Circa 1890s John Clarkson Cigar Box - Only Known Example!

Sold For: $1,320

Auction Year: 2016 fall

Lot: 1483

Item Year: 1890

Category: Pre-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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Exceedingly rare cigar box, manufactured by J. G. Clarkson & Co., featuring an illustration of Hall of Fame pitcher John Clarkson on the interior label. Pictured below Clarkson's image are various pieces of baseball equipment, including bats, balls, gloves, and catching gear, as well as floral embellishments. Remnants of an identically designed label appear on the exterior right panel and underside of the box. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the only example of a John Clarkson cigar box, as we have never seen or heard of another. It is also one of the earliest player-endorsed cigar boxes we have seen. While a number of prominent Hall of Fame players had their own cigar brand, including Honus Wagner, Cy Young, and Ty Cobb, Clarkson was the only one who actually produced his brand as well. After his retirement from baseball in 1894, Clarkson and his wife purchased a cigar store and manufactory in Bay City, Michigan. They later expanded their cigar business to included a wholesale operation and additional retail stores, including one in Chicago, where he once played. Despite the fact that his cigar operations occupied him for over a decade, John Clarkson cigar boxes are nonexistent today, with the exception of this lone survivor. The box (7.75 x 4.75 x 1.25 inches), which displays the name "Clarkson" on the lid, displays moderate wear to the exterior, including tears to the Clarkson label on the right panel and underside. The interior label displays a tiny tear along the top border and is otherwise in Excellent condition. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. Its rarity notwithstanding, this is an exceptional nineteenth-century baseball-themed cigar box and one that would be among the highlights of any advanced nineteenth-century baseball or tobacco collection. Reserve $500. Estimate (open).

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