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The Oldest Kansas Basketball Jersey Known to Exist!

Circa 1915 University of Kansas Jayhawks Game Worn Basketball Jersey. When most of the nation thinks of Kansas, we think of corn and basketball, and not necessarily in that order. First coached by the inventor of the game, Dr. James Naismith, the University of Kansas Jayhawks have given rise to a who's who of basketball legends: Adolph Rupp, Phog Allen, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Brown, Paul Pierce. The school trails only Kentucky in NCAA basketball victories to date.

The University had only just begun building to that current tally of 2,070 wins when this extraordinary early relic saw action on the Lawrence hardcourt. It derives from the family of an early member of the Kansas athletic department, and apparently its unofficial team photographer, as an assortment of both home and road photos was discovered along with the jersey when it surfaced in the mid-1990's. Unfortunately the precise details of the garment have been lost to history, but a study of old yearbook photos finds those teams operating in the middle of the 1910's wearing identical styles.

The imagery provides an intriguing insight, as a percentage of the two-toned wool garments lack the logo "K" on the chest. We have been able to determine that these letters are actually the individual players' personal varsity letters rather than an inherent decorative component of the jersey, so we can at least ascertain that the presented example was worn by a sophomore at a minimum. The letter is constructed of purple felt and appears to be hand-sewn to the garment, likely by the owner himself. The white felt number "2" on verso is machine-sewn, and somewhat pink from the dye bleed of the jersey body. A label is affixed at rear center interior tail, but the heavy wear has claimed any text or design that once appeared there. A scattering of small moth holes are noted in the interest of full disclosure, but they do not distract the eye and must be forgiven in light of the tremendous rarity and desirability of this one-of-a-kind relic.

An appreciation for the significance of this offering should not be confined merely to those with a Jayhawk affiliation, as the roots of the sport are firmly planted in Kansas soil. This is a true, seminal artifact of the origins of the organized game, and a fitting cornerstone for any advanced collection on the theme. LOA from Heritage Auctions.

Service and Handling Description: Clothing, Costumes & Jerseys (view shipping information)

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Auction Dates
August, 2012
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 6
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