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SPORTS ANTIQUE 

OF THE WEEK

April 26th- May 2nd 2009

Standout items 

by SportsAntiques.com

 

THIS WEEKS FEATURE

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 front cover

 

c1889-90

A.G. Spalding & Bros.

SPORTING GOODS 

CATALOG

softbound paperbacked

11 1/4" wide x 8" tall

Photographed on location at

2006 National Sports Collectors

Convention, booth of Kirk Kovacs

Priced $1,500.00

 

 

back cover

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assorted catalog pages

 

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fingerless gloves

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baseball caps

 

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baseball belts

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baseball bats

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baseball uniforms

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baseballs

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baseballs

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baseball bats

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football goods

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tennis goods

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baseball bats

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tennis outfits

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tennis nets

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baseball gloves

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bicycles

 

I shot this 1889-90 Spalding sporting goods catalog at the 2006 National in Anaheim. The prolific Kirk Kovacs was selling it for $1,500.00.  This is about as good looking a sporting goods catalog you'll see. Look at all the intricate graphics! Especially all the details on the box with the ball popping out the top...they even included the tissue behind the ball. And I like the tan lid flap that lists all the leagues that use the Spalding ball. Interesting that the California League is listed. And that's not all...look at all the rest of the illustrations...the tobogganing and so on. Sporting goods catalogs don't get much, if any better, than this. Now there are the Peck and Snyder catalogs from the late 1860-70's that are hand colored which really, are a different level. But for the late 80's early 90's, you've arrived! 

 

Within the zillions of auctions I've seen over the last twenty or so years, I must have seen other examples of this or similar catalogs, but I can't recall any. By their nature they are very fragile, so that's why they're so rare...few survived.

 

I admit I'm not a big fan of paper bound pamphlets, magazines and catalogs like this. Yes they're great but boy are they subject to damage. Think about it, they're paper, and they've been stapled together since 1890. Figure about five wars later they've probably been thumbed thru....say thirty or forty times...and all it takes is just a little tug for one of the pages to come loose. Then the $1,500.00 you paid goes down to $800.00. They're neat but they're high maintenance.  The best way to view them is just take photos the way I did and refer to them, and open it as little as possible.

 

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Posted 4/27/09 9:05PM PST

ADDENDA

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Black tipped wagon tongue bat, collection of Kevin Ogara

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While preparing this week's SAW I went to Net 54 Baseball Memorabilia Forum to research the Wagon Tongue bats seen on cover of this week's feature. On a wide scale of categories Net 54 is most likely the world's best place to go when you want to research or just discuss vintage baseball memorabilia. Just think of a world wide community of hobbyist who just love to talk about baseball memorabilia (sometimes other sports too), and are continually checking in to see what the latest discussion is...that's Net 54!

 

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Sure enough, just as I figured I not only got good chatter but two readers had wagon tongues and sent photos. Kevin Ogara sent the surrounding black tipped one, and Rhys Yeakley has the one below. But then it got even more interesting.... Renown baseball historian, memorabilia dealer, show promoter, Pacific Coast League specialist and collector Mark Mcrea sent me a double take of an email. Initially Mark was just addressing my inquiry about Wagon Tongues and sharing his speculations and knowledge about them. But while doing so some very interesting things were revealed. I'll let our exchange of email do the talking, see below. 

 

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Collection of Rhys Yeakley

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Collection of John Gennantonio 

S

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Email correspondence with 

Mark Macrae regarding wagon tongue bats

 

quite a story...you got his collection? wow...and he knew Al Spalding?...excuse me?...I wonder if there is anyone else in the hobby who personally knew some one who personally knew Al Spalding!

HI Carlton,
Hope all is going well. While I cannot verify that Wagon Tongue bats are made from Wagon tongues, my limited research on them has suggested (as your catalog suggests) that they were the top of the line bats during the limited timeframe that they were made. I've seen a few over the years, including one that is in the Hall of Fame's collection.

My interest in the bat stretches back to the early '70's when I was fortunate to meet and become friends with Al Erle. Al was born in the early 1880's and his uncle was a local baseball 'crank', getting Al interested in baseball during an era where kids were not encouraged to go to the ballparks. Al's exposure to baseball resulted in him turning pro at the turn of the Century. He played for about a decade in the PCL and California Leagues, become acquainted with a number of baseball's personalities during that era. One of those people he befriended was Al Spalding, who set Erle up in the sporting goods business, running the San Francisco Spalding outlet. Erle stayed in the sporting goods business until he retired in 1971 (about age 88), 
and around the time I met him.

Al sold me much of his collection including the Wagon Tongue he used during his playing days, which I still have. It definitely shows use, but is in pretty good shape and would probably still function today (in a game or as a weapon). Hope to see you in Cleveland this summer.

Mark

Mark, 

How's it going? Been wondering when your next show is....I'm doing fine thanks. Thanks for the Wagon Tongue report...quite a story...you got his collection? wow...and he knew Al Spalding?.Albert_Spalding.jpg (285379 bytes)..excuse me?...I wonder if there is anyone else in the hobby who personally knew some one who personally knew Al Spalding!....We may have to send you to the Hall of Fame to be debriefed and documented...matter fact we may have to sequester you there permanently for the good of the country....you'll have your own booth 
so people can visit you and ask questions...Don't worry you'll get Christmas and Thanksgiving off..... -Carlton

Hi Carlton,
Thanks for the note. Al Erle was definitely an interesting person to know and in addition to being a first generation link to Al Spalding, he was a first generation link to the 19th century Bay Area baseball. Beginning around 1972 I'd see him twice a month. Once at the monthly Oakland Oldtimers Baseball Association meetings (a hundred or so would attend including my grandfather), and once a month at his apartment in Oakland (where it was Al, myself, and either my grandfather or my mother. Prior to the home visits I'd bone up on early Bay Area baseball facts, usually by reading Fred Lange's book, and then ask Al to tell me about some of the guys. Al always had a personal story about each of the players, with incredible detail. After he'd tell me the story, he'd go in the closet, pull out one of a few scrapbook he had, and verify the story he had just told to me. I was and still am impressed with his recall, while he was in his 90's. My only regret is that I did not tape these interviews.


Next show at St Leanders is June 13th. Notices / emails should go out around May 15th. Hope to see you there.

Mark

end of correspondence

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