1868 Chadwick's American Game of Base Ball - Harry Grabiner's Personal Copy Presented to Joe E. Brown

Sold For: $4,700

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1152

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Extraordinary first edition of The Game of Base Ball by Henry Chadwick, published in 1868 by George Munro & Co., New York. (The cover of the book bears the title Chadwick's American Game of Base Ball .) In addition to both its extreme rarity and historical significance, this example also has a fascinating provenance: As noted by the inscription on the front flyleaf, this book originates from the personal collection of Harry Grabiner, who was the longtime general manager of the Chicago White Sox, and for many years the right-hand man of team owner Charles Comiskey. Grabiner has inscribed the book in blue fountain pen (grading "7") "To my dear friend Joe E. Brown from Harry M. Grabiner - Oct 23, 1936." Joe E. Brown was a famous Hollywood actor and comedian who was also a huge baseball fan, so it's no surprise that he and Grabiner were friends. Brown, whose son Joe L. Brown later became general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, was also a collector and this book undoubtedly served as one of the foundations of his personal baseball library. Interestingly, our consignor, who has had this book for many years, was not even aware of its unique history (or had long ago forgotten about it) and was delighted when we told him of the inscription. The Game of Baseball is not only one of the earliest histories of our national pastime, but also one of the most important. Chadwick was the preeminent sportswriter of his day and is universally regarded as one of the game's founding fathers. Chadwick's role in the emergence of baseball as our national pastime was great. As a chronicler of the sport he was continually promoting the virtues of the game to the American people in newspapers, magazines, and books. At the same time he was writing about baseball he was also actively contributing to the game's evolution as a board member on various rules committees. The complete title of this book is The Game of Base Ball - How to Learn it, How to Play it, and How to Teach it - With Sketches of Noted Players. If any man were qualified to write such a book at the time it was "Father Chadwick." This remarkable volume includes rules and instructions for the game, profiles of many leading players, summaries of famous matches, box scores and other important historical information relating to the early days of the game, much of it found nowhere else. "The Chadwick Book," as it is often referred to by advanced collectors, is considered a cornerstone of all important baseball libraries. In addition to its historical significance, the book is also extremely rare. Today there are believed to be less than twenty copies in existence, making this a highly sought-after volume by both baseball collectors and bibliophiles alike. The offered volume (4.25 x 6.5 inches) is one of the finest (perhaps the finest) we have handled with regard to condition. All of the gilt-stamped lettering on the cover remains beautifully intact and the red cloth boards display only modest wear commensurate with its age. A small tear on the page preceding the title page (featuring a woodcut illustration of Chadwick) has been repaired by a small piece of vintage brown tape. A small tear is also present on the front flyleaf (not affecting the inscription). A paper clip impression is visible at the top of the title page. The book remains firmly bound, with no separation along the spine, and the pages are clean and bright overall, with no significant flaws. In Excellent condition overall. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000+.

SOLD FOR $4,700

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