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1861 National Association of Base Ball Players Constitution Signed by Henry Chadwick
Starting Bid - $4,000.00, Sold For - $9,400.00
One of the rarest and most significant of all books ever published relating to the history of the game is this 1861 National Association of Base Ball Players Constitution and By-Laws. The small (3.5 x 5 inches) 56-page hardbound volume was published in 1861 in New York by “Wilbur & Hastings, Stationers and Printers, No. 39 Fulton Street” for distribution to delegates attending the National Association’s convention of 1861. The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was the first ever formal baseball organization. This is the only NABBP constitution we have ever seen or handled, and we are aware of the existence of only one other National Association of Professional Base Ball Players constitution in private hands. This volume is all the more significant as this was Henry Chadwick’s personal copy. It is flawlessly signed by Chadwick on the interior of the front hardcover “Henry Chadwick, Sunday Mercury” (“10”). Even if unsigned, this book would be among the most extraordinary of all early baseball-related printed books. The significance of this being Chadwick’s copy, and being signed by “The Father of Baseball,” is monumental. Chadwick, along with William Caldwell, also of the Sunday Mercury , was responsible for the assembling, editing, and production of the Constitution for the National Association of Base Ball Players. The fact that this was Chadwick’s personal copy, and that it is signed by Chadwick (identifying him as with the Sunday Mercury , one of the papers he was with at this time) makes this one of the most incredible signed Chadwick items that could possibly exist. The 56-page Constitution has a very important, dignified appearance, as is fitting, with “National Association” appearing above a large and fancy scrolling “BBP” in gilt on the cover. The 56 interior pages of the book open with one of the earliest published accounts of the history of baseball, beginning with the Knickerbockers of 1845. The Association’s elaborate proceedings comprise the next two chapters (covering all the business and significant matters of the Association, including rule changes), followed by chapters devoted to the League’s constitution, the League’s By-Laws, a listing of all officers and delegates to the convention, the rules and regulations of the game of baseball “as adopted by the Association on December 12, 1860,” a list of all member clubs with accompanying information about them, a list of all officers of the Association, a listing of all club representative delegates to the Association, and a list of club secretaries. Many of the listed team delegates, who attended the NABBP’s convention in anticipation of an exciting 1861 season of organized baseball, were called to war instead, as the Civil War began in April 1861. Their enthusiasm for the game no doubt played a role in popularizing baseball during the War, as soldiers learned and played the game, and when the war ended, brought it home with them to all parts of the country, setting the stage for an unprecedented explosion of interest in the game. One of the most historically significant of all early baseball publications, the personal copy of Henry Chadwick, “The Father of Baseball,” signed by Chadwick on the inside front cover. The interior pages are in virtually flawless condition, the covers are in Excellent condition, the Chadwick signature and salutation are virtually flawless, grading “10.” Overall in Excellent to Mint condition. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $4,000. Estimate $8,000/$12,000. SOLD FOR $9,400.00
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