Circa 1890s Spalding Display Box

Sold For: $533

Auction Year: 2012 spring

Lot: 989

Item Year: 1899

Category: Pre-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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Extremely rare Spalding display box, featuring a hinged lid and three interior compartments, dating from the turn of the century. The wooden box features the Spalding logo stamped on the top of the lid, as well as all four sides. While we have no way to definitively date this box, since the style logo depicted here can be seen in the company's advertising as far back as 1884 (the company was founded in 1876). We have only seen one other example of this type of box, which appeared at public auction in 2010 and realized a final sales price of $13,035. The other example was notable for the fact that it had seven vintage Spalding mini bats nailed to the top of the lid. What is most interesting regarding the offered box is that while it does not now display or contain any mini bats, a vertical row of seven nail holes are visible on the lid that suggest it too once displayed seven mini bats. This particular box, however, unlike the previously cited one (which was all wood with no metal components), displays metal hardware in the form of two rear hinges connecting the lid to the main body, a metal handle on the lid, and two metal locking clasps on the front edge of the lid. A metal locking mechanism is located on the inside of the front panel, but the outer metal covering for the lock opening is no longer present. All of the hardware appears original to the piece. When the other example appeared at auction in 2010, the catalog description noted that it was not clear whether the box was intended as a salesman's sample case, or a retail display box. Although we cannot conclusively remove the ambiguity surrounding the box's original purpose, it should be noted that the three partitioned compartments inside are perfectly spaced to hold exactly five baseballs. Given that fact, plus the presence of a carrying handle and lock, we would vote for salesman's sample box. The company's line of various baseballs were probably housed inside while mini replicas of the company's bat line decorated the top. Regardless of its former use, this is an extremely early, rare, and attractive Spalding box dating from the company's earliest days as the nation's leading supplier of baseball equipment, and one that would compliment any advanced nineteenth-century baseball collection. The box displays moderate-to-heavy wear commensurate with its age and former use and is in Very Good condition overall. Reserve $300. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $533

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