1868 Deacon/Muller Baseball Figural Statue ("Pitcher") with Rare Advertising Card

Sold For: $3,600

Auction Year: 2017 spring

Lot: 1753

Item Year: 1868

Category: Pre-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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Exceedingly rare and highly prized baseball figural piece, depicting a pitcher, dating from 1868. Ideally, the figure is accompanied by the even rarer original advertising card issued by the artist at the time. The figure, which is crafted in white metal and coated in bronze, was produced by Deacon and Muller, who were among the most prominent artists of their day with regard to baseball figural pieces. (Muller is best known today for his exquisite figural baseball clock produced in 1876.) This piece was costly for the time (according to the card, it and a companion piece depicting a "striker" were sold as a pair for $16), so despite the high degree of craftsmanship only a small number were sold, with even fewer having survived to the present day. As noted on the accompanying advertising card, Deacon promoted his artworks as "Base Ball Statuettes, suitable for Prizes for Matches and Tournaments, Interesting and Beautiful Ornaments for the Parlour." It also notes that both a "catcher" and "short stop" figural were scheduled to be produced in bronze provided he received 100 orders. The fact that neither has ever been seen probably indicates that his self-imposed order quota was never met, leaving only the pitcher and striker available to collectors today. Lettered in relief on the base of the statue is "K. Muller & J Deacon Pat 1868." A second credit on the underside reads "N. Muller N.Y. N: 532/Patent 1868." The figure displays surface wear commensurate with its age, as well as a very slight crack along the backside of the pitching arm adjacent to the shirt cuff that in no way detracts from its overall Excellent to Mint appearance. The advertising card (4 x 2.5 inches), in addition to the promotional text on the front, features a baseball scorecard on the reverse that has been neatly scored in pencil for a game between Yale and Lowell (Yale won the game by a score of 13-12). The date of the game, "June 13/68," is written along the top border. (Perhaps the Yale team, or each member of the club, received and example of this trophy for their victory that day.) The card, printed on thin paper stock, displays light toning and is in Excellent to Mint condition overall, which is quite remarkable given its fragile nature. This particular statue is one of the most highly prized of all extant nineteenth-century baseball figural pieces and one that would be a worthy addition to even the most advanced nineteenth-century baseball memorabilia or early American figural collection. The fact that it also includes the original advertising card (we have never seen another example) makes it especially appealing. 7.5 (L) x 3.25 (W) x 10 (H) inches. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).

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