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Lot # 16 (16 of 1911)   « Previous Lot | Next Lot »

1915 Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner Yer Out Original Painting by Fletcher Ransom (70" x 50") - "The Greatest Baseball Picture Ever Painted"

Starting Bid - $15,000, Sold For - $48,000

Original oil on canvas, titled Yer Out, painted by noted commercial artist Fletcher Ransom in 1915. This extraordinary artwork is one the finest baseball paintings we have ever seen, notable for its enormous size (70 x 50 inches!), artistic merits, and, most important, its subject matter: a game-action scene featuring Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner! It also has an extraordinary, fascinating, and well-documented history. This painting was one of five specially commissioned by the Gerlach-Barklow Company (one of the leading producers of art and advertising calendars in the United States from 1907 to 1971) for use on an "Indoor Bill-Board" calendar in 1915. (The "Indoor Bill-Board" calendars were the company's top-of-the-line advertising calendars, measuring an incredible 48 x 30 inches.) Not surprisingly, Yer Out, was the featured image in the company's brochure that year. (Yer Out was available on the company's smaller calendars as well, if clients so desired.) The brochure's text provides so much information regarding the painting that we quote it here in its entirety: The greatest baseball picture ever painted is illustrated in the above calendar, and baseball is the great American sport, a sport in which nine-tenths of the men and boys and half of the women and girls are interested. Fletcher C. Ransom, the famous painter of human interest pictures, has here given us a most remarkable portrayal of the National game. The scene is laid in the famous Polo Grounds in New York City. The contending teams are the New York "Giants" and the Pittsburgh "Pirates" of the National League. A "Pirate" batter has "bunted" the ball and is on his way to "first." "Honus" Wagner, one of the most famous baseball players of the present generation, tries to "steal" home from "third." But the ever alert Christy Mathewson, the great "Giant" pitcher, retrieves the ball and hurls it to catcher Meyers, the noted Indian player. The expression of umpire Klem's face scarcely requires the motion of his hand to indicate to the thrillingly interested spectators that he is saying "Yer Out." So vividly is the scene portrayed that one can almost hear the tremendous swell of sound as the immense throng of "fans" rise to their feet to cheer and wildly wave hats and canes. The other figure of prominence in the picture is that of Manager McGraw of the "Giants," who is quietly observing the game from the side lines at the right of the batter's box. This great picture will receive a warm welcome in every city, town, and hamlet in the United States and Canada. The original oil painting, size 70 x 50 inches, is valued at $5,000.00. The reproduction in full color shown in the above calendar is 24 x 18 inches. Anticipating a demand for this picture for framing, copies have been prepared, without printing, and will be sent prepaid at $1.00 each. Of particular note is Gerlach-Barklow's $5,000 appraisal value for the painting ($5,000 in 1915 is equivalent to $117,000 in today's economy) and that the company felt the image would be so well received that additional copies, without advertising text, were being produced in anticipation of the demand for the print as a wall display. We cannot disagree with the company's assessment of this painting, as it truly can be described as "the greatest baseball picture ever painted." This image was later used by Gerlach-Barklow on a variety of other advertising pieces, the most novel of which was a jigsaw puzzle. REA actually sold a vintage Yer Out advertising print in its May 2005 auction (Lot 855; realized $1,392). In our original description of the print, we noted that Christy Mathewson not only posed for the painting, but cooperated with the artist, Fletcher Ransom, to make this picture authentic in every detail. Fletcher Ransom (1870-1943), who studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Academy of Fine Arts in New York City, was one of the top commercial artists of his era. Although he provided illustrations for both books and magazines, including Colliers, he was best known for his calendar artwork. His longest associations in that field were with the Gerlach-Barklow Company (eighteen years) and the Osborn Company (seventeen years). Today, his most famous works are Yer Out and a series of Abraham Lincoln vignettes, which he produced for the Midland Railroad Company's calendars in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The painting also has a remarkable provenance: Ransom personally presented this painting in 1915 as a gift to Mr. Barklow, one of the owners of the Gerlach-Barklow Company, who displayed it in his office for decades. Mr. Barklow also happened to be a member of the Joliet Elks Lodge, located in Joliet, Illinois (which is where the Gerlach-Barklow Company was headquartered and where Fletcher Ransom lived for much of his working career). Many years later (none of the lodge members today can recall the exact date, but it was was most likely in the 1950s), Barklow gifted the painting to the Joliet Elks Lodge, where it has remained on prominent display for all its members to enjoy these past fifty plus years. It has been consigned to Robert Edward Auctions directly by the Joliet Elks Lodge. The painting remains in Near Mint condition (note: some minor restoration and cleaning was long ago commissioned by the Elks Lodge) and has been framed to total dimensions of 84 x 64 inches. The substantial size/weight of this item requires that there will be a shipping charge for this lot (which will vary depending upon where it is being shipped). The shipping charge will be billed separately from the auction invoice. The painting is currently still on display at the Joliet Elks Lodge in Illinois, and will be shipped directly from the lodge. Reserve $15,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $48,000

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