Exceptional Circa 1850s "Belt" Ball

Sold For: $9,400

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1136

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This early 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 three separate pieces of leather (two circular side panels, and a long rectangular center piece). 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 eight inches in circumference and weighs just 2.4 ounces, which indicates that it probably dates prior to that rule change, perhaps even much earlier. Most of the balls that have survived from this era are crude homemade examples; however, the tight stitching on this ball indicates that it was probably made by a skilled craftsman. The ball displays wear commensurate with its age and former use, including numerous abrasions, but the leather is still soft and all of the lacing remains intact. This is both a rare and high-grade "belt" ball dating from the earliest days of our national pastime. Reserve $300. Estimate $500+. SOLD FOR $9,400

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