Exceedingly rare and highly prized baseball figural piece, depicting a batter, dating from 1868. The figure, which is crafted in white metal and coated in bronze, was produced by Deacon and Muller, who were among the most prominent artists of their day with regard to baseball figural pieces. (Muller is best known today for his exquisite figural baseball clock produced in 1876.) This piece was costly for the time (it and a companion piece depicting a pitcher were sold as a pair for $16), so despite the high degree of craftsmanship only a small number were sold, with even fewer having survived to the present day. While we have seen a few examples of the pitcher figural piece, the striker appears to be even more elusive. According to a period advertising card issued by John Deacon, these pieces were promoted as "Base Ball Statuettes, suitable for Prizes for Matches and Tournaments, Interesting and Beautiful Ornaments for the Parlour." It also notes that both a "catcher" and "short stop" figural were scheduled to be produced in bronze provided he received 100 orders. The fact that neither has ever been seen probably indicates that his self-imposed order quota was never met, leaving only the pitcher and striker available to collectors today. Lettered in relief on the base of the statue is "K. Muller & J Deacon Pat 1868." A second credit on the underside reads "N. Muller N.Y. N: 533/Patent 1868." The figure is missing the original bat (almost always the case for this piece) and displays surface wear commensurate with its age. In Excellent to Mint condition overall. This is one of the most highly prized of all extant nineteenth-century baseball figural pieces and one that would be a worthy addition to even the most advanced nineteenth-century baseball memorabilia or early American figural collection. 7.5 (L) x 3.25 (W) x 10 (H) inches. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).
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