1860 The Live Oak Polka Sheet Music (Ex-Halper Collection)

Sold For: $7,050

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1141

Item Year: 1860

Category: Pre-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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The Live Oak Polka, published in 1860, is the earliest of all color baseball sheet music, and without question the most spectacular of all baseball sheet music. It is one of only five color sheet musics dating from the nineteenth century, and, perhaps most importantly, its cover features the earliest color print of baseball in America. It is universally recognized as one of the most spectacular and revered of all nineteenth-century baseball display pieces. This example is one of the very best of the few known, and is all the more significant as one of the great nineteenth-century prizes of the famous Halper Collection. 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. Published by Endicott & Co. Lithographers of New York. There are very few baseball-related lithographic art pieces dating from the era of the Civil War. This is one of the few, and with unparalleled design and production values. Like the famous Union Prisoners at Salisbury print produced a few years later (1863), one of the few baseball display pieces from the era held in similar esteem, this rare piece is equally at home in a museum setting or in any advanced collection devoted to Americana, the Civil War, American lithography, or baseball. There are fewer than ten known examples of The Live Oak Polka sheet music. As previously noted, this very example was once one of the signature nineteenth-century pieces in the Barry Halper Collection. It appeared in the famous 1999 Halper auction as Lot #3, where it sold for $25,300. At the time of the Halper sale, this piece displayed minor age spotting, an extremely insignificant small tear on the bottom border (no paper loss), and the most minute hint of remnants along the bottom edge from removal from a bound book of sheet music, as is always the case with sheet music from this era. Since that time, our consignor has had the piece professionally cleaned and the bottom-border tear repaired. As a result, the piece projects an extraordinary Near Mint appearance and displays much as it did when first issued 150 years ago. All of the interior pages are complete, intact, and very clean. This is an extraordinary example of the most desirable of all baseball sheet music, and one of the premier nineteenth-century baseball display pieces. 10 x 13 inches. Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000+. SOLD FOR $7,050

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