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1894 Zimmer's Base Ball Game
Starting Bid - $2,500, Sold For - $10,665
The Zimmer's Base Ball Game is the most spectacular of all baseball games, and one of the most highly prized of all nineteenth-century baseball display pieces of any type. This game was produced by McGoughlin Brothers, the premier game-maker of the day. It was endorsed and designed by Cleveland catcher "Chief" Zimmer. The Zimmer's Base Ball Game is with good reason referred to as "The Mona Lisa of all baseball games" by Dr. Mark Cooper in his definitive work on the subject, Baseball Games, Home Versions of the National Pastime 1860s-1960s (1995, Shiffler Publishing). It is extremely rare, with fewer than ten known examples, and features a beautiful full-color board, which includes identified portraits of eighteen star players, including eleven Hall of Famers. The players in the field are Buck Ewing, Amos Rusie, Dan Brouthers, John Ward, John Glasscock, Billy Hamilton, Jimmy McAleer, and Sam Thompson. Along the first baseline are portraits of the players in the "dugout": Cy Young, Kid Nichols, W. Zimmer (unknown, probably a relative of Chief Zimmer), Jacob Virtue, Bud McPhee, Patsy Tebeau, Ed Delahanty, and Gemany Smith. "Chief" Zimmer is most prominently featured in front of home plate. It is amusing that Zimmer chose nine Cleveland players, including himself, to be represented on the two all-star teams fielded in the game, but fortunately Cleveland had many great stars, including Buck Ewing and Cy Young. Chief Zimmer was one of the first players to actively pursue marketing ventures. His Zimmer-brand cigars were also one of the earliest of all player-endorsed cigars.
The game displays normal surface wear commensurate with its age and former use, including a light surface-paper tear running vertically through the directions near the third-base line, minor surface abrasions in the home plate and pitcher's areas, and minor chipping to the wood frame. The original bat is included, but the wooden "spring-action" peg that was used to "pitch" the ball from the mound is no longer present (a replacement can easily be made if desired). Considering its intended use by youngsters, this example has survived in remarkably fine condition. Most important, it displays beautifully. The colors remain strong and all of the portraits are free of any serious damage. This is not a game which is known to exist in Mint condition. This is an action game, designed to "pitch" a wooden ball launched by a wooden spring-action "pitcher." When the ball is hit, metal pieces above each player's portrait in the field are designed to "catch" the ball. There is a lot of damage that can happen to this game just by normal use. We have seen some Zimmer games that suffered severe surface wear, including paper loss, just from the ball rubbing countless hundreds of times on the surface, a problem this example does not have. Overall Very Good condition. Dimensions: 21.25 x 21.25 inches, surrounded on all four sides by wood "stadium wall" sides, which are 1.5-inches in height. The game is encased in a magnificent custom-made Plexiglas case with a wooden base that has been fitted with a framing wire on the reverse so that it can be hung on the wall. This is an outstanding nineteenth-century player-endorsed baseball game that is extraordinary for display! Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000/$10,000. SOLD FOR $10,665
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