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1876 Muller Baseball Clock (with Alexander Cartwright and Henry Chadwick)
Starting Bid - $1,500.00 , Sold For - $11,162.50
The Muller clock is one of the most beautifully designed and rarest of all baseball antiques. Named for its creators, brothers Nicholas and Karl Muller, this extremely rare nineteenth-century clock with cast-iron face has a very elaborate design sculpted in high-relief. The design features six figures. While these figures are not identified on the clock, it is universally accepted that the two players flanking the clock face are Bob Ferguson, outfielder and manager of the Brooklyn Atlantics in the 1870s, and Bobby Mathews, renowned pitcher for the New York Mutuals in the 1870s, and that the two gentlemen below the clock face are Henry Chadwick and Alexander Cartwright. Chadwick, of course, was the most famous sportswriter of the nineteenth century. He is featured holding a writing tablet, pen in hand, with his easily recognizable heavy beard clearly defining his profile. Alexander Cartwright, "The Father of Modern Baseball" and one of the founding members of the Knickerbockers, is captured with his distinctive close-cropped beard and trademark top hat. The two children at the top of the clock appear to be watching a game and are commonly referred to as representing the future of the game. This clock differs significantly from the very few others we have seen or handled in that the front of the clock has been partially painted in order to accentuate the images of the two ballplayers and young children at the top. Also painted is the fencing along the base, as well as the bat Ferguson is holding and a bucket and mug found at his feet. We assume that this color enhancement, which appears to be professionally applied, was done by the clock manufacturer and was offered as an option to prospective buyers at a significant extra cost. Such options for decorative pieces for home display were often offered in this era, just as they are today. Whatever the extra cost might have been, it was certainly worth it. The added colors have greatly enhanced the display value of the piece and this is by far the most attractive example we have ever seen. This clock is listed in the 1876 catalog of the American Clock Company. Karl Muller is renowned as one of the most important American baseball figural artists. He is very well known both for the design of this clock and for his highly regarded series of 1868 baseball figures. His brother Nicholas was responsible for the casting. The Muller clock is one of the most fascinating of all nineteenth-century baseball pieces in that it is the earliest baseball art piece which pays tribute to the history of the game and its most important pioneers, honoring both Chadwick and Cartwright for their immense contributions to the game. This clock is one of the earliest and most important pieces of American baseball sculpture. It is also very rare, with fewer than ten examples known. Even the Baseball Hall of Fame did not have an example until 1998, when Barry Halper's Muller clock was purchased by Major League Baseball and donated to the Hall of Fame. The clock is sixteen inches tall, thirteen inches wide, and the case is made of wood. The wood backing of the clock is presently nailed shut, but can be opened for repairs and maintenance. The windup key is not present (but probably can be replaced) and the pendulum movement accompanies the clock, but is not presently attached to the interior movement. Otherwise, we assume the mechanics are complete and in working order, but we have not opened the back panel to inspect it. As with any antique piece featuring delicate mechanisms, we cannot guarantee that all (or any) of the mechanisms are in perfect working order, and the clock may need maintenance or internal repairs to be restored to perfect working order, if desired. It displays magnificently exactly as is. The iron face has only very minor wear from normal handling and the clock, as a whole, is in spectacular Excellent condition. The Muller clock is a magnificent work of art of great historical significance, and one of the finest nineteenth-century decorative pieces related to baseball in existence. Reserve $1,500. Estimate $3,000/$5,000. SOLD FOR $11,162.50
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