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1860 Brooklyn Stars Constitution
Starting Bid - $5,000, Sold For - $5,925
Exceedingly rare 1860 Constitution and By-Laws of the Star Base Ball Club of Brooklyn (Mann, Stearns & Beale, New York, 1860). Twenty-seven pages. This is one of only two examples of this early and remarkably significant baseball constitution in existence. Very few early nineteenth-century baseball constitutions have survived, with many of the existing copies housed in libraries and museums. They are the foundation documents of both the game of baseball as an organized sport, and of the specific clubs for which they were issued, in this case the legendary Brooklyn Stars, one of the most celebrated and important teams of the nineteenth century that literally put Brooklyn "on the map" in early baseball history. The offered volume outlines the bylaws of the club and the rules of the game of baseball by which club members must adhere. In these early days, the first baseball clubs were as much social clubs as teams organized for sport. The publishing of formal requirements for membership, and the rules of baseball, was a very significant part of the evolution of the game and provided the foundation blueprint for the organization of other baseball teams, the number of which grew exponentially following the Civil War. It should be noted that these constitutions were published for distribution only to team members, thus accounting for their extreme rarity today.
The Star Base Ball Club of Brooklyn, which was founded in 1856, is best known today for its most famous member: James Creighton, who played with the club in 1858 and 1859. It was during a game against the Star Club in 1857 that Creighton debuted his new pitching method that revolutionized the sport and made him the greatest attraction in the game at the time. The members of the Star Club were so impressed with Creighton that they immediately recruited him as a member. However, his fame grew so great that he was eventually lured away (many say by a cash inducement) after the 1859 season by the more prominent Brooklyn Excelsiors. Creighton died (according to legend having ruptured his spleen or bladder during a powerful swing at bat) in 1862 at the age of twenty-one after hitting a home run, the occurrence of which only further served to immortalize his name and legacy.
Amazingly, there is a "Creighton" listed in the constitution as a team member. However, the Creighton noted here is "H. J. Creighton," not James Creighton. Unfortunately, our research has failed to discover if the men were related. Along with "H. J. Creighton" there are an additional fifty-five members listed here, with "G. Douglas Tracy" noted as president and "Fred. A. Whiting" as "secretary" under the heading of "Officers [May 11, 1860]." Interestingly, this may have been Whiting's personal copy that he later presented to a friend based upon a vintage pencil notation on the first page that reads "With Regards of F. A. Whiting." A few handwritten corrections are evident among the pages, including a change in the amount of dues owed by each member (one dollar per quarter was raised to fifty cents per month).
The constitution measures 3.25 x 5.5 inches. Both the original front and back covers are missing and the volume was subsequently rebound in leather. However, it must be noted that rebinding was obviously done many decades ago, very likely long before the turn of the century. The new binding, which includes a built-in clasp on the front cover, displays heavy wear, including tears along the edges and to the front clasp. A few of the pages display light foxing, but are otherwise clean and bright. Interestingly, when the book was rebound, a number of blank score sheets were added to the rear of the volume (none of which have been filled out), consisting of an additional six sheets of paper. Without reference to the missing covers, the volume is in Excellent condition overall. The book is housed in a custom-made solander, with gilt-stamped lettering on the front, for optimal preservation and display. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $5,925
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