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Lot # 40 (of 873)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Circa 1897 Page Fence Giants Advertising Trade Card

Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $5,750.00

The Page Fence Giants of Adrian, Michigan, were one of the most prominent of all black teams before the turn of the century. In the late 1890s, they were the premier Negro League team. Led by the legendary Charlie Grant, one of the greatest stars in the history of the game, in 1897 the Page Fence Giants won an incredible 82 games in a row. No history of early Negro League baseball is complete without including this historic club. Very little has survived from this landmark team, making this advertising trade card all the more significant. The Page Fence Giants were so named because the Page Woven Wire Fence Company of Adrian, Michigan, sponsored the team. Incredibly, the offered card (4.5 x 5.5 inches) is an advertising card issued by the Page Woven Wire Fence Company. It is printed on sturdy stock, and has advertising on the reverse for the company that sponsored the legendary Page Fence Giants. The back also features an illustration of a Page-brand Woven Wire Fence. Based on a comparison of the players featured and the lineups recorded in reference books, we believe this card dates to exactly 1897, though it is possible it is a year earlier or later. This is a card of astounding significance. It is the only Negro League team card with advertising from this era we have seen. The fact that it features the top Negro League club of the day, and includes Charlie Grant, the greatest Negro League star of the era, makes this a "miracle card." It is the only example we have ever seen or heard of, though it is our understanding from our consignor that another example apparently does exist, and that the two cards were long ago found together, as it is our consignor's recollection that he purchased this card as a duplicate from its previous owner, approximately 20 years ago. There is no question that this is, in fact, a card. The design and stock alone define this as an advertising card, and the advertising on the reverse is viewed at the invitation of the obverse, which reads "(over)" at the base, below player identifications. To the best of our knowledge, this card has never been catalogued. It is an honor for Robert Edward Auctions to present this extremely rare and historically significant card to the collecting world. As an additional historical note, Charlie Grant came very close to being the first black player of the twentieth century to play in the major leagues. John McGraw attempted to break the color barrier by signing the straight-haired, high cheek-boned, and light complexioned Charlie Grant to a Baltimore Orioles contract (Grant's physical characteristics are easily seen on this card, in which he is pictured in the front row, second from right). Grant was renamed "Charlie Tokohama" and was presented to the world as being a Cherokee Indian. White Sox president Charles Comiskey discovered the deception. Grant was exposed and banned from the white leagues. Grant's banishment is credited with playing a major role in the birth of a new generation of independent black teams, which soon flourished in the early twentieth century. Condition flaws include some spot surface paper loss, most notably in the lower right, a hint of residue on reverse from apparently long ago being stored in a scrapbook and later removed. A few pencil marks on obverse blend in with the black and white color scheme of the photograph. In light of technical flaws, this is a very difficult card to grade, but it still presents beautifully with a very impressive look. We grade this card overall Good condition. We understand that placing a value on this card may prove even more difficult, as we can think of no other cards even remotely similar for comparison. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $1,000/$10,000. SOLD FOR $5,750.00

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