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Lot # 1138 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1755 First Edition of The Card - Earliest Extant Book Referencing Baseball

Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $1,422.00

Presented is an extraordinarily significant museum-caliber book that literally represents the dawn of baseball history in published form: The Card. The two-volume novel The Card, published in 1755, might be known to only a few English literary scholars, if not for its one singular point of enormous historical distinction: it is the earliest book extant in which a reference to "base ball" appears in print. Offered here is an exceedingly rare first-edition print of The Card, complete in two volumes, written by the Reverend John Kidgell (London: Printed for the maker, and sold by J. Newbery, 1755). Our national pastime makes its one and only appearance in the book in Volume 1, page 9, within the following passage:

"The younger Part of the Family, perceiving Papa not inclined to enlarge upon the matter, retired to an interrupted Party at Base-Ball (an infant Game, which as it advances in its Teens, improved into Fives, and in its State of Manhood, is called Tennis.)"

It is interesting to note the author deems baseball a child's game, whereas Fives (which was an English game similar to handball) was meant for older kids and Tennis for adults. It should be mentioned that the first documented appearance of the word "base ball" in print occurred in 1744 in the book A pretty Little Pocket-Book, Intended for the Instruction and Amusements of Little Master Tommy and Pretty Miss Polly (written and published by John Newberry, London). Unfortunately, no copies of that 1744 book, or any of the eight subsequent editions are known to exist. The earliest example extant of A Pretty Little Pocket-Book is the 10th English edition, printed in 1760. Therefore, the offered work, The Card, printed in 1755, remains the earliest surviving book in which the term "base ball" can be found. This is the first example of The Card that we have ever seen, let alone offered, and we would not be surprised if this is the first instance of one ever appearing in a sports auction. Both hard-bound volumes (4.25 x 6.5 inches), featuring plain, brown boards, are nearly identical in condition. Both the title and the respective volume number appear in print on each book's spine. Moderate-to-heavy wear is evident along the exteriors, while the pages, which are all firmly bound, display a few areas of light, scattered toning. A few light pencil notations appear in each book on the first few pages, and on the last page of Volume 1. In Very Good condition overall. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,422.00

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