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  #1  
Old 07-23-2020, 11:50 AM
aelefson aelefson is offline
Alan Elefson
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Default Show Your Early Baseballs

Hi-
Below is a bit of a long, boring post but please feel free to post your own early baseballs!

Several years ago I found an early bat at an antique store that matches closely to one with an 1865 patent date. Ever since, early memorabilia has been one of my main focus areas. I was able to pick up a few nice bats antiquing but I never found any early baseballs. I always hoped to find an early baseball "in the wild" as opposed to winning it in an auction.

Last September I found my first early baseball at Brimfield. It is the small figure eight one pictured below. It had been found in a barn in Pennsylvania and the dealer had just put it out (a friend had gotten me in early at one of the paid shows). I was very happy to buy it but it wasn't cheap (I think I paid about 300). A few weeks later I found a larger early figure eight ball with cool old repair stitching at an antique store not far from Brimfield in Central Massachusetts (the big figure eight one pictured below). I bought it for around 300 too.

I kept hoping to find a lemon peel ball. Not long after finding the larger figure eight I completed a trade with a friend (and board lurker) and got a lemon peel (probably valued in the 250-350 range). It is the one with the most damage pictured below.

At the beginning of the Covid lockdown, I purchased the lemon peel ball posted on Net54 by a board member. It was the most expensive of all of my early baseballs (in the 500 range) but it was in nice condition for its age. It is the lemon peel that has the best patina below.

Beyond that purchase, I have had a fairly lucky antique shopping streak going even during the pandemic and lockdowns. My regular flea market restarted in early June, and I have gotten some nice bats highlighted by a Reach ring bat and a Cobb JF Hillerich decal bat (both in rough condition but the price was right).

I couldn't believe my luck last week when at the end of a good morning of running around the flea market, a dealer I knew was showing a lemon peel type ball to another customer. I asked politely and was allowed to review it with the other customer. He ended up passing as he wanted to resell it but wasn't entirely comfortable with the price and how much he could get for it. I ended up buying it for 300 after sending a quick picture to a fellow board member who thought it was likely a lemon peel.

I know and trust the dealer I bought it from who said it came in a box of Civil War era items. I believe he said it came from Massachusetts, but I will confirm that this coming weekend when I see him again. It is odd as there is no visible stitching or stitch marks. It is harder than my other lemon peels and slightly larger.

I am amazed that a year ago I had no early baseballs in my collection and now I have two early figure eight style and three lemon peel style ones. I am amazed on what is still out there.

Alan
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Last edited by aelefson; 07-23-2020 at 05:03 PM. Reason: fixed spelling error
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  #2  
Old 07-23-2020, 02:20 PM
Huysmans Huysmans is offline
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Hey Alan,

I hope all is well... and that wasn't boring at all! As you mentioned, it's fascinating what can still be found out there, and I love hearing how items are found.

A nice lemon peel is definitely on my want list, and those are beauties, congrats!
.... hopefully we'll be able to chat again at the Boston Shriners Show when it resumes down the road.
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  #3  
Old 07-23-2020, 03:01 PM
bgar3 bgar3 is offline
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You do seem to on a hot streak. Nice stuff.
Show that original bat again sometime.
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  #4  
Old 07-23-2020, 03:20 PM
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That last ball appears to be an internal stitched lemon peel ball, but I wouldn't be sure without seeing it in person. Here is one with some internal stitching.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg lemonpeel3.jpg (74.3 KB, 287 views)
File Type: jpg lemonpeel4.jpg (73.9 KB, 281 views)

Last edited by GaryPassamonte; 07-23-2020 at 03:22 PM.
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  #5  
Old 07-23-2020, 04:13 PM
aelefson aelefson is offline
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Thank you guys! Brent, it will be great to see you again at a Wilmington in the future. Hopefully sooner rather than later. Bruce, thank you for the compliments and thank you for the trade recently. Gary, your ball is in amazing condition! I had read about internal stitching but I thought there would always be some outer stitching to finish the ball. I will try to post better photos this weekend.

Alan
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  #6  
Old 07-23-2020, 04:29 PM
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Alan- I'm glad you started this thread. Maybe we'll get to see some other examples. You've got a nice collection started.

