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1887 Bela Pratt Baseball Player Statue (Amos Alonzo Stagg)
Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $4,350.00
One of the most elegant and majestic baseball figural pieces of the nineteenth century, this glazed plaster figure by very well known Boston sculptor Bela Pratt (1867-1917) has the feel, dignity, and presence of a marble statue dating from ancient Roman times. The figure's pose is reminiscent of Christy Mathewson, but this piece actually dates from 1887, long before Mathewson took the mound. Pratt is a very significant American artist. Bela Lyon Pratt was a pupil of famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who created the "Saint-Gaudens double eagle" United States $20 gold piece and the "Saint-Gaudens eagle" $10 gold piece, but it was Bela Pratt who designed the Indian Head half and quarter eagles -- the $5 and $2.50 gold pieces that circulated side-by-side with the two Saint-Gaudens coins. Pratt is most well known for his sculptures, especially those featuring historical subjects. His works are in the collections of many museums, and are also displayed at Harvard, Yale, and the Boston Public Library. Of additional special note regarding the offered statue is the fact that the figure is not a generic baseball player, but in fact is modeled after the assistant baseball coach at Yale in 1887, who at this time was none other than Amos Alonzo Stagg. Stagg was a baseball and football star at Yale, and went on to great fame for his many contributions to the world of sport and as the greatest coach in college football history. Bela Pratt was 20 years old and attending Yale University when he created this masterpiece. The statue stands nineteen inches tall. The base on which the figure stands (7.5 x 3.5 x 1.5 inches) is engraved on the side "Pat. Nov. 14, 1887". The "Pr" of "Pratt" can be seen on one corner of the top of the base; this is faint and the balance of the name does not appear to have ever been legible. Robert Edward Auctions gives thanks to Bill Gladstone for his great assistance in the proper cataloguing of this piece. If it were not for his previous research, speaking directly with Bela Pratt's grandson, the identity of the figure may have never been documented. The only other example of this Pratt figure known to exist is in the legendary Gladstone Collection of Baseball Art, which has been featured in so many books and museum exhibitions. The statue has minor faults, including a few small surface abrasions, the slightest chipping to the front of the cap, and a few hairline surface cracks; considering its age it has survived in extraordinarily fine condition. This is a museum-caliber piece, worthy of the most sophisticated collection, and with an overall Excellent appearance. Height: 19 inches. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000/$4000.
Note: We have recieved the following letter from the Pratt family with additional information regarding this lot which we thought might be valuable to potential bidders:
Dear robertedwardauctions, Greetings; I am B.L. Pratt's grandaughter (Elisabeth Morgan Pratt, his youngest child, was my mother.) I am currently writing a biography of Pratt and am pleased to see that you have given such accurate information about the piece. The Baseball Player was his first major piece and it won him the Ethel Child Walker Prize at the Yale School of Fine Arts. After sculpting it, he continued his studies under A. St. Gaudens at the Art Student's League in N.Y. Pratt was passionate about baseball,he obviously knew Stagg while at Yale, and he played the game with colleagues in Paris while studying at the Ecole Des Beaux Arts. He was equally passionate about Yale football and, while in Boston, was often the sole Yale rooter amongst a multitude of Harvard supporters. Question:You note "the only other example of this Pratt figure known to exist is in the Gladstone collection..." Does this mean there was a second cast made and that it is with Wm. Gladstone. Thank you Cynthia Pratt Kennedy Sam SOLD FOR $4,350.00
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