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1863 Union Prisoners at Salisbury Civil War Baseball Lithograph
Starting Bid - $10,000, Sold For - $11,850
This magnificent full-color print (38.5 x 24.5 inches) is universally recognized as the premier 1860s baseball lithograph as well as one of the earliest color renditions featuring baseball as a subject. The striking illustration depicts Union prisoners playing baseball under Confederate guard in Salisbury, North Carolina. The print, published in 1863 by Goupil & Co., New York, from a lithograph by Sarony, Major & Knapp (449 Broadway, N. York) is titled Union Prisoners at Salisbury, N.C. Printed below the title is the artist's credit "Drawn From Nature By Act. Major Otto Boetticher." This is one of the most impressive and historically important of all baseball display pieces. There are probably no more than a dozen Union Prisoners prints known to exist, including one housed in the Baseball Hall of Fame and another in the New York Public Library. This is an exceptional example of what most advanced collectors consider to be the most significant of all nineteenth-century baseball lithographs. The print is of special historical significance in that the Civil War was largely responsible for the game of baseball spreading throughout the country. Thousands of soldiers learned to play baseball during the Civil War, and upon returning home, they introduced the game to friends and neighbors in their hometowns. In a very short period of time, the sport was played in every town in the land, soon earning the title "The National Pastime."
Union Prisoner prints usually have substantial background staining due to chemical reactions between the paper used for the prints and the wood slats of the frames which traditionally housed them. This example is no exception, but it is much cleaner than most. A vertical line of light staining, extending from the base to approximately the midpoint of the print, is evident near the center. A few other small stains (very unobtrusive) are also evident. Despite those minor flaws (common to nearly all examples), this piece is easily one of the most attractive and high-grade of the very few examples we have handled. Without reference to the central stain (which of course could be treated by a professional conservator if desired), the print is in Excellent condition overall and will most assuredly be the centerpiece of any wall upon which it is displayed.
The 1863 Union Prisoners at Salisbury print is one of baseball's most spectacular display pieces, and one of the few with a significance that transcends the world of sports collecting, being equally highly prized by collectors of Baseball, Americana, Civil War memorabilia and nineteenth-century lithography as well. Matted and framed to total dimensions of 47 x 32 inches. The substantial size/weight of this item requires that there will be a shipping charge for this lot (which will vary depending upon where it is being shipped). The shipping charge will be billed separately from the auction invoice. Reserve $10,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $11,850
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