Last edited by GaryPassamonte; 07-23-2020 at 04:29 PM.
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  #7  
Old 07-23-2020, 07:07 PM
khkco4bls khkco4bls is offline
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Guys when I get a chance tomorrow night I'll post some pictures of lemon peels
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  #8  
Old 07-23-2020, 07:41 PM
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I'll post a few of mine. Will split them into 2 posts, due to file size....

Below are some early Figure 8s, Belt Balls, Lemon Peels, and Hybrids. The 4th one pictured (which came from REA) is perhaps the missing link between the Lemon Peel and the Figure 8. Depending on the viewing angle, it is actually both!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Ball1.jpg (73.7 KB, 254 views)
File Type: jpg Ball2.jpg (70.6 KB, 254 views)
File Type: jpg Ball3.jpg (74.2 KB, 258 views)
File Type: jpg Ball4.jpg (70.6 KB, 257 views)
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  #9  
Old 07-23-2020, 07:46 PM
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A few more...

The last pic features some early, albeit "less ancient" Baseballs. Hope these are still appropriate for this thread!
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File Type: jpg Ball5.jpg (69.3 KB, 261 views)
File Type: jpg Ball6.jpg (71.8 KB, 251 views)
File Type: jpg Ball7.jpg (72.5 KB, 258 views)
File Type: jpg Ball8.jpg (76.6 KB, 257 views)
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  #10  
Old 07-24-2020, 06:26 AM
aelefson aelefson is offline
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Very cool Mark! Thank you for posting these. I like the hybrid, the belt ball, and the multi color one the best. I grew up in Stoughton MA which was the home of Elias Drake who supposedly made the first figure eight ball (but never patented it). It is really cool to see a hybrid as if someone was working to figure out which stitching method was best. Kevin, please show yours when you have time.
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  #11  
Old 07-24-2020, 06:34 AM
Bill Rayburn Bill Rayburn is offline
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I am really enjoying this thread. I have been trying to learn more about early baseballs and this will be a great help. Mark, I have never seen a "hybrid" ball, that is really special.
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  #12  
Old 07-24-2020, 07:26 AM
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Default just a few examples

on the shelf. Really just looking for a larger belt style (and of course anything unusual). Including a neat early trade card/ticket featuring a golden lemon peel....
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File Type: jpg Scan_20200724.jpg (73.5 KB, 233 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_2584.jpg (76.5 KB, 226 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_2586.jpg (76.5 KB, 238 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_2585.jpg (78.4 KB, 233 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_2587.jpg (78.5 KB, 238 views)
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  #13  
Old 07-24-2020, 09:08 AM
aelefson aelefson is offline
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Very cool Henry! I also really like the trade card/ticket. I do not have many illustrations of old baseballs in my collection. I think I have several woodcut advertisements for baseballs for sale beginning in the 1870s but none earlier.

For any of you who posted already or plan to post, any cool backstories with the balls? I am always curious where they were found. I remember reading about one being found within the walls of an early house in Massachusetts several years ago.

Alan
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  #14  
Old 07-24-2020, 10:13 AM
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Mark and Henry...... Just curious, as I have several early baseballs.... do you guys 'clean up' the leather a bit to get some of the 'shine' in the pictures? Maybe just a damp cloth? They look great and if there's a process, it might work on mine as well. I'll post some pictures soon. Thanks...........Matt
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  #15  
Old 07-24-2020, 01:09 PM
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Default well

I never touch them. On a shelf in a cabinet. Imagine at some point I'll have to dust them - but 100% I would never introduce any cleaning agent. As to how they were handled before me - out of my hands.... Now if I could just find the right glove...
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  #16  
Old 07-24-2020, 04:09 PM
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Me neither...

I may have wiped off some dust or debris when I first acquired them. But have never "treated" them, and never used any cleaners or solutions.

I just don't recommend it for items this old, as I really don't know how the early leather would react. And it's not like something you can re-do (once it's done).

The battle scars are part of their histories. So I just prefer to leave them as-is.
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  #17  
Old 07-24-2020, 06:44 PM
sicollector1954 sicollector1954 is offline
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Default Ball

I only have this one.
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  #18  
Old 07-24-2020, 06:56 PM
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Default I Have a few early baseballs to share....




