Circa 1930 Wilson-Western Sporting Goods Baseball Glove Standup Advertising Display

Sold For: $1,896

Auction Year: 2012 spring

Lot: 1173

Item Year: 1930

Category: Advertising and Photographic Displays

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This spectacular and extraordinarily rare store advertising display was produced by the Wilson-Western Sporting Goods Company in promotion of its line of player-endorsed baseball gloves and baseballs. The stand-alone display, constructed of heavy cardboard and measuring an impressive 30(L) x 8(D) x 33(H) inches, is comprised of two separate pieces: a large tri-fold panel that opens to give the appearance of a stage platform and rectangular top panel bearing the Wilson name. What makes this display so appealing is its clever design. The large central back panel features a colorful illustration of fans at the ballpark as they strive to catch a ball heading their way. A small circular hole just above their outstretched arms was intended for the placement of a Wilson-brand baseball, which would give the display a three-dimensional quality and make the scene come to life. In the center platform section of the display is another large cutout intended for the placement of a Ray Schalk catcher's mitt (as noted by the preprinted lettering below, which reads "Ray Schalk Model"). The two interior side panels read, respectively, "Rogers Hornsby Model" and "Bill Terry Model," and it is obvious that the respective player-model gloves were meant to be displayed in those areas. It is also interesting to note that the red Wilson name displayed on the top panel is produced not by print, but by means of the company name having been die-cut and a red-paper backdrop applied along the reverse. When viewed in person, the visual effect produced by that design is quite striking. This is one of the most visually appealing point-of-sale baseball display pieces we have ever seen, and we can only imagine the effect it had on potential customers when properly outfitted with the ball and gloves.

While we cannot pinpoint the exact date of this piece, we do know that it was issued sometime between the years 1925 and 1931. It was only during that seven-year span that Wilson (founded in 1913) was known as the Wilson-Western Sporting Goods Company. In 1931 the company shortened its name to Wilson Sporting Goods Company, which it has retained since that time. Wilson introduced the Ray Schalk catcher's mitt in 1922 and it remained a mainstay of its glove line for many years to come (hence its prominent placement within this display). This display piece (along with a number of other vintage Remington displays, which are offered elsewhere in this auction) was only recently discovered in the attic of a woman whose family owned a sporting-goods store in the 1920s. This is the first example of this Wilson display we have ever seen (it is definitely not something we would have forgotten over the years) and it very well might be one of only two surviving examples (we have heard of the existence of one other). Its extraordinary aesthetic appeal is matched only by its remarkable state of preservation. There are some minor abrasions along the top panel, and a few smaller, less noticeable surface abrasions on the central illustrated panel, as well as moderate staining to the red backdrop forming the Wilson name on the top panel (mainly to the "W" and the "O"). Those minor flaws aside (most of which could be restored), the display is in Excellent to Mint condition overall and remains a paragon of 1920s/early 1930s baseball advertising displays. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,896

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