Very Rare Box
.....So the Spalding Company in New York City shipped this football somewhere....and they were very specific it was only a sample and not to be played with....And so the question would be why?....footballs are meant to be played with...what would make the ball shipped in this box
special?....There could only one answer...It was sent to a retailer to be a store display........
typically like to examine and research obscure aspects
of what they collect. This box would be a considered a very rare
aspect of football antiques that no one ever thought about...that just sort of showed up out
of no where. It would be considered almost beyond obscure. In
quarter century collecting football antiques I never once thought
about the wooden shipping
crate footballs came in. Its from the production side as opposed
to the athletic endeavor side of football antiques. Very few
artifacts related to the production side surface beyond perhaps an
occasional receipt or some sort of stationary. Little to nothing
has been written on the early production of American footballs.
Other than a c1930's group photo of production workers of Spalding
tennis racquets I happen to have, I don't recall ever seeing a
photo of the inside of a Spalding sporting goods production
facility. I have vague knowledge the very earliest football's used
in American universities were imported from the Lilly White
concern in England and believe A.G. Spalding Bros. was the middleman.
Former A.G. Spalding
corner Pacific and 6th Ave. Brooklyn N.Y.,
1999 - demolished 2012
Kevin Walsh, forgotten-ny.com
worst time to find something great on eBay is right before
it ends or right after it's listed....If you find it right before it ends you may not
have time to research and get a handle on it....If you find it right after it's listed
you agonize over it all week.....Take
this Spalding "Foot Ball" box...what a week that
was...intense right up to the last seconds...I watched it like a
hawk the whole week and watched it close on my phone early on a Sunday
morning as I was walking around an antiques fair...Here's the
came across this incredible box as I was power scrolling eBay
around 9:00 A.M. on Sunday, January 6th 2013. As I recall it
appeared to have just been listed...I
think I was searching with the two key words "football"
and "antique" and it came up. It was the kind of piece
that ends the search session...Essentially I could search for a year and not see
anything as good so there was no point searching further that
morning. I needed to examine the listing carefully to decide how to
proceed. That is, determine if it was real...how rare it was...how
much to bid etc...Based on the style of the lettering I was certain the box was
from the late 19th century. I couldn't recall seeing that style
lettering before and thought it could even be one the earliest
football shipping boxes. It was so archaic it seemed almost from
the “Cowboy and Indian” era...I was riveted, the more I
thought it thru the more impressed I became.
photos in the eBay listing were shot kind of weird, plus I couldn't enlarge them to examine it close
up...However they were just good enough. Sometimes it's better not
to ask for better photos since a seller is liable to post them for
everyone to see, and stir more interest from competing
bidders...So I downloaded them and opened with my own photo viewer
and enlarged it best I could...
from eBay listing Carlton had to go on
- IT PASSES
looked fine...It didn't look a bit fake like something made up.
I'd never seen any floating around eBay and it looked too good to
be a repro. If it were a repro it would have been an awfully good
one; and I felt confident it was genuine. That
decided, it was then a matter or how much to bid...I had the
whole week to think it thru but right off the bat I thought I'd go
at least $500.00.
other than the exciting product title "SPALDING'S OFFICIAL
FOOT BALL", it looks like your standard antiquated wooden
shipping crate. However, there's a little more
intrigue....The left side of the box
says "SAMPLE ONLY"....." and the right side says
"...."NOT FOR USE"...Sample only, not for use...A
little bit of an anomaly if you think about it. The box measures 15
inches wide, by 12 inches deep, by 11 inches tall....Footballs
were bigger and fatter in the late 19th century....Today collectors
refer to then as melon balls.
So the size of the box would have only be enough room for one melon
football, and the Spalding
Company in New York City shipped it somewhere....And
they were very specific it was only a sample and not to be played
with....And so the question
would be why?....footballs are meant to be played with...what
would make the ball shipped in this box special?...The only two places I can think
that Spalding would have
shipped balls to would have been a school or a retailer....Had it
been sent to a school Spalding would have wanted it to be played
with. There could
only one answer...It was sent to a retailer to be a store display.