Most of these are pretty self explanatory. The two that I wanted to make note of are;
1. Second row far left. That is a Gutty Baseball. It has a Gutta Percha, (rubber outer layer), with twine and some type of core that shows up on x-ray. I would not have understood the ball had I not seen an example in "Banana Bats and Ding-Dong Balls". Reach was trying to create a seamless baseball.
2. The second is the baseball in the third row closest to the viewer, second from the far right. It has over 130 stitches. It has to be late 1860's early 1870's.




1858 New York rules baseball. One piece lemon peel trophy baseball Atlantics 39 Mutuals 20.



Possibly a seamless baseball. Possibly a "Dead Red" baseball. Lynch ball and Tenner ball.



1870's baseball with it's original canvas wrapper. 1890's J. Carr's baseball with box.




D&M double seam with deerskin leather. Possibly a "Dead Red" baseball. Spalding High Flyer. '03 Pullium baseball.






Early 1900's UPenn and Columbia trophy baseballs.



1890 Kiffe Sporting Goods baseball trophy.




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  #19  
Old 07-24-2020, 09:47 PM
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Default no way

am I gonna say your balls are great :-) I also love the totality of the initial display and I'm thinking about how badly I need a glove like either example displayed there. Super post. Many thanks for sharing!
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  #20  
Old 07-25-2020, 07:05 AM
Bill Rayburn Bill Rayburn is offline
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John, fabulous ball collection and extremely well displayed. If space allowed it would be great to hear the hunt and acquisition stories on each one.
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  #21  
Old 07-25-2020, 07:50 AM
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Default Old Geezer!

Bill,
After 30 years of collecting it just happens. A little here and there, it all adds up!
Some of the balls represent friendships. Baseballs that other collectors had and retired from the hobby that I was able to buy. Some came from 5am flea markets and antique shows. Others came in trades. Some came from the usual dealers, auctions and shows. All great memories! Itís been fun to be a small part of the hobby over the years. I see myself starting to share more because my end is coming soon. My biggest regret is that I have chosen to be somewhat silent and sit on the sidelines. I will have to pass this stuff on to the next generation soon. Itís bittersweet. Iím starting to think about my exit strategy. Itís hard to part with something that has been part of your identity for so long!
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  #22  
Old 07-25-2020, 07:55 AM
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Default Impeccable displays!

Hey Mark,
As always impeccable displays! Excellent memorabilia in those displays as well!
Thanks for sharing!

Quote:
Originally Posted by perezfan View Post
A few more...

The last pic features some early, albeit "less ancient" Baseballs. Hope these are still appropriate for this thread!
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  #23  
Old 07-25-2020, 08:04 AM
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Default Multi color lemon peel 4 piece baseballs

Scrolling through these images I am seeing lemon peels with alternating colors of red and brown. I have one that alternates red and green. I was told that the reason was that some teams would color the balls their team colors. What do you guys think? Is that correct? I have found the multicolored lemon peels to be small in diameter compared to most lemon peels. Could another reason be that the colored balls were youth/child balls similar to 19th century youth/child bats?
Thoughts?
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  #24  
Old 07-25-2020, 08:14 AM
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Default Great condition 19th century baseballs!

Henry,
Canít get any nicer balls than those! Congrats!
I might have a belt ball to trade?
Iíve never been able to purchase a 19th century baseball/football trade card. So rare! They seem to get swallowed up before they make it to auction?

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Originally Posted by 1880nonsports View Post
on the shelf. Really just looking for a larger belt style (and of course anything unusual). Including a neat early trade card/ticket featuring a golden lemon peel....
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  #25  
Old 07-25-2020, 08:19 AM
pedodds pedodds is offline
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Default The Boss

Hey Gary,
I think your lemon peel is called ďThe BossĒ? I believe I have an 1884 hardware store sporting catalog with that exact stitching pattern. We are out of town. I can copy it and email it to you when we return in a week if youíd like.


