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Lot # 666 (of 1411)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

The Baseball Player Limited Edition Bronze Statue (Douglas Tilden)

Starting Bid - $2,000.00, Sold For - $18,560.00

This extraordinary bronze is, in our opinion, the single premier baseball figural art piece of the late twentieth century. The rare bronze statue, titled The Baseball Player and designed by Douglas Tilden, is one of a limited casting produced in 1989 by Fine Arts in Metal, Inc, an art foundry located in San Jose, California. Though the limited edition was intended to number eighty-nine, the extraordinary expense of production was so great that the original cost of $9,500 per bronze greatly limited the number of pieces made. It is believed that fewer than ten examples of this classic bronze were actually cast, though even this number may be high. The history of this unique work, a detailed summary of which accompanies the piece, is quite fascinating. The original work upon which this bronze is based was created in 1889 by renowned artist Douglas Tilden. Tilden displayed the piece as part of the American Exhibit at the Paris International Exposition, where it was extremely well received. The original life-size bronze statue was dedicated on July 8, 1891 at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, where it remains to this day. It is widely recognized as the single most famous and classic baseball figural art piece ever created. As a result of its popularity at the time, a very small number of replicas was ordered by Tiffany's. While the exact number of Tiffany replica's produced is uncertain (possibly as few as four), only three have ever surfaced (two are 34 inches in height, the other 21 inches), one of which is on permanent exhibit in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Tilden, despite his great fame as an artist, remained a recluse for most of his life and died in 1935. In 1987, many of Tilden's personal artworks were discovered in an abandoned storage facility. Among the various pieces found was a 21.5 inch high plaster model of The Baseball Player, from which this limited edition bronze was cast. This piece, which stands 20-3/8 inches in height and weighs 25.25 pounds, is an exquisite work of art, faithful to the original, created with the highest quality production standards, under the auspices of the Tilden Estate. Tilden's signature appears on one side (as taken from the cast) while the copyright ("1988 Donald Schmitz") date ("8/12/89"), limited edition number ("6/89") and foundry name ("FAIM") appear on the reverse. Included with the statue are the Official Foundry Certificate of Metal Casting (issued by the Art Founders Guild of America, Inc.) and a copy of the original Certificate of Copyright Registration filed with the Library of Congress. It should be emphasized, as noted earlier, that although the foundry intended to limit the production of these bronzes to eighty-nine, only a very small number were ever cast and completed. Each piece was created one at a time, only in response to an order received. We have never before even seen an example offered in the secondary market. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first FAIM bronze of The Baseball Player to ever appear on the secondary market or at public auction. Rarely is a baseball art piece so impressive and worthy of display in so many venues, or able to elicit such a response of awe and respect by viewers from so many different specialties and backgrounds. This is an icon of American art, a worthy centerpiece to many types of collections, and a most sophisticated artistic decorative baseball-related piece which, in our opinion, has no equal. Included with the bronze are two vintage picture postcards (one postmarked 1909), each picturing the original bronze statue that stands in Golden Gate Park. Reserve $2,000. Estimate $4,000/$6,000. SOLD FOR $18,560.00


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