No doubt they were very specific the ball
not to be played with so it would remain presentable as a point of
purchase display. Perhaps a display stand of some kind may have
been packed in with the ball. Spalding probably sent many of these
crated sample balls to retailers all around the country. It
would likely have been shipped by train to a regional hub, then
transported by horse drawn wagon to the destination retailer.
25 plus years of planes
trains and automobiles looking
for this stuff....attending innumerable antiques shows of every kind...crack of dawn flea
ten National Sports Collectors Conventions...searching shows and
antique stores on foot in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlantic City,
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, I
have never seen a
football shipping crate like this....And for it to be a
Spalding...not a Wright and Ditson, not a Draper Maynard etc. but a
Spalding...the king of sporting goods and most desired by
collectors....the planets aligned!...After putting it all together
I was sold.
something different about the box than the usual things I buy that
I couldn't quite put my finger on at the time. I think
I've figured it out now though...It's the shock of it's common roughhewn
nature combined with seeing the Spalding name on
it...That is, I see these kind of wooden crates at flea markets
pretty regularly that you couldn't give me for free....So I went
from considering them junk to bidding hundreds of dollars!
Overall the seller
did a pretty good job of
listing it. The
listing started at $19.00 with no reserve. The categories he put it under weren't bad. He had it
title of the listing was "Antique wooden dovetail Spalding's Football crate box, early 1900's, New York".
The seller had used three key words in that title that were good for
him but bad
for me: "antique",
"football", and "Spalding". The word
"antique" particularly, combined with either the other
two, gave the listing higher exposure. I on
the other hand took a run at my own tactical advantage but lost
out. I hit him up for a BIN...a "buy it now"...but he
declined. Below our exchange of emails.
Email exchange with seller
Hello, What a great box. Is the Spalding printing on the front or top? So the box is nailed shut and can not be opened?
Please know I have a snipe bid loaded to bid at the last seconds. So please do not end it early. If you like I could make you an offer to end it early...or you could tell me what you would need to do so....your call what ever you like. otherwise I'll just bid at the end However if you do a BIN it would have to be on
eBay, you would need to add the BIN.
Very Kindly -Carlton of SportsAntiques.com
Carlton, The printing is on the front of the box; the top of the box is open. Out of fairness to those who have bid, I plan on letting the auction run its course and go to the highest bidder. Best of luck and thanks for looking.
OK boss, thanks for getting back to me...if you change your mind I'm always here. Back to the details though....may I ask the history of the box....that is where it's been....what part of the country did you get it in? Did it come from an auction? estate sale? flea market? family heirloom? Do you collect a lot of boxes like this? Any other sports ones? Thanks -Carlton
Carlton, I got the box at a flea market, maybe 20 years ago or so, in Iowa. I don't have any history of the box, however; sorry. I do collect advertising boxes and buy whatever ones I think are unique, but I mainly look for brewery ones. I don't have any other sports ones right now, but I always keep my eye open for just about anything. Thanks and good luck.
so...with all my wonderful, meticulous, over the top research,
contemplation, tactical maneuvering and planning I made my
decision and loaded a $777.77 snipe bid. That figure was not based on what I
thought it was worth but what I could afford. Had it been last
summer when business was good I'd have put more. In my minds eye I saw
it marching up into the $1,200.00 range...but I just didn't have
it. Had times been better I'd have put around $2,500.00-$2,700.00
as my maximum and hoped like heck it didn't go that high.
mentioned I found the box right after it was listed and I watched
it like a hawk for 7 days, ending on Jan. 13th at 8:53AM. I was walking around the
once a month Sacramento Antiques Fair and watched it on my phone
as it closed...People milling about me as I was fixated.