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Originally Posted by GaryPassamonte View Post
That last ball appears to be an internal stitched lemon peel ball, but I wouldn't be sure without seeing it in person. Here is one with some internal stitching.
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  #26  
Old 07-25-2020, 09:18 AM
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That sounds good, John. Great images and a great collection. Let me know before you are going to downsize so I can start saving my pennies!
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  #27  
Old 07-25-2020, 09:19 AM
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Great looking stuff everyone. All I have is a nice repro.
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  #28  
Old 07-25-2020, 09:31 AM
khkco4bls khkco4bls is offline
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OutThis is kind of what's left of my collection after I moved four years ago and sold everything else pretty much. The first one is a very rare William Read & Sons salesman's sample
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File Type: jpg 20200725_112527.jpg (78.4 KB, 169 views)
File Type: jpg 20200725_112553.jpg (76.8 KB, 173 views)

Last edited by khkco4bls; 07-25-2020 at 09:32 AM.
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  #29  
Old 07-25-2020, 09:33 AM
khkco4bls khkco4bls is offline
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Just a few more
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File Type: jpg 20200725_112607.jpg (76.2 KB, 176 views)
File Type: jpg 20200725_112611.jpg (76.6 KB, 174 views)
File Type: jpg 20200725_112615.jpg (77.8 KB, 170 views)
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  #30  
Old 07-25-2020, 10:21 AM
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Default Read & Sons ball

Wow! You kept the cream of the crop! Great collection!
The stitching on the Read and Sons ball looks 1880ís? Is that correct?

Quote:
Originally Posted by khkco4bls View Post
Just a few more
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  #31  
Old 07-25-2020, 11:24 AM
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Hey John...
Many thanks for the kind words. And what you wrote about soon exiting the hobby was very poignant. That time inevitably draws nearer for me as well... and I agree that the "sharing" part of the hobby is the most meaningful and rewarding part.

Your collection is a true inspiration to everyone here... what a spectacular and fantastic labor of love!

Kevin...
Amazing early examples. It's incredible to see them all together like that, knowing how difficult each one is to acquire. Behind the Belt Ball and Figure 8 Ball, the legs of a bronze-looking statue are visible. Can you possibly post a photo of that piece?

Thanks, and great stuff!
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  #32  
Old 07-25-2020, 12:02 PM
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Default National get together

Mark,
Back at you!
I wish all us equipment guys could get together at the National!
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  #33  
Old 07-25-2020, 01:06 PM
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Default hmmmm

"I will have to pass this stuff on to the next generation soon. Itís bittersweet. Iím starting to think about my exit strategy. Itís hard to part with something that has been part of your identity for so long!"

for me - THIS. It's quite a struggle..............

Kevin - another WOW. More big balls! That salesman sample - OMG.
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  #34  
Old 07-25-2020, 02:26 PM
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Here's another smaller, earlier example.
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File Type: jpg lemonpeeln1.jpg (72.1 KB, 161 views)
File Type: jpg lemonpeeln2.jpg (73.7 KB, 158 views)
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  #35  
Old 07-25-2020, 05:13 PM
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Wow! Amazing examples! Pedodds, I too had heard about different teams with the colors but I assume the smaller ones (like mine) were for kids games (not necessarily baseball). I am sure I have other questions but I will need time to look at all of the examples shown. Thank you Pedodds and Kevin for providing so many amazing examples. Gary, I like the large seam on your latest example.

Alan
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  #36  
Old 07-25-2020, 08:33 PM
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Default 19th C. Baseballs

Thanks to Alan for launching this enjoyable and interesting thread...here are some of our 19th C. baseballs.

www.dugouttreasures.com
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File Type: jpg IMG_1279.jpg (79.6 KB, 137 views)

