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1913 W. B. Jarvis Ty Cobb Catalog and Various Endorsed Equipment
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $960
Rare 1913 W. B. Jarvis catalog featuring the company's complete line of "Ty Cobb Brand" athletic goods, together with various pieces of "Ty Cobb Brand" equipment. This is the first example of this catalog we have ever seen, let alone offered, which is notable for the many different photos of Cobb featured within. In addition to a large portrait image of Cobb on the front cover, each of the ninety-six interior pages displays a different "action" photo of Cobb on the ball field.
As noted in the catalog introduction, Cobb had recently purchased a "substantial interest" in the W. B. Jarvis Company, at which time he assumed the position of vice president. The introduction also points out that Cobb "not only designed many of the articles illustrated herein, but has placed his stamp of approval on every article in the line which bears his name." Cobb's investment in the company was reported in the June 9, 1912, edition of the New York Times. In full:
Ty Cobb, the Tigers' noted outfielder, today entered business on a large scale, purchasing a block of stock in the W.B. Jarvis Company, a $300,000 corporation with stores in Detroit and Grand Rapids doing a wholesale and retail sporting goods business. Cobb will be elected a director immediately and will assume an active part in the business. He will have charge of the baseball goods department. "I desire to have a good business position awaiting me when I get through with baseball,: said Ty. "I have intended for some time to make Detroit my home and have been on the lookout for a business opening. I picked this because it is right in my line and I can make good in it easier than in some other field." Cobb's house is the largest of its kind in Michigan. In the Winters he will devote his entire time to the business.
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 catalog (5 x 6.75 inches) displays moderate wear. The front and back cover remain attached to each other, but they have separated from the spine; otherwise in Excellent condition overall. Offered with the catalog are two "Ty Cobb Brand" items, both of which feature the brand name and can be found in the catalog. The first is an "Indoor Bat," which is long and thin, similar to a fungo bat. The 33-inch bat is not cracked and displays moderate to heavy wear. The other is a "New Leader No. 14" tennis racket. The racket is heavily worn, including a number of broken strings. Also included in the collection is a J. F. Hillerich & Sons Company "40 T. C." bat dating from the 1911-1916 manufacturing period. The 33-inch bat features a blank barrel and displays heavy wear, including areas of minor wood loss to the handle and barrel. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $960
(Click the smaller thumbnails to the left and right (if any) to cycle through each photo in the gallery of images for this lot.)