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March 8, 1894, Syracuse YMCA Basketball Program - One of the Earliest Known Basketball Programs In Existence
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $593
Presented here is the second-earliest basketball program we have ever seen offered at public auction, dating just two years and four months following the invention of the game by Dr. James Naismith in December 1891. (The third-earliest basketball program, by one month, originating from the same source, also appears in this auction.) This program was issued for a series of athletic events between the Y.M.C.A. gymnasium and the Forty-First Separate Company, held at the state armory in Syracuse, New York, on March 8, 1894. The program lists eight events to be held that night, including pole vaulting and an obstacle course, with the finale being a game of basketball. Ideally, it is accompanied by a period newspaper clipping covering the event. Both the program and clippings originate directly from the family scrapbook of Dr. A. G. Courtney Jr., who, as noted both in the program and newspaper clipping, served as the referee for the basketball match. (A copy of an 1892 photo of Courtney, also from the scrapbook, is included in the lot.) The only other basketball program we have ever seen that predates this example is one from February 21, 1894, which also originated from Courtney's scrapbook. That program appeared at public auction in 2011 and realized a final sales price of $7,260. Both the precise date of the program and newspaper clipping are based on the vintage pencil notations written upon them, which were scripted by Courtney or a member of his family when they were placed in the album. The program (4.25 x 9 inches), which is simply a single sheet titled "Programme" at the top, is printed on thin paper stock and displays a number of flaws commensurate with its age and fragile nature. The program is unevenly toned and has three horizontal folds, a number of moderate tears, an area of paper loss along the right border, and light adhesive residue on the reverse from its having once been mounted in the scrapbook. In Good condition overall. The newspaper clipping (12.5 x 4.5 inches) is toned, with a few folds, and is in Very Good condition overall. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $593
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