1834 Book of Sports by Robin Carver - Exceptional and Possibly Unique Volume

Sold For: $8,295

Auction Year: 2012 spring

Lot: 966

Item Year: 1834

Category: Pre-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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The Book of Sports by Robin Carver (Boston: Lilly, Wait, Colman, and Holden, 1834) is of astounding rarity and significance. The offered example is all the more extraordinary for the fact that it is a specially produced volume, featuring an ornate embossed cover and goldleaf accents (as opposed to simple boards with paper overlay as seen on all other copies). At the time of its publication, most books were issued in two forms: a low-cost one for the general populace and an elaborate high-end version that was normally produced exclusively for patrons of the arts and wealthy collectors building substantial libraries. Obviously, the high-end issue was produced in very limited numbers, resulting in its extreme rarity today. This is the only example of the 1834 Book of Sports that we have ever seen bound in such an elaborate and expensive manner, and it may be unique in that regard. The historical importance of "The Carver Book," as it is often referred to by scholars, cannot be overstated. It is the first volume published in America featuring the rules of the game of baseball, the first book to refer to baseball by name ("base or goal ball"), the first to have a diagram of the diamond, and the first to feature the famous woodcut illustration of boys playing baseball on the Boston Commons, which is the earliest published illustration of an actual American baseball game in progress, not to mention the most reproduced of all early baseball images. The Carver Book is universally recognized as an American classic and is at the top of nearly every list naming the most important early baseball volumes. It is also exceedingly rare. Fewer than ten copies are known to exist in private hands. We have been able to verify the existence of only five copies including this example. The 164-page book (5 x 6 inches) features embossed covers displaying ornate floral patterns and gold leaf accents on all three edges of each page. It's title, Book of Sports , appears on the cover in gilt lettering. Minor restoration is evident along the interior spine, which has been reinforced, and all of the pages have been professionally cleaned; however, a few still display small areas of light foxing/toning. The covers display moderate wear, including minor staining on both the front and back. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. This is, by far, the rarer issue of this book extant. All other known examples were produced cheaply for mass publication and feature plain boards with a small paper overlay on the cover bearing the title. Given its distinctive and superior construction, one can easily argue that it represents the finest known example. Its provenance is equally impressive. This book originates from The Barry Sloate Collection and was one of the key highlights of Barry's world-class baseball library. Barry purchased this volume privately many years ago and, to the best of his knowledge and ours, it has never before appeared at public auction. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire one of the single most important baseball volumes ever published, of astounding historic significance to the game of baseball and its development in America, in the most desirable issue extant. The book is beautifully presented in a custom-made folding solander case. From the Barry Sloate Collection. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,500+. SOLD FOR $8,295

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