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1919 Presentation Edition of Commy Signed by Charles Comiskey (with inscription to Judge Landis)
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $1,778
This extremely rare presentation piece, a signed and numbered limited first edition of Commy by G. W. Axelson, is by far the most intriguing example we have ever offered because of its unique provenance and by virtue of an enigmatic inscription on the signature page. This volume originates directly from the estate of Charles A. Comiskey II, who was the grandson of Charles A. Comiskey, and was just recently acquired at an estate sale of the home Charles A. Comiskey II (he passed away in 2007). According to our consignor, who has provided a notarized letter of provenance, this was the only baseball book (or baseball item of any kind) that he found in his library at the time of the sale and, recognizing it might have value, he purchased it. Like the other presentation volumes, the offered book is signed in black fountain pen (grading "10") by Charles Comiskey and bears the handwritten limited number of "68" (only 200 volumes were signed and numbered in this manner). What makes this volume all the more intriguing is a printed black-ink notation found along the top border of the Comiskey-signed page that reads "To my Dear friend Hon Kenesaw M. Landis." It should be noted that according to James Spence Authentication, this inscription is NOT in the hand of Charles Comiskey, which then gives rise to the question: who wrote it? Unfortunately, we do not know. If it had been presented to Landis (who died in 1944) by Comiskey or a family member, then how did it end up in the possession of Comiskey's grandson years later? If it were not presented (or intended to be presented) to Landis, then why write that inscription? Maybe someone in the Comiskey family wrote it simply as a joke, noting the irony of such an inscription, in the hopes that someday someone would be perplexed by it as we are now. Whatever the story behind the inscription, and especially combined with its provenance, it certainly makes this one of the most unusual examples of this rare and highly desirable signed presentation books, not to mention a wonderful conversation piece.
The limited-edition Commy presentation volume is an extremely important and rare signed baseball book. Published by The Reilly & Lee Co. (Chicago, 1919), the decorative cover features both an embossed title and image of Comiskey in a batting pose. As noted earlier, this book is one of only 200 special presentation copies signed by Comiskey on the limitation page. Only the rare signed presentation copies feature the beautiful embossed cover (standard editions of Commy are bound in cheaply produced plain cloth-covered boards). These special presentation copies have long been considered one of the premier Comiskey signed pieces in the hobby and, because of their extremely low limitation number, only a handful of surviving copies are known. Further distinguishing this piece, much like a bank check, is the inherent authenticity of the signature. Authentic Comiskey signatures are actually much rarer than most collectors realize, as it has come to light in recent years that many correspondences and documents previously thought to have been signed by Comiskey were in fact ghost-signed by longtime team secretary Harry Grabiner. Comiskey passed away in 1931 at the age of seventy-two. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939. It is ironic that this book, which was written in celebration of Charles Comiskey’s many years in baseball, both as a player and owner, was published in 1919. It was in that year that eight members of Comiskey’s Chicago White Sox, mostly out of frustration over Comiskey’s penurious ways, conspired to “throw” the World Series, thus forever tarnishing Comiskey’s image in the minds of fans and historians. The 320-page book displays heavy wear. The front cover is completely detached (but present) and the leather covering over the spine has been removed. A number of pencil notations are evident in the margins of some pages, as are underlined passages. In Poor to Fair condition overall, yet still presentable, with no flaws at all to the all-important signature page. This extremely rare signed presentation first edition is a significant prize for any signed-book collection, baseball Hall of Fame autograph collection, or world-class baseball library. Accompanying the book are various letters and personal business papers from the estate of Charles A. Comiskey II, as well as his 1944 high-school yearbook, that while not baseball-related, were acquired from the estate sale at the same time, and are included simply because they relate to provenance. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000+. SOLD FOR $1,778
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