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Circa 1897 Page Fence Giants Advertising Trade Card

  • Sold For: $6,960
  • Year: 1897
  • Auction: 2005 Spring
  • Lot #: 848
  • Auction Category: Featured

Presented is the only advertising card featuring a Negro League team known dating from the nineteenth-century. The fact that it features the top Negro League club of the day, and includes Charlie Grant, the greatest Negro League star of the era, makes this an extraordinarily significant card. To date, only three examples are known to exist. The Page Fence Giants of Adrian, Michigan, were one of the most prominent of all black teams before the turn of the century. In the late 1890s, they were the premier Negro League team. Led by the legendary Charlie Grant, one of the greatest stars in the history of the game, in 1897 the Page Fence Giants won an incredible eighty-two games in a row. No history of early Negro League baseball is complete without including this historic club. Very little has survived from this landmark team, making this advertising trade card all the more significant. The Page Fence Giants were so named because the Page Woven Wire Fence Company of Adrian, Michigan, sponsored the team. Incredibly, the offered card (4.5 x 5.5 inches) is an advertising "trade card" issued by the Page Woven Wire Fence Company. It is printed on sturdy stock, and has advertising on the reverse for the company that sponsored the legendary Page Fence Giants. The back also features an illustration of a Page-brand Woven Wire Fence. Based on a comparison of the players featured and the lineups recorded in reference books, we believe this card dates to exactly 1897, though it is possible it is a year earlier or later. At the bottom center of the front of the card, below the player identifications, is the text "(OVER)," which is an invitation to anyone holding the card to view the advertising for the Page Woven Fence Company on the reverse of the card. As an additional historical note, Charlie Grant came very close to being the first black player of the twentieth century to play in the Major Leagues. John McGraw attempted to break the color barrier by signing the straight-haired, high-cheekboned, and light complexioned Charlie Grant to a Baltimore Orioles contract (Grant's physical characteristics are easily seen on this card, in which he is pictured in the front row, second from right). Grant was renamed "Charlie Tokohama" and was presented to the world as being a Cherokee Indian. White Sox president Charles Comiskey discovered the deception. Grant was exposed and banned from the white leagues. Grant's banishment is credited with playing a major role in the birth of a new generation of independent black teams, which soon flourished in the early twentieth century. The Page Fence Giants advertising trade card is so rare it has not yet been catalogued. The only other example to ever come to auction was in slightly lesser but very similar condition, and appeared as Lot #40 in Robert Edward Auctions' May 2004 sale, selling for $5,750. The condition flaws of the offered example include one area of spot paper loss in the upper left, a few very light creases, three small pieces of clear tape, which could easily be professionally removed without causing any damage, if desired, and a small trace of what appears to be glue in the lower right portion of the photograph, which could also almost certainly be removed if desired. In overall Good condition. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $3,000/$5,000. SOLD FOR $6,960.00

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