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1919 Woodland Bards World Series Collection with Felt "White Sock"
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $1,410
This remarkable, heretofore never-before-seen collection of 1919 Chicago White Sox "Woodland Bards" World Series souvenirs is notable not only for its rarity, but also for its extraordinary provenance. Each of the three items offered here, two menus and an incredible felt "White Sock" display piece, originates directly from a former member of the famed Woodland Bards and has not seen the light of day since 1919. (Also originating from this find are two 1919 World Series tickets, for Game 1 and Game 2, respectively, that are being offered as separate lots in this auction.) The Woodland Bards was an informal gentlemen’s club organized by White Sox team owner Charles Comiskey in the early 1900s whose membership included most of Chicago's political power brokers, top businessmen, sportswriters, and celebrities, as well as prominent ballplayers in each league. In 1917 Comiskey created a private sanctuary for the club, called the Woodland Bards' Trophy Room, located in Comiskey Park. To his players, Comiskey was a miserly tyrant, but to the Bards he was a most gracious of host, providing free food and beverage to any member exercising his right of invitation to the Bards' room. Our consignor's father, who owned one of the largest electrical distributorships in Chicago, was granted membership in the Woodland Bards partly because of his standing in the business community, partly because he was a former semipro ballplayer, and mainly for the fact that he and Comiskey were neighbors; they both resided in the same apartment building on the South Side of Chicago. So it was, in October 1919, that our consignor's father boarded a train to Cincinnati with the other Woodland Bards to attend the opening of the World Series between Comiskey's White Sox and the National League champion Reds. Unbeknownst to him, or any of the other Bards at the time, was the fact that while they were enjoying Comiskey's lavish hospitality in his private cars, in another section of the train, eight members of the White Sox were plotting with emissaries from the gambling community to "throw" the series. Although an unholy contract had been drafted between the parties before the train reached the Cincinnati station, the deal was not formally accepted by the players until after White Sox hurler Eddie Cicotte hit the first Reds batter he faced, which was the agreed-upon signal to the gamblers that the "fix" was on.
If we could go back in time and join the Bards on that train trip to Cincinnati, we might have noticed that the club members were all in possession of certain materials that constituted a souvenir packet of their trip south. Offered here are three items distributed to, and saved by, one member of the Bards who embarked upon that fateful trip. The highlight of the trio is a phenomenal white felt "sock" (approximately 6.5 x 4 inches) that features embroidered red-white-and-blue stitching reading "Sox vs Reds/Woodland Bards/Chicago/1919." While we cannot say for certain, the presence of two tiny pinholes along the top portion of the material lends credence to the theory that this piece was probably meant to be affixed to a lapel, by means of a stick pin, for easy identification of each member. Like the other two pieces in this collection, this is the first example of this decorative piece we have ever seen and the only thing more amazing than its survival is its condition. Aside from the aforementioned two pinholes at the top, this piece is in remarkable Near Mint condition, displaying just as it did ninety-two years ago. The other two pieces comprise, respectively, a dinner menu for October 1, 1919, the date of the first World Series game, and a breakfast menu for October 2, 1919, the date of the second World Series game. Each menu (6 x 9 inches), printed on thick paper stock, is lettered "Third White Sox World's Series Pilgrimage" at the top, and "Woodland Bards of Chicago" and "Hotel Havlin, Cincinnati, O." at the base, along with the respective date. In addition to the standard culinary fare, the dinner menu displays a team photo of the White Sox at the top, while the breakfast menu features a portrait photo of "Chas. A. Comiskey 'The Old Roman'." The dinner menu displays three horizontal folds, along the end of one of which is a small tear. In Very Good condition. The breakfast menu displays one heavy horizontal fold that is torn along much of its length. There is a small chip in the lower right and upper left corners, respectively, as well a few creases and edge tears. In Good to Very Good condition. As mentioned previously, all three of these items have been in the possession of our consignor's family ever since his father returned home from Cincinnati in 1919 and thereby represent one of the most incredible finds of 1919 "Black Sox" material ever made, all the more so given the fact that, to the best our knowledge, no other examples have ever surfaced. Total: 3 items (felt sock and two menus). Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,410
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