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Lot # 788 (of 1673)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Abner Doubleday and H. & E. Phinney Signed Checks (Origins of Baseball)

Starting Bid - $300.00 , Sold For - $1,057.50

Offered here are a pair of nineteenth-century bank checks bearing, respectively, two names that will forever be associated with the long-standing myth that baseball was invented in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839: Abner Doubleday and H. & E. Phinney. While Doubleday’s name today is well known by even the most casual of baseball fans, only true scholars will recognize that of Phinney. According to testimony given to the Mills Commission by Abner Graves in 1907, it was on Elihu Phinney’s farm, located in Cooperstown, New York, that Abner Doubleday “invented” baseball in 1839. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, that myth still persists in some circles to this day. While most scholars agree that Doubleday did not invent the game of baseball, his name is still very much a part of baseball lore, especially in its connection to the Hall of Fame. Doubleday is also well known in military circles, as he is credited with firing the first shot at Fort Sumter during the Civil War and later saw action in Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. Ironically, when Doubleday passed away in 1893, his obituary described him as a man "who did not care for outdoor sports." Elihu Phinney, who opened the first printing company in Cooperstown, passed away in 1813. After his death, both his business and farm went to his two sons, Henry and Elihu Jr., who then renamed the printing company H. & E. Phinney. 1) Doubleday Check: The bank check, dated June 16 (year appears to be 1881), and drawn on the Otsega County Bank of Cooperstown, is made out to Abner D. Doubleday in the amount of $14.00 and has been signed by the issuer, “H. Scott.” Doubleday has endorsed the check on the reverse in black fountain pen (grading “9/10”), “Abner D. Doubleday.” The check (7.5 x 3.75 inches) displays a vertical fold, a few light border wrinkles, a tiny spindle hole in the center and a bank cancellation stamp. In Excellent condition overall. 2) Phinney Check: The company bank check, dated March 16, 1839 and drawn on the Otsega County Bank of Cooperstown, is made out to “Lawsons School” in the amount of $282.77 and is signed in black fountain pen (grading “9”) “H. & E. Phinney.” A remarkable additional significance of this check is that it is dated in the very same year and at almost the exact time that Doubleday is purported to have “invented” baseball on the family’s farm. Although it is not endorsed on the reverse, the check bears a bank cancellation stamp on the front. The check (6 x 2.5 inches) displays a vertical fold as well as a few minor border creases and tears. In Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $300. Estimate $500/$1,000. SOLD FOR $1,057.50


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