Please note: This lot has been withdrawn from the auction due to an issue relating to title.
Incredibly significant financial archive relating to the earliest years of the Boston franchise in the National League. Collection of forty-three Boston Base Ball Association stock certificates, spanning the years 1876 through 1888, all fully executed and bearing the name of the shareholder, the number of shares, and the respective signatures of the team president and secretary on the front. Among the many highlights of this incredible grouping is an example dating from 1876, the inaugural season of the National League. The certificate, numbered "52" and dated September 18, 1876, is for five shares and was issued to J. B. Billings. It has been signed in black fountain pen (grading "9") along the base by team president N. T. Appolonio and the club secretary. Billings has signed the certificate on the reverse. Nathan Taylor Appolonio was president and owner of the club from 1873 through 1876. The remaining forty-two certificates have all been signed in black fountain pen (averaging "9") on the front by owner and team president Arthur H. Soden. Soden was an important nineteenth-century executive and team owner who later succeeded William Hulbert as the third National League President in 1882 after Hulbert died that year in office. Soden was one of the most influential of all executives steering the future of baseball in the nineteenth century and is perhaps best remembered as the originator of the reserve clause in baseball contracts. Soden was on a short list of eleven early baseball executives chosen by the Hall of Fame in 1946 to be members of the "Honor Roll of Baseball" to recognize non-playing personnel who have made great contributions to the game. Early nineteenth-century stock certificates, especially those from prominent clubs, are naturally very rare. In the late 1970s, approximately fifty early 1870s National Association Boston stock certificates surfaced along with various papers related to the club. They looked very much like these National League era stock certificates but dated from 1871 to 1875, the years in which the Boston franchise was a member of the National Association (the predecessor of the National League). This collection of 1876 to 1888 Boston National League stock certificates almost certainly relates to that find, long ago separated from the late 1970s find. The National League era Boston stock certificates were completely unknown in the collecting world until they miraculously surfaced in the summer of 2008. Incredibly, they were found in an antique shop in Georgia where they had been sitting undisturbed for decades. A total of sixty-nine National League Boston stock certificates were purchased at auction by our consignor; he kept twenty-six and these, and the remaining forty-three are presented as a collection in this lot. Boston was a charter member of both the National Association (baseball's first professional league) in 1871 and the National League in 1876. Interestingly, the Boston Baseball Association, now the Atlanta Braves, is the only club to have fielded a team every season since the inception of professional baseball. Boston was the preeminent team during the first decade of professional baseball. Stocked with an all-star roster of players, including George Wright, Al Spalding, Jim O'Rourke, and Deacon White, Boston captured four National Association championships (1872-1875) and two National League titles (1877-1878) during the nine-year span 1871 through 1879. This collection features eight stock certificates dating from that early era of dominance. Aside from the 1876 example, all of the certificates (bearing a printed value of $100 per share) are identical in design and measure 8.5 x 5.25 inches. The majority bear the embossed team seal ("Boston Base Ball Association - Organized 1871") in the lower-right corner as well as signatures on the reverse relating to the transfer of shares. All but four also include a supplemental record sheet either affixed or attached with pins (with corresponding punctures to the certificates) that note change of ownership or date of redemption. Approximately seventy-five percent of the certificates grade between Vg and Ex, with toning, fold lines, and minor corner and edge tears noted as the most common flaws afflicting nearly all of the pieces. The remaining certificates are in slightly lesser condition and display the above mentioned flaws to a greater degree. The breakdown of certificates offered here, by year, is as follows (number of certificates for each year noted in parentheses: 1876 (1), 1877 (3), 1878 (3), 1879 (1), 1880 (3), 1881 (7), 1882 (8), 1883 (5), 1884 (4), 1885 (2), 1887 (3), 1888 (3). Spanning the years from the birth of the National League to the days of the Old Judge tobacco set in the late 1880s, this is a fascinating find, with many of these certificates much rarer than those from earlier years, and dating from years in National League history from which very little exists. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Total: 43 stock certificates. Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000+. SOLD FOR
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