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1879 Alexander Cartwright Signed Check
Starting Bid - $2,000, Sold For - $3,851
Exceedingly rare bank check signed by Alexander Joy Cartwright, one of the founding fathers of baseball. The check, dated February 3, 1879, and drawn on the Bishop & Co. Bank of Honolulu, is made out to Manual Paiko in the amount of $100 and is signed "Alex J. Cartwright" in black ink (grading "10"). The check is endorsed on the back by "M. Paiko" in black ink. Cartwright is one of the most significant of all nineteenth-century baseball signatures and one of the key rarities of all Hall of Famer checks. In fact, this is one of only two bank checks we have ever seen signed by Alexander Cartwright. It also has the special provenance of having once resided in the legendary collection of Barry Halper, who acquired nearly all of his many Alexander Cartwright items directly from the Cartwright family. The inherent authenticity of signed checks and the long-standing great popularity of collecting Hall of Famer checks makes this one of the most desirable Alexander Cartwright signature examples in existence. This check was first offered to the public by Sotheby's in 1999 as part of the historic sale of Halper's collection (Lot 146), where it realized a final sales price of $9,200. It has remained in the possession of the original purchaser until this time. The only other Cartwright bank check we have ever seen offered at auction (also made out to Paiko) sold for $11,404 in 2006.
Alexander Cartwright, who was one of the original members of the New York Knickerbockers, is credited with having formulated many of the modern rules of baseball in 1846. He left New York in 1849 and headed west to claim his fortune during the California gold rush. Failing to hit "pay dirt," he traveled on to Honolulu, Hawaii, where his fortunes quickly improved. Within two years he opened his own firm as a whaling and commission merchant. The business soon expanded to include matters of banking, handling of trust estates, insurance, and real estate, which later led to the formation of Cartwright and Company Ltd., a firm that survives to this day. Manual Paiko was one of the first Portuguese to settle in Hawaii and he ultimately become a successful cattle merchant. He was a long-standing client of Cartwright's and both men were considered among the Island's most prominent businessmen. Cartwright later became an advisor to Hawaii’s royal family. In addition to introducing the game of baseball to the Hawaiian Islands, Cartwright is also credited with founding the first fire department in Honolulu. Cartwright died in 1892 at the age of seventy-two. His contributions to the game of baseball were formally recognized in 1939, when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The check (7.25 x 2.75 inches) displays slightly rough borders and a spindle hole in the center that has been repaired by clear tape on the reverse. A bank cancellation stamp (touching upon the Carthwright signature) appears on the front. Without reference to the tape repair on the reverse, the check is in Excellent to Mint condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $3,851
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