Last edited by jpop43; 07-25-2020 at 08:47 PM. Reason: error
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  #37  
Old 07-25-2020, 08:34 PM
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Lemon Peels...
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File Type: jpg Lemon_Peel FL.jpg (25.8 KB, 136 views)
File Type: jpg lemonpeel1 FL.jpg (68.3 KB, 143 views)
File Type: jpg NatlLemon2 FL.jpg (59.8 KB, 141 views)
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  #38  
Old 07-25-2020, 08:35 PM
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Belted Balls / H Stitch...
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File Type: jpg H_Stitch_Ball FL.jpg (72.1 KB, 140 views)
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  #39  
Old 07-25-2020, 08:36 PM
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Trophy Ball...
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File Type: jpg FultonBall3 FL.jpg (60.9 KB, 143 views)
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  #40  
Old 07-25-2020, 08:37 PM
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Figure 8's...
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File Type: jpg 1870s_Ball_2 fl.jpg (44.3 KB, 137 views)
File Type: jpg Figure_8 FULL.jpg (71.1 KB, 137 views)
File Type: jpg BlueFigureEight full.jpg (34.2 KB, 136 views)
File Type: jpg Fig_8_Ball fl.jpg (73.2 KB, 140 views)
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  #41  
Old 07-25-2020, 08:38 PM
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TOC Figure 8's...
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File Type: jpg League_Ball fl.jpg (77.9 KB, 143 views)
File Type: jpg Practice_Ball fl.jpg (77.5 KB, 147 views)
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  #42  
Old 07-25-2020, 08:52 PM
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Circa 1905-1910 Spalding Double Seam Ball...
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  #43  
Old 07-26-2020, 08:04 AM
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Great stuff from all!
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Old 07-27-2020, 11:34 AM
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I am posting this for John G. It is a pitcher's warm up ball. It was used in the 1870s by pitchers who used it in a cartwheel motion to get their arm loose. It is quite heavy weighing close to a pound and is between the size of a baseball and a softball.
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Last edited by GaryPassamonte; 07-27-2020 at 11:36 AM.
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  #45  
Old 07-27-2020, 11:46 AM
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Default Civil War Cannon Ball converted you a pitchers warm up ball.

Thanks Gary!
Iím out of town and canít upload. This ball was sold in Ruckerís auction a ways back. It was advertised as a pitchers warm up ball. It sure feels heavy enough to be a cannon ball. Rucker seemed to be expert enough for me to bite? I think I have seen at least one more sold in auction over the years. I still have that old Best of Yesterday catalog. They donít have the quality and quantity of memorabilia like they used to anymore! It seems to be slowly drying up!

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Originally Posted by GaryPassamonte View Post
I am posting this for John G. It is a pitcher's warm up ball. It was used in the 1870s by pitchers who used it in a cartwheel motion to get their arm loose. It is quite heavy weighing close to a pound and is between the size of a baseball and a softball.
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Old 07-27-2020, 12:53 PM
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I still have that catalog, too, John. It is in tatters.
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Old 07-27-2020, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by 1880nonsports View Post
on the shelf. Really just looking for a larger belt style (and of course anything unusual). Including a neat early trade card/ticket featuring a golden lemon peel....
Hey, that's great woodwork behind the balls. What kind of shelf/cabinet do those sit on? Show a pic of the furniture.
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Old 07-27-2020, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by jpop43 View Post
Circa 1905-1910 Spalding Double Seam Ball...
That's a cool baseball.

Really, this thread is great. The only equipment I have is a single mitt I was given by an aunt. She said she picked it up at a garage sale for $10. I'll have to do more sleuthing at antique stores to try to locate some early period baseballs to go along with it.
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Collecting '61 Topps, Tris Speaker, 1930-45 Cincinnati Reds, T206 Cincinnati
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Old 07-27-2020, 02:32 PM
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A few more...

The last pic features some early, albeit "less ancient" Baseballs. Hope these are still appropriate for this thread!
Mark I like how you displayed that glove standing straight up. Is that a home-made glove holder? How'd you get it to stand that way?
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Old 07-27-2020, 07:09 PM
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Mark I like how you displayed that glove standing straight up. Is that a home-made glove holder? How'd you get it to stand that way?
Hi Tim...
The white glove is perched on a wood glove stand. I got it from a fellow collector named Paul Montesano, who might be a member here. I believe Paul makes these himself, and used to sell them periodically (both directly and on eBay). They were very reasonably priced, as I recall.

If you (or someone you know) is handy, they actually look pretty simple to make. It's just two prongs and a flat oval base. I'll follow up with a pic shortly...

Last edited by perezfan; 07-27-2020 at 07:40 PM.
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