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Lot # 1179 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1888 Play Ball by Mike "King" Kelly

Starting Bid - $100.00, Sold For - $533.25

Exceedingly rare copy of Play Ball, by Mike "King" Kelly. First edition, published by Press of Emery & Hughes, Boston, 1888. This 96-page soft-cover volume is one of the most desirable and elusive of all nineteenth-century baseball books. Over the past forty years, we have seen or heard of fewer than ten copies of this extreme rarity. It also holds the distinction of being the earliest published book relating stories of the ball field as told by a professional baseball player. This is one of the most interesting and substantial items relating to the great Mike "King" Kelly in the collecting world. Few players had the charisma of Mike Kelly. Since he was 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 surprising, however, that so few should survive. Perhaps this is related to its issue price of twenty-five cents, which was quite steep in 1888. The somewhat low-quality paper of the soft cover book makes serious condition problems a virtual certainty. This volume is no exception. The front cover, which featured a woodcut portrait of Kelly, is no longer present. To remedy that situation, a former owner took the back cover, which pictures a full-length woodcut image of Kelly as a member of the Boston Red Stockings, and had it professionally rebound on the front. A plain gray replacement cover was then similarly bound on the reverse. The present front cover has been reinforced with conservation materials on the reverse for optimal preservation and presentation. The pages are slightly toned, with a few minor edge tears; otherwise they are generally clean and bright, and remain firmly attached at the spine. Dimensions: 5.5 x 7.5 inches. Reserve $100. Estimate $400+. SOLD FOR $533.25

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