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Lot # 1835 (of 1866)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Extraordinary Circa 1860s Star Base Ball Club Bib from Jersey

Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $1,659

Extremely rare bib front, in the design of a shield, that once adorned a circa 1860s jersey of the Star Base Ball Club. This is an extraordinary rarity! We have never before offered an 1860s baseball bib or bib front jersey. It is a given that very few have survived. (Jerseys even from circa 1900 are virtually nonexistent. Earlier examples are far rarer.) This is a particularly outstanding example in that it cannot be confused with a fireman's bib in that it reads "B.B.C." ("Base Ball Club").

The cloth bib (approximately 10 x 13.75 inches) reads "Star B. B. C." in red lettering and features a red trim along the border. Bib-front jerseys were common to most baseball uniforms during the 1860s and early 1870s, with the design similar to that of many fire uniforms of the era. That similarity was not coincidental. Most early men's social clubs were simply extensions of each neighborhood or town's local fire company. As baseball rose in popularity, those social clubs also sponsored baseball teams. Thus, many of the earliest baseball teams were composed of firemen. Alexander Joy Cartwright himself, one of the founding fathers of baseball, was a member of the New York Knickerbockers Fire Fighting Brigade several years before the Knickerbockers baseball team ever took the field in 1845. The early connection between fire companies and baseball is the reason many early baseball uniforms were designed in the style of fire uniforms (often displaying a bib-front shield design on the jersey).

The team name, "Star," was a common one for a ball club during the nineteenth century, so it is impossible to know for certain which "Star" team is represented by this bib. Given the extreme rarity of nineteenth-century bib-front baseball jerseys, this partial garment, which is the defining piece of the uniform, represents a most extraordinary museum-quality game-used garment dating from the earliest days of organized baseball. This piece is new to the modern collecting world. It was inherited by our our consignor in 1995 from his father (who had always thought it was a pennant) and aside from his father showing it to family and friends over the years, it has never seen the light of day for countless decades. The bib is heavily worn, commensurate with its age and former use, including light staining, a number of small holes, fading to the cloth, and moderate tears along the entire border. In Fair to Good condition overall, but still ideal for display. Reserve $300. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,659


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