I think it was around $353.00 right up to the last few seconds...20
seconds....15 seconds...10 seconds...still around $353.00...8
seconds...5 seconds...and boom...
a fraction of a second it went to $513.74 and in that split
second I thought I'd gotten it...and a split second later
boom...my $777.77 got tire tracks on it. I saw the bad news of the
$787.77...I was stunned...reeling...people milled past me at the
show but I wasn't there...It was over....I lost
it....gone....done...history...I was out...All I could do was stare
down an isle in an aimless stupor and try to comprehend what just
happened...People casually strolling around me had no idea what
just went down. I continued around the show looking at things but
really didn't see anything...I was in a daze. Finally I left the
show and just sat in my car shell shocked for a while before
I left. I was in kind of a daze the rest of the day and even
About ten minutes
after it closed I texted a friend of mine John Gennantonio to see if he
got it. Later that week I learned he saw it but dismissed it
as fake...He reasoned the box should have said "A.G.
Spalding" not just "Spalding's". I called another
friend in Los Angeles Ryan Sims to see if maybe he'd gotten
it...No but it was sweet, he said...I'm trying to figure who may
have gotten it I said....Oh ****** ****** got it for sure he
said....you think? I said. No question it was ****** ******...he's
"Mr. Spalding", Ryan said...Then a light clicked on....I had
completely forgot about ****** ******. I'd heard about him for
years that he buys up everything Spalding...Yup....likely it was
him. I've met him briefly at a National or two and had his
card....but was reluctant to call him since I hardly knew him. I talked to John
Gennantonio to see if he knew him well enough to call and see if
he got it...John's always super busy and it took about a week but
finally John talked to him and yes...he confirmed he was the
buyer.....It was kind of a relief to at least know where it
went....John related that ******* ******* told him he'd bought a
similiar Spalding box for baseballs out of a Hunt auction years
ago and paid in the $9,000.00-$10,000.00 range so he was very
happy to get the football one for $787.00....My reaction to
that?....I KNEW IT DARN IT!!!...I knew it was a force....
kinds of "outbid" situations always remind me of a joke
I once heard....A young collector was talking to an old man who
was a sage veteran collector....The young man says to
him....You've been at this a long time....tell me....what's the
secret to forming a great collection..."Have lots of
money" the old man said!
emailed ******** ******* to get his take on it...He sent the
following thoughts he has on the box...with the disclaimer it's
AS UNPROVEN CONJECTURE
WINNER OF SPALDING'S FOOT BALL BOX
....."Its fine if you want to publish my notes,
but I cannot prove this it is mostly
“Here are my thoughts on the crate.
C. 1892 Spalding shipping crate for, "Spalding's Official Football". The crate also has markings of, "sample only", and "not for use". The style of Victorian print used in the "S" in "Spalding's" is very similar to that used on Spalding's 1885 catalog covers.
In 1892 Spalding promoted the "No. J" Intercollegiate Football as the only "Official" ball adopted by the Intercollegiate Football Association.
The inside cover of the 1892 Spalding football guide displays a reprint of a letter from the secretary of the association which reads in part, "The Intercollegiate Football Association at the convention held in New York on May 10'th 1892 unanimously adopted the Spalding No. J football as the Official ball of the Association,,,,".
This crate "may" have included a prototype of one of the first "official" intercollegiate footballs ever offered by Spalding of anyone else. It was probably sent to a University or perhaps to a Spalding retailer or
distributor for examination as a marketing or promotional tool for future sales of the now "Official No. J football". The words "Official" and "Sample Only" and general dating of the Style of the "S" points to this possibility.
It is most likely unique, but none of us really know what is out there do we?”
SPALDING FOOTBALL GOODS SIGN
23 1/2" wide by 18 1/2" tall
- Carlton Hendricks Collection
Foot Ball box would have made a nice companion piece
box was kind of an extension of what is probably my favorite piece
in my collection...my c1890's Spalding Foot Ball Goods Sign...I
kind of saw them going perfect together. Winding
this up, I would have to say...before I started collecting....had
someone told me I would someday write a story about a wooden
shipping crate, I'm not sure I would have believed them.
honest, the winning bidder did me two things....saved me a lot of
money and a lot of space! The box would have taken up a chunk of
real estate. Anytime you have a box to display it can take a fair
amount of room in your collection. Cigar boxes are a good example. I did take the
space issue into consideration in the heat of it all...and I'd
have hated to lose that much room...but....I
would have...It was that great!