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1860 Base Ball Player's Pocket Companion
Starting Bid - $2,000, Sold For - $4,406
1860 Base Ball Player's Pocket Companion , third revised edition, published by Mayhew & Baker, Boston, 34 pages. Many historians consider the Base Ball Player's Pocket Companion to be the single most important of all early baseball books and it has long been revered by collectors both for its great rarity and significance. The offered volume includes rules, regulations, and field diagrams for both the "Massachusetts" and "New York" game. This book was published at a time when the controversy over which rules would gain acceptance was at its peak. The newer "New York" rules, which placed the batter at home plate and replaced posts with bases, were growing in popularity in the late 1850s. However, it was not until 1858 that the first game between prominent teams using the New York rules was played. Three editions of this book are known: the 1859 edition (of which there are fewer than ten known examples), this 1860 edition (which is even rarer and of which this is only the second example we have ever seen), and the 1861 edition (of which there is only one example known). This edition, like the 1859 edition, has a gilt-stamped soft leather cover (the 1861 edition has the cover design printed in gold on striking blue paper wraps). The gold type and woodcut cover design (of a ballplayer in the act of catching a ball) displayed on this book is the same for all three editions. There is a wealth of important historical information relating to the development of baseball in this volume. This book presents in detail the early rules of the game as decided by the National Association of Base Ball Players, baseball's first organized association, and includes information relating to the NABBP as well. This volume literally documents the work-in-progress nature of the game at that time, detailing the most significant changes to the rules which largely define the game of baseball as we know it today. The monumental significance and dramatic presentation of its contents makes it very easy to appreciate why the Base Ball Player's Pocket Companion is universally regarded as the most significant of all early books which are exclusively devoted to baseball and which were available to the general public.
The book (3.75 x 5.5 inches) displays light wear on both covers, including an abrasion affecting the gilt-stamped "Y" in "Player's" on the front. The name "Ed Hawes" is written in ink on the interior front cover. There is partial separation along the spine, but both covers remain joined to the main body of the book. A small circular stain (approximately .5 x .5 inches and not affecting any text) appears in the lower right of each page; this is fairly unobtrusive; the interior pages are otherwise very fresh and clean. Because this is a revised edition, it was originally issued with an amended page tipped-in at page thirteen. That insert has been removed from the offered volume and a small area of paper residue, resulting from its removal, is evident on that page. In Very Good condition overall. Of special note with reference to provenance, this volume originates long ago from the company files of the Harwood Baseball Company (of great historical significance as the earliest manufacturer of baseballs, founded in 1858) and was consigned to this auction directly by the former owner of the company. This is a museum-caliber piece that would be a highlight in even the world's most advanced library or nineteenth-century baseball collection. Reserve $2,000. Estimate $4,000+. SOLD FOR $4,406
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