Circa 1850s "Belt Ball Style" Baseball

Sold For: $3,851

Auction Year: 2012 spring

Lot: 973

Item Year: 1850

Category: Pre-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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This early baseball, commonly referred to as a "belt" or "belted" ball, is so named due to the design of the stitching, which resembles an "H" in the center. Normally comprised of just one strip of leather, the offered "belt" ball is a variation of that design and was crafted using three separate pieces of leather (two circular side panels, and a long rectangular center piece). In the late 1850s the National Association of Baseball Players changed the standard specifications of a regulation ball. The new rules required that the baseball weigh 6.25 ounces (up from the previous standard of 5.5 ounces) and have a circumference of 10.25 inches (as opposed to the earlier measurement of 9 inches). The offered ball measures nine inches in circumference and weighs 4.2 ounces, which indicates that it probably dates prior to that rule change. Most of the balls that have survived from this era are crude homemade examples; however, the tight stitching on most to this ball indicates that it was probably made by a skilled craftsman. The ball displays wear commensurate with its age and former use, including heavy crazing to the leather on the two side panels, and a few minor abrasions. There is a slight separation along a few segments of the seam lines where it appears that the original stitching was torn and then later repaired (obviously a vintage, period repair). Regardless, this remains a rare and exceptional and extremely rare "belt" ball dating from the earliest days of our national pastime. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $3,851

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