Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Heritage Auctions: Baseball Ribbons

This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time. Back in the day, the late 1800's, Baseball custom and pageantry was very different than today. Ball players wore more ornate uniforms with collars and bibs, teams were given painted trophy balls after matches, and they exchanged little ribbons before matches. Above is one of the finest examples of a collection of 62 19th Century Baseball Ribbons recently found in a attic that I have ever seen. Now, what was the purpose of these ribbons? I'll let the auction description tell the story.
"One or two of the customs of the old game were unique. Such for instance was the habit of the better class of clubs of exchanging, just before each match, silk badges imprinted with the club name. The players wore those accumulated trophies pinned upon the breast, sometimes with startling color effects; and the baseball man was proud, indeed, who could pin on the outside of his deep strata of badges a ribbon from the mighty Atlantics, Mutuals or Eckfords, attesting his worth for meeting giants, if not mastering them."
This collection includes the teams indicated above, as well as, many obscure clubs. It is believed these ribbons belonged to former 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings secondbaseman Charlie Sweasy. A better view of the ribbons is below. Click on any of the pics to enlarge.

As the auction description aptly points out, there is a great book yet be written about this item. I can imagine a Baseball historian using it as a springboard to discovering these ancient Baseball clubs and their stories.

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