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Lot # 26 (of 873)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1888 Mike Kelly Play Ball Book

Starting Bid - $1,500.00, Sold For - $4,600.00

Extraordinary example of one of the most desirable, and elusive, of all nineteenth century baseball books. The full title of this rarely seen volume is Play Ball - Stories of the Ball Field. 96 pages. 5.5 x 7.5 inches. This is an especially noteworthy book to collectors, not just because of its contents and extreme rarity (to the best of our knowledge, fewer than five examples are known), but also because the front cover features a woodcut portrait of Kelly. The back cover features a second woodcut of Kelly, a full-length in-uniform pose based on the classic "Four Base Hits" photograph of Kelly. One of the most highly prized of all early baseball volumes; this book holds the distinction of being the earliest published book of stories of the ball field by a professional baseball player. It is also a very substantial nineteenth-century display piece, and one of the best items relating to the great Mike "King" Kelly in the collecting world. Few players had the charisma of Mike Kelly. As one of the greatest, most popular and flamboyant stars of the nineteenth century, it is not surprising that a book based on his exploits should be published. It is, however, surprising that so few should survive. Perhaps this is related to its issue price of twenty-five cents, which was quite a steep price in 1888. This is the first example we have ever offered. It would be hard to imagine a more attractive copy. We believe this to be the finest example in existence. The somewhat low paper quality of the soft cover book makes serious condition problems a virtual certainty. This volume has had some very minor, extremely professional restoration to the cover, primarily along the spine and in repair of a tear. Some isolated repairs to interior corner chips give some indication of the extreme care, time, effort, and thought that has been invested in making sure that the restoration of this extremely fragile rarity was approached in the most ideal manner, without reference to cost, and only with reference to its ideal preservation. Strong Excellent appearance. Reserve $1,500. Estimate $3,000/$6,000. SOLD FOR $4,600.00

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