A rare baseball document from the early stages of organized baseball is on the auction block. According to Goldin Auctions, the constitution and by-laws from the Excelsior Base Ball Club of Brooklyn - one the most prominent teams of the mid-19thCentury, is a newly discovered find from a recent estate sale in New York.
Created in the mid-1850's, the 16-page book was stored with a box of documents from the 18th and 19th centuries including some old land grants. The auction company says it was owned by a descendant from one of the team members and has been stored away for more than 150 years. With only a relatively small stain near the top edge of the front cover, the book remains in excellent condition.
"This historic document, which was created six years before the Civil War, documents the founding of one of baseball's first professional baseball teams," said Ken Goldin Founder of Goldin Auctions. "The National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown has a similar publication dated 1856, a year after this one. Books such as these are significant to memorabilia collectors and baseball historians alike and we are honored to make this historical document available for purchase. This is, without doubt, a museum quality piece that will soon become an important centerpiece in an advanced collection."
The Excelsior Base Ball Club of Brooklyn was one of the most prominent teams of the mid-19th Century and would later include Jim Creighton on its roster -- considered by many to be one of the most important players not in the Hall of Fame. The names of those associated with the club have been hand written in script on the inside back cover (presumably by a team member who owned the book) and are period correct; the first name on the list being that of N. J. Tappan who was the club's first President. The names are of the six officers and directors of the club along with, from what we can ascertain, the original 14 members of the club. The book also includes rules of baseball as well as important information about the team.
Goldin says the National Baseball Hall of Fame, who was helpful in authenticating the book and confirming it as the earliest known would welcome it into their Museum if the winning bidder was so inclined as to make a donation of it.
Bidding opened this week and the booklet currently has a high bid of over $3,000. The auction closes July 19.