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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 7/20/2013

This is an extremely important and exceedingly rare rule book from one of the premier Base Ball Clubs of the mid 1800’s. Founded on December 8th of 1854, the Excelsior Base Ball Club of Brooklyn was one of the most prominent teams of the mid-19th Century and would later include Jim Creighton on its roster. Creighton was one of the game’s more significant and innovative players of the 19th Century and has been considered by many to be one of the most important players not in the Hall of Fame.  With just a bit over three weeks left in 1854 it is a virtual certainty that the rule book produced for 1855 was the earliest of its kind. The Hall of Fame in Cooperstown has an example of a similar Excelsior publication dated 1856, a year after this one.  While earlier obscure references to Base Ball and it’s more primitive incarnations can be found, these first known rule books are significant to memorabilia collectors and Baseball historians alike. They chronicle our National Pastime’s evolution to the game as we know it today. Produced a mere decade after the Knickerbocker Rules were drafted, this is certainly one of the oldest tomes of its kind to ever be offered.  This book came from a recent estate sale in New York and was pulled from a box of documents including land grants from the 19th and 18th centuries, and was owned by a descendent from one of the team members, and is being offered to our hobby for the first time.  To put this artifact into a somewhat more tangible perspective, it pre-dates our nation’s Civil War by over half a decade. This book seems to have also survived in tremendous condition with only a relatively small stain near the top edge of the front cover. The gilt edges seem to be in the same condition that they were in nearly 160 years ago, when this book was produced. The spine of the book, along with the 100% intact pages contained within, maintain the highest level of integrity and offer little evidence that this book was ever used or even opened. Book is 16 pages plus the cover.

  The book is incredible to view, including "ARTICLE IV : RULES FOR PLAYING  Section 1 The bases shall be from "Home" to second base forty-two paces..." And  Sec. 3 "The ball must be pitched, not thrown, for the bat."

The names of those associated with club have been hand written in script on the inside back cover(presumably by a team member who owned the book) and are period correct; the first name on the list being that of N. J. Tappan who was the club’s first President. The names of the six officers and directors of the club along with from what we can ascertain the original fourteen members of the club. This is, without doubt, a museum quality piece that will soon become an important centerpiece in an advanced collection. The historical significance and the visual aesthetics of this book cannot be overstated and exceed all expectations. We would like to thank The Baseball Hall of Fame for their help in authenticating this book as well as confirming it is the earliest known, and also would like to inform all bidders that Cooperstown would love to have this collectible in their Museum if the winning bidder was so inclined as to make a donation of it.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $2,500.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $51,626.25
Number Bids: 21
Auction closed on Saturday, July 20, 2013.
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