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Lot # 629 (of 1525)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1867 Silver Trophy Baseball

Starting Bid - $2,000.00, Sold For - $8,700.00

In the 1860s, the ultimate prize that could be won by a team for being victorious in an organized baseball tournament was a "silver ball." The coveted "silver ball" was the earliest formal baseball trophy, presented to honor the tournament champions, as opposed to a "trophy baseball," which was an elaborately decorated game ball which was presented to the victors of a specific game for display in their clubhouse. Silver ball trophies, so named because they are literally crafted by artisans of silver, are the earliest form of championship trophies. In the 1860s, cigars were named after them, songs were written about them, and many battles were fought over them. Surprisingly, almost no examples of silver balls have survived. This is one of only two championship silver balls we have ever encountered, and the only example that we have ever seen at auction anywhere ever. This silver ball appeared in Robert Edward Auctions' January 1994 catalog as lot 183. It sold for $4,480 and has been consigned to this auction directly from the original purchaser. Even when offered in 1994, our catalog description noted that, to the best of our knowledge, this was the first silver trophy baseball ever to be offered at public auction. We suspect that the explanation for their great rarity is combination of several factors: 1) Each silver trophy ball represented many games, therefore relatively few were ever needed for presentation; 2) They were very expensive. One advertisement of the era quoted a price of $10 for a silver ball. This was a lot of money in the 1860s, and probably caused many baseball tournaments and leagues to pass on the purchase of a silver ball due to expense; and 3) Because they are made out of silver, some may have fallen victim to being melted down over the years. The lemon-peel style silver presentation trophy baseball is beautifully engraved "Franklin County Base Ball Association, Organized 1867." The lemon peel style is unique to the 1860s. This silver trophy ball is of the highest quality craftsmanship and is truly a work of art. Mint condition. Reserve $2,000. Estimate $4,000/$6,000. SOLD FOR $8,700.00

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