Rare Early Baseball Poster Features Boston Unions and Philadelphia Keystones

Bonhams upcoming sale, “Treasures from The Caren Archive” on April 7, will include an exceedingly rare color poster advertisement for an early professional baseball game between the Boston Unions and the Philadelphia Keystones (estimate $15,000-$25,000). The April 30, 1884, game was played near present-day Copley Square in Boston’s Back Bay.

Boston Union Athletic Exhibition Company Grounds . Championship Games, Keystones vs. Boston Unions Buffalo, NY: John B. Sage, [1883].  Chromolithographed poster, 692 x 262 mm (image size).  Est $15,000-25,000 . Image courtesy Bonhams.

Boston Union Athletic Exhibition Company Grounds . Championship Games, Keystones vs. Boston Unions
Buffalo, NY: John B. Sage, [1883].
Chromolithographed poster, 692 x 262 mm (image size).
Est $15,000-25,000 . Image courtesy Bonhams.

Both teams were members of the Union Association, one of the earliest – and most short-lived – professional baseball leagues to emerge. It would be 17 years before the appearance of the American League, and even the National League had been in existence for just eight years. Very few posters survive from this early period in baseball history, and the present item will be especially prized owing to the stunning color lithography of the team uniforms.

Other baseball lots will include a rare issue of the earliest known baseball broadside, an Adams Transcript Extra covering the first intercollegiate baseball game as played by Amherst and Williams Colleges on July 1, 1859 (est. $3,000-$5000). Also featured is a September 30, 1920, issue of the Chicago Daily Tribune with headline coverage of the infamous “Black Sox” scandal/1919 World Series (est. $400-$600).

The sale includes more than 300 diverse historical rarities encompassing rare newspapers, broadsides, photographs, books and manuscripts dating from the 16th century through the 1960s.

“Treasures from The Caren Archive” takes place on April 7 at Bonhams New York. The auction will preview at Bonhams April 3-7. For more information, visit www.bonhams.com.

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