Earliest Known Baseball Rules Document Surfaces at Auction

The power of publicity can never be underestimated. After a lot of mainstream media attention with the sale of the T206 Honus Wagner in its previous sale, Ken Goldin said they were contacted by an individual who had a baseball document that had never seen the light of day in the hobby or otherwise.

1855 rulesIn the 2013 Goldin Auctions Summer Spectacular, one fortunate collector will have the chance to own an extremely important and exceedingly rare document – the constitution and by-laws from the Excelsior Base Ball Club of Brooklyn–- one the most prominent teams of the mid-19th century. This book is available for purchase, along with more than 1,150 lots of collectibles, in a sale that ends July 19 at www.GoldinAuctions.com.

“This historic document, which was created six years before the Civil War, documents the founding of one of baseball’s first professional baseball teams,” said Ken Goldin founder of Goldin Auctions. “The National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown has a similar publication dated 1856, a year after this one.  Books such as these are significant to memorabilia collectors and baseball historians alike and we are honored to make this historical document available for purchase. This is, without doubt, a museum quality piece that will soon become an important centerpiece in an advanced collection.”

The Excelsior Base Ball Club of Brooklyn was one of the most prominent teams of the mid-19th century and would later include Jim Creighton on its roster – considered by many to be one of the most important players not in the Hall of Fame. The names of those associated with the club have been hand-written in script on the inside back cover (presumably by a team member who owned the book) and are period correct; the first name on the list being that of N. J. Tappan who was the club’s first president. The names are of the six officers and directors of the club along with, from what we can ascertain, the original 14 members of the club. The book also includes rules of baseball as well as important information about the team.

The book is a newly discovered find from a recent estate sale in New York within a box of documents including 18th and 19th century land grants. It was owned by a descendent from one of the team members and has been stored away for more than 150 years. The book has survived time in tremendous condition with only a relatively small stain near the top edge of the front cover. The gilt edges seem to be in the same condition that they were when this book was produced. The spine of the book, along with the 100 percent intact pages contained within the16-page book, maintain the highest level of integrity.

Check out the item here.

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