheet music pages are complete, intact, and very clean. In superb Excellent condition. 10 x 13 inches. Framed and matted to total dimensions of 17 x 14 inches. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open).


More items like this:

(Swipe images to see more)