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1888 G21 Allen & Ginter World's Champions Tobacco Banner
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $4,444
Exceedingly rare advertising banner produced in promotion of Allen & Ginter's N29 World's Champions tobacco-card set. The beautifully illustrated full-color lithograph features a large trophy cup surrounded by images of all fifty cards in the set, including the six baseball players: Buck Ewing, John Morrell, James Ryan, George Miller, Charles Getzein, and James Fogarty. As noted on the poster, this was the second series of fifty "World's Champions" cards issued by the company. The first set, designated N28, debuted earlier in the year and was so popular that the company immediately followed up with the production of a second series. As with the first, the second issue was heralded in tobacco stores by means of a beautiful lithographic poster, which is offered here. Tobacco banners such as these were not available to the public, and were distributed only to tobacco-store owners for store display. Because of this, despite their extraordinary display value and high-quality production, most were discarded immediately following the promotion. The few survivors are among nineteenth-century card collecting's rarest and most substantial treasures. This is one of only a few known examples of this highly prized poster advertising the N29 Allen & Ginter "World's Champions" set. It is even rarer than the earlier-issued poster promoting the first series of World Champions tobacco cards (N28). Jefferson Burdick first cataloged this poster in the The American Card Catalog with the designation "G21." It is interesting to note the value placed upon it by Burdick in the 1930s: $15. That may not sound like a lot but that lofty amount made it the second most valuable baseball item listed in the ACC, trailing only the T206 Wagner (which was valued at $50). This poster has significant condition problems. As one can plainly see, the poster (15.5 x 27.5 inches) has sustained water damage along the base, the result of poor storage long ago by a former owner. According to our consignor, he discovered this poster for sale in an old country/antique store in Cape Code about twenty-five years ago. Unfortunately, the store owner, who obviously had no idea of its rarity or true value, had it hanging on the wall (not framed) in such a manner that the base of it was lying curled on top of an old stove. During one rainy day, the roof sprung a leak and water dripped onto the poster, but because the bottom portion of the poster was curled upwards on top of the stove, it acted like a basin, with water collecting within its upturned portion, ultimately seriously damaging that section. The result is the dichotomy seen here: While the top portion displays a few small, light water stains, it retains an Excellent overall appearance, which stands in stark contrast to the large area of surface paper loss, including tears, at the base. Luckily, as rare as it is, a few other examples of this poster are known, so it would be possible for a talented restorer to recreate the damaged bottom portion, thereby returning it to all its former glory. The poster retains both its original top and bottom metal border supports. A high-grade example of the Second Series Allen & Ginter poster would sell for tens of thousands of dollars. While it is a given that the condition of this example could be better, it still has great merit as is, and this poster presents a unique opportunity to acquire this important rarity for a small fraction of what a higher-grade example would sell for, if available. Framed to total dimensions of 17.25 x 29.25 inches. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $4,444
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