It did its duty for 100 years, stuffed into the wall of an old cigar store in Michigan, providing a measure of insulation in the days before cellulose and fiberglass. Hidden away from view for over a century, a relic of the marriage of baseball and tobacco was uncovered a couple of years ago during the building’s demolition. Sold as is at auction as in early 2017, it has now been restored to its former glory and is on the auction block once again where it’s expected to fetch $40,000 or more.
The tri-fold cardboard advertising sign had to have been quite an eye-catcher then as it is now. measuring just over five feet wide and over three feet tall, the sign depicts an early 20th century baseball game while promoting Piedmont cigarettes. One of only two known examples, it will be among the featured attractions in the Heritage Auctions Platinum Night event in Dallas August 18-19.
At one point decades ago, the sign was among paper items stuffed into the wall to provide a measure of insulation from the cold Upper Midwest winters as was often done at a time when few other materials may have been available.
The imagery is focused on a panoramic view of a Dead Ball Era game with fans in a packed grandstand wearing straw hats, many smoking. A photographer kneels on the ground in foul territory while a white-clad vendor hawks nickel packs of Piedmonts, “the cigarette of quality.”
The ad is focused on a panoramic view of a Dead Ball Era game, complete with a photographer kneeling in foul ground and fans in the stands, wearing straw hats and smoking (what else) cigarettes. While an exact date of issue isn’t really known, the packs of cigarettes shown in the outfield match those which contained the iconic T206 tobacco cards of 1909-1911. Given its size, it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest the sign may have once been placed in the store’s window as part of a campaign that promoted the sale of cigarettes which contained the cards.
Despite being originally uncovered in three pieces, the sign was generally in good shape. Restoration has resulted in the piece once again being whole. Some water damage was repaired and small amounts of paper loss and general cleaning were done by a paper conservator.
The back contains a large advertising slogan.
Bidding is set to open July 27 via the Heritage Auctions website.