Items from the holdings of super collector Gary Cypres are on display in a special exhibit at The Craft and Folk Art Museum of Los Angeles this summer. Entitled Baseball: The All-American Game, the exhibit highlights the folk art pieces in Cypres’ mammoth collection of rare baseball memorabilia.
The exhibition will explore baseball’s impact on American folk art made between the late-1800s to present day.
On Sunday, July 8 at 3 p.m., Cypress will offer a ‘Collectors Talk’ at the Museum.
While Cypres owns hundreds of important sports artifacts in his mammoth collection that is normally housed in its own private 32,000-square foot southern California museum, the exhibit focuses on how baseball has impacted culture.
Hand-painted tobacco advertisements in the exhibition underscore how the tobacco industry capitalized on the phenomenon by offering collectible baseball cards and novelty items to boost cigarette sales. “Baseball Hero Quilt” (c. 1916) is an example of flannels collected from dozens of cigarette packets sewn together as a remarkable patchwork quilt of professional baseball players. Consumer giveaways at ballparks also provided opportunities for additional collectibles such as the “Fan for a Fan” (c. 1910),designed for female spectators.
When Americans weren’t watching or playing baseball, the sport’s presence persisted in daily American life. Baseball-themed children’s board games and penny arcade figures like “Boston Arcade Figure” (c. 1895) and ”Atta Boy” (1932) demonstrate the ease with which the sport translated into nonphysical leisure activities. Traveling carnivals presented hand-carved and painted baseball-toss games. And before the widespread use of radio, public establishments like bars and hotels kept manually operated scoreboards for people to keep track of their favorite teams’ standings.
“In terms of collecting, the arcade figures are the rarest and most valuable, and the things I treasure the most because they’re sculptures,” Cypres told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “You could put them with any kind of contemporary art and they go.”
The exhibit is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Sept. 9. Admission is $7; $5 for students and seniors.
Cypres talks about collecting in the video below.
Here’s a brief tour of the Sports Museum of L.A.