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1888 Chicago Nationals Baseball Currency Issued in Deadwood, South Dakota
Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $1,645.00
Perhaps no baseball item from the nineteenth century, or any era, is infused with the spirit of "The Old West" more so than this item: an 1888 baseball currency note, featuring the 1888 Chicago Nationals, issued in the legendary town of Deadwood, Dakota Territory. All advertising currencies featuring ballplayers are extremely desirable, but this example has an extraordinary extra dimension of interest: It is a "territorial” baseball note, issued when Deadwood was still part of the Dakota Territory, a year before North and South Dakota were admitted to the Union in 1889. Baseball currency notes were issued with advertising overprints by various merchants during the 1880s. Notes featuring one of several different teams were issued, depending on the location of the merchant. St. Louis area merchants naturally tended to distribute currencies featuring the St. Louis team. Detroit area merchants naturally distributed advertising currencies featuring the Detroit team. Deadwood, South Dakota, of course, did not have its own baseball team, but had many business connections with Chicago, just two states away, so the local merchant who issued this advertising currency chose the Chicago team to distribute. Deadwood was a hotbed of activity in the 1880s, some of it legitimate, much of it very dangerous. Gambling and prostitution were rampant, saloons were the center of commerce, outlaws at times outnumbered law-abiding citizens, panning for gold was the primary industry, and a general sense of lawlessness was in the background of it all. The construction of the railroad allowed Deadwood eventually to evolve from a wild frontier town to a prosperous commercial center, but the lawless spirit of The Wild West has always remained. The front of this note features a portrait of Chicago Nationals President A. G. Spalding, a full-length batting pose of Cap Anson, and advertising for “I. H. Chase – Chase’s, Where They Sell Cheap for Clothing, Boots, Shoes and Gents’ Furnishings.” The address listed is “Main Street – Deadwood.” Main Street, to this day, is the center of town. Visitors, lawmen, miners who "struck it rich," townsfolk, and outlaws alike no doubt made purchases in this prominently located retail establishment. The reverse depicts portraits of twelve members of the powerhouse Chicago Nationals including John Clarkson, Cap Anson, and Billy Sunday. The storied town of Deadwood, South Dakota, was a dangerous place. The legendary mining town, located in the historic Black Hills, was the final resting spot for many legendary “Wild West” figures, among them Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Fortunately, this baseball currency survives! This is a recent discovery, and of potential special interest to many different kinds of collectors, including those specializing in baseball, advertising currencies, and the Wild West. This is one of only three examples known to exist to the best of our knowledge. The other two examples (which were each graded "AU") appeared in currency-note auctions and sold for $4,500 and $7,000 respectively. The offered example is the very note which was profiled in articles in The Sports Collectors Digest (Nov. 4, 2005) and The Bank Note Reporter (Nov. 2005). The note (7.75 x 3.5 inches) has benefited from professional restoration, with a repair to a vertical tear that once separated the piece, and now presents an Excellent to Mint appearance. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,645.00
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