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1913 W. B. Jarvis Ty Cobb Trophy Cup and Related Advertisement
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $1,800
Exceedingly rare "Ty Cobb Trophy Cup," issued by the W. B. Jarvis Co., together with a vintage advertising flyer promoting the cup, and a W. B. Jarvis form letter dating from 1913. This is only the second example of this trophy cup we have ever seen and for it to be accompanied by its vintage promotional flyer is nothing short of miraculous. One side of the silver-colored cup features a bust-length image of Cobb (in street clothes wearing a hat) that has been fashioned in relief. The engraved wording "Ty Cobb Brand" and an image of a baseball are displayed at the base of Cobb's image. The other side of the cub features a shield design that has been specially engraved: "Ty Cobb/Trophy/Presented By/W. B. Jarvis Co/Detroit-Grand Rapids/Grammer School/Championship/Relay Team/Class A/1913." The accompanying promotional flyer displays a large image of the Ty Cobb Trophy Cup and provides details as to exactly how it can be obtained. According to the flyer, the Trophy Cub was available to "Colleges, Schools, Y. M. C. A.'s, Playground Associations and other organizations" free of charge with an order of $100 or more from the W. B. Jarvis catalog. As further noted in the text, the cup displayed on the flyer displays a baseball emblem, but emblems for other sports were also available. The concluding text notes that "Ty Cobb Brand Athletic Goods are sold only by progressive dealers in Sporting Goods or sent prepaid by us when cash accompanies order." The flyer has been matted together with a one-paged typed letter from the W. B. Jarvis Co., on company letterhead. Nearly all of the text of the letter has badly faded over time, but enough words remain legible to see that it is a form letter sent out to various schools and organizations promoting the company's line of goods. The letter is addressed to "Superintendent of Schools" and is dated "Mar. 10, 1913." The letter features the "Ty Cobb Brand" logo in the upper-left corner and the names of the company officers in the upper-right corner, includingTy Cobb as vice president.
According to the introduction in the company's catalog (which is offered as a separate lot in this auction), Cobb purchased a "substantial interest" in the W. B. Jarvis Company, at which time he assumed the position of vice president. Cobb's investment in the company was also reported by the New York Times in an article published on June 9, 1912. That Cobb was an executive with the company is not surprising at all. Cobb was baseball’s first millionaire player. He achieved that status in large part not from his salary as a ballplayer but due to his shrewd business investments during the early 1900s. Cobb, though he was not college educated, came from a well-to-do family in Georgia. His father was a local schoolteacher and Cobb’s lifestyle was one of privilege, not hardship. His natural intelligence, combined with his father’s insistence on educational excellence, prepared him well for his future career. Unlike most of his teammates, Cobb didn't squander his money, but instead invested it wisely. He was an early shareholder in both Coca-Cola and General Motors, two of the most successful companies in American history, and the profits he reaped from those investments alone made him extremely wealthy. Unfortunately, Cobb's association with the W. B. Jarvis company was much shorter than he anticipated. In 1914 Cobb decided to winter in Georgia instead of Michigan, which made it difficult for him to give the company his full attention. Even more important, that was the same year in which W. B. Jarvis reorganized and began making automobile accessories instead of sporting goods. For those reasons, all "Ty Cobb Brand" W. B. Jarvis items are rare.
The trophy (11 inches high; 4.5 inches in diameter at the top) is heavily tarnished and the base is bent, causing the trophy to stand at a pronounced angle. A number of moderate dents are also evident along the base. In Good condition overall. The advertising flyer (6.25 x 18 inches), which is printed on thin paper stock, displays three horizontal mailing folds, as issued. Aside from a few tiny edge tears the piece remains in Excellent to Mint condition. The letter (8.5 x 11) displays a single vertical and horizontal mailing fold and, aside from the faded text, is also in Excellent to Mint condition. (It appears that both the flyer and form letter were mailed to institutions together with the company's catalog.) The flyer and letter have been matted together to total dimensions of 17.75 x 20.5 inches. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,800
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