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Press Release - November 14, 2006
Personal Archives of Basketball Inventor, Dr. James Naismith, to Hit the Auction Block!
DALLAS, TEXAS: The largest collection ever publicly offered of manuscripts, letters, photographs and other personal items from the life of Dr. James Naismith (1861 - 1939), the inventor of the game of basketball, will be auctioned by his family through Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, Texas (www.HA.com), December 8, 2006.
Announcement of the unprecedented auction was made by Dr. Naismith's granddaughter, Mrs. Hellen Carpenter, and Mr. Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions for Heritage, at a news conference November 14 in Clayton, Missouri where the historic archives were kept for decades by Naismith's heirs.
"The collection represents some of the most significant artifacts from the game of basketball ever made available to the public," said Ivy.
"Sports historians will be simply floored by these archives." Ivy said. "Naismith was a tremendously prolific writer, both of letters and of texts relating to basketball and other interests, and his writings offer unique insight into the mind of basketball's most significant figure."
The collection contains over 300 lots that will be sold to the highest bidders in a no reserve Heritage Signature Auction to be held in Dallas and online. A few highlights include:
Handwritten and highly detailed manuscript describing the events of the first basketball game in December, 1891. "This ranks among the most important and significant athletic texts ever put on paper," notes Ivy. "Imagine, for example, if one were to unearth a handwritten text by Alexander Cartwright recounting the first baseball game at Hoboken's Elysian Fields. Only a document such as that could compare."
Dr. Naismith's personal copy of the 1891 Springfield College class photograph. "The participants in the very first basketball game are pictured here, along with the inventor himself," explained Ivy. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the only surviving example of this incredible photo, and the fact that it was Dr. Naismith's personal copy increases the appeal exponentially."
An incredible photograph of the first basketball court at Springfield College. "This amazing image is the only one known to document the scene of the first game," said Ivy. "The original peach basket is nailed to the balcony railing above the court, with the ancient leather ball placed on the court below. The image dates from the first weeks of the sport's existence."
The whistle used by Naismith as he served as the first basketball coach in University of Kansas history. "This is a thrilling artifact from the birth of Kansas basketball, and we expect that interest among Jayhawks will be intense," predicted Ivy.
Dr. Naismith's passport issued in advance of his attendance at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics, the first to feature basketball as a medal sport. "Aside from the fact that this piece provided Dr. Naismith entry to Hitler's Germany for the debut of his sport at the Games, the passport features flawless handwriting and autographs from the founder of the sport, including a stunning signed photograph," said Ivy.
Dozens of autographs in various formats. "Handwritten letters, signed photographs, and signatures cut from checks and removed from books will provide an unprecedented opportunity for collectors to bring this tremendously scarce autograph into their collections," said Ivy. "One shouldn't be fooled into believing that Naismith autographs are anything other extremely rare-this auction probably more than doubles the known population in the hobby."
Heritage Auction Galleries specializes in rare and collectible sports cards, as well as uniforms, equipment, and related vintage sports memorabilia. Consignments for future Signature Sports Auctions are currently being accepted. Prospective consignors or sellers of quality vintage sports cards and sports memorabilia are encouraged to contact:
Chris Ivy at 800-872-6467 Ext. 319 or email: Civy@HA.com
Mike Gutierrez at 800-872-6467 Ext. 183 or email: MikeG@HA.com
Mark Jordan at 800-872-6467 Ext. 187 or email: MarkJ@HA.com
Jonathan Scheier at 800-872-6467 Ext. 314 or email: JonathanS@HA.com
To order the next Heritage Auction Galleries Signature catalog, contact Nicole Jewell, or write c/o Heritage Auction Galleries, 3500 Maple Avenue, 17th Floor, Dallas, TX 75219.