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1888 Mike Kelly Play Ball Book
Starting Bid - $300.00, Sold For - $812.00
Medium-grade example of one of the most desirable, and elusive, of all nineteenth-century baseball books. The full title of this rarely seen volume is Play Ball - Stories of the Ball Field. 96 pages. This is an especially noteworthy book to collectors, not just because of its contents and extreme rarity (fewer than ten examples are known), but also because the front cover features a woodcut portrait of Kelly. One of the most highly prized of all early baseball volumes, this book holds the distinction of being the earliest published book of stories of the ball field by a professional baseball player. It is also a very substantial nineteenth-century display piece, and one of the most interesting and substantial items relating to the great Mike "King" Kelly in the collecting world. Few players had the charisma of Mike Kelly. Since he was one of the greatest, most popular and flamboyant stars of the nineteenth century, it is not surprising that a book based on his exploits should be published. It is surprising, however, that so few should survive. Perhaps this is related to its issue price of twenty-five cents, which was quite a steep price in 1888. The somewhat low paper quality of the soft cover book makes serious condition problems a virtual certainty. This volume is missing the back cover and has had some very minor, extremely professional restoration just to reattach the front cover, otherwise in overall Good condition with some isolated small chips to the cover and a few interior pages, which comes with the territory with this fragile rarity. Dimensions: 5.5 x 7.5 inches. Reserve $300. Estimate $500/$1,000. SOLD FOR $812.00
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