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Rare 1887 St. Louis Browns Souvenir Silk Sheet with Charles Comiskey - Only Complete Example Known
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $2,666
Decorative silk sheet issued by the St. Louis Browns as a special souvenir keepsake to its female patrons on opening day 1887, complete with its original paper backing featuring the team’s season schedule and roster. This is both one of the rarest and most attractive nineteenth-century baseball items extant. While we do not know exactly how many of these delicate silks have survived, the number is certainly quite low. We have only seen one other at public auction in the past fifteen years and the offered example is, to the best of our knowledge, the only one that has survived in its originally issued state (with accompanying paper backing). The exquisitely designed silk (5.5 x 9.5 inches) features a large game-in-progress illustration surrounded by portrait images of twelve team members, including Charles Comiskey, who is pictured at the top, and team owner Chris Von der Ahe, pictured in the center. An illustration of a beautiful woman watching a game at the ballpark is also prominently displayed. The inclusion of the woman is explained by the fact that this silk was only issued to female patrons on opening day in 1887. That information is made explicit by the text that reads “Souvenir/of the/Opening of the Season 1887/To The Lady Visitors/St. Louis Browns/With Compliments/Chris Von der Ahe Pres’t.” The original paper backing, which is attached to the silk by a small red string in the upper left corner, features the St. Louis Browns home schedule for the 1887 season and roster of the club. It also makes note of the club's status as "Champions of the World." The reverse displays an illustration of a Browns player standing next to a flag that reads "World's Champions." The Browns were indeed the toast of the baseball world at the start of the 1887 baseball season. As Champions of the American Association in 1886, they defeated the Chicago White Stockings in the World Series that fall to capture their first and only World Championship in franchise history. The fact that this piece was only issued to female patrons (who made up a very small portion of the crowd) and only on Opening Day in 1887, combined with its fragile nature, are all factors that no doubt contribute to its extreme rarity today. Both the silk and paper backing were horizontally folded at one point, as a slight fold line is still evident on the silk, while the fold on the paper backing ultimately resulted in a complete tear along that line. The tear to the backing was subsequently repaired with white tape on the reverse. The silk also displays a minor diagonal crease and a tiny area of light discoloration, both of which are located in the lower left. Despite the minor condition flaws, the silk remains in Excellent condition overall. Without regard to the repaired tear, the backing, which is only slightly larger than the silk, is also in Excellent condition. This is a remarkable nineteenth-century display piece and one that would be a significant addition to even the most advanced collection. Disclosure per section 13 of REA's terms and conditions: This lot has been consigned from the personal collection of an executive or employee of Robert Edward Auctions (or a relative of an executive or employee). Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $2,666
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