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Nineteenth-Century Baseball Belt with "Base Ball Club" Lettering
Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $1,200
Rare nineteenth-century baseball-uniform belt dating from the earliest days of organized baseball. The most distinguishing feature of this black-leather belt is the team name, reading "B. S. B. B. C.," painted in gold on the front. The fact that this belt actually displays the initials "B. B. C." is highly significant. Many similar-style belts from the era display just a name, such as "Empire" or "Knickerbocker," and therefore cannot be definitely identified as having been part of a baseball uniform. The reason for that relates to the manner in which many early baseball clubs were formed. Most of the men's social clubs at the time 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 why many early baseball uniforms were designed in the style of fire uniforms (often displaying a shield design on the front of the jersey). As a cost-cutting move, members would then use the belts from their fire uniforms with their baseball uniforms. For that reason, most early nineteenth-century firefighters’ belts are indistinguishable from baseball belts. That is not the case here! This belt is clearly designated as having been worn by a member of a baseball team by the initials "B. B. C." (Base Ball Club). Unfortunately, the exact identity of the team will probably never be known ("B. S." could refer to any number of towns or organizations throughout the country). Nevertheless, it remains an exceedingly rare nineteenth-century baseball belt and only the second example we have seen with defining "baseball club" lettering or markings. The belt (36 x 2.75 inches) is well worn, displaying a number of cracks and abrasions along the semi-hardened leather. Both the buckles and straps remain completely intact. Very Good condition overall. Reserve $300. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,200
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