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Lot # 1103 (of 1866)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Circa 1905 "Kelley Slide" Tobacco Advertising Sign

Starting Bid - $200, Sold For - $1,659

Extremely rare retail sign, issued by the Michigan Tobacco Company, promoting the company's line of "Kelley Slide" Plug Cut Smoking Tobacco. The colorful advertising piece pictures an image of a generic ballplayer sliding head first into a base, with illustrations of baseball bats and balls adorning the perimeter. Produced by the "Detroit Litho Co. LTD." The name of the product, of course, capitalizes on the fame of nineteenth-century baseball star Mike "King" Kelly (despite spelling Kelly's name "Kelley"). Kelly was known for his daring base running and his exploits often occasioned a cry of "Slide, Kelly, Slide" by the jubilant home crowd. The cheer became so familiar at games that a popular song by that name was later written, which forever immortalized the future Hall of Famer. Kelley died in 1895, so his memory was still fresh in the minds of baseball fans everywhere at the time this sign was produced. Although undated, our research uncovered an advertisement for "Kelley Slide" tobacco in the 1905 Michigan Ensian, Volume 9, which helps to approximate the sign's age. It is also possible that the sign dates from slightly earlier (which would be consistent with the misspelling of Kelly's name, which was presumably intentional). This is the first example of this piece we have ever seen. The cardboard sign (7.5 x 10.75 inches) has a preformed hole along the top border so that it can hang on a wall. The cardboard sign has light wear, including light foxing, minor creasing, and general corner wear. There is also a tack hole in the center of the piece (in the area of the player's cap). A number of mathematical pencil notations appear on the reverse. Despite the flaws, the colors remain bright and vibrant, and the piece has an overall Excellent appearance. Reserve $200. Estimate $400+. SOLD FOR $1,659


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