Description

    A priceless time capsule from "The Father of Black Baseball!"

    1910's-20's Rube Foster Personal Photography & Document Archive.
    Forgotten for decades in a disused storage area of an old building, this thrilling archive emerges now, over eighty-five years after Rube Foster's passing, to supply the collecting world with the most substantial physical record of the pioneering Negro Leaguer ever made available to the collecting market. Foster is widely considered the greatest African-American player of the first decade of the twentieth century, but his essential contributions in founding the Negro National League--the first longstanding professional league of its kind--is his greatest association.

    There are over one hundred individual items in this archive, and many date to the years following Foster's passing, perhaps most notably in material relating to his 1981 Hall of Fame induction, including the handwritten index cards representing the speech delivered by his son, as well as photographs, a program and a banquet invitation from the ceremonies.

    But we will concentrate here on the portion of the collection owned by Rube Foster personally, while advising interested bidders to visit Dallas if at all possible, to examine the archive in person, as it is too vast and varied to fully capture in catalog text and imagery.

    1) Most notable is an original photograph of Foster's brother and fellow Hall of Fame enshrinee Bill Foster (5x8") with a pencil notation on the back reading, "Brother Bill Foster, Summer 1928." Leading Negro League autograph expert Kevin Keating has confirmed that this writing is in Rube Foster's hand, thus effectively a partial signature. We also want to make it clear that PSA/DNA declined to opine on the writing, ruling "inconclusive," but not failing.

    2) Also intriguing is a pair of 3.5x5.5" photographs of Rube Foster, one bearing handwriting that reads, "Smooth - Havana, Cuba 3-11-16," and the other simply, "Brother." Keating has stated that this writing is not in Foster's hand.

    3) The format of the "Brother" photograph, with raised studio stamping at lower right that reads, "A. P. Bedou, New Orleans," appears four more times within the archive, none bearing period writing however. This photograph format has sold for well over $1,000 individually in its rare appearances at auction.

    Next, we turn our attention to three extraordinary early Negro League photographs, each glued down to chipped fragments of heavy cardboard, suggesting they were part of a larger display at one point.

    4) 1907-10 Leland Giants team reall photo postcard (3.5x5.5"). Foster stands at far right. Also in the Baseball Hall of Fame: Pete Hill (standing far left). We are aware of only one other example of this postcard, which sold at auction in 2010 for over $22,000.

    5) Late 1910's Chicago American Giants team photograph (6x9"). Foster is not pictured, but we believe that fellow Hall of Famer Pop Lloyd is present. We can find no other examples of this photograph in any archive.

    6) Another unknown photograph, of game action (6x9.5"). Legible handwritten text below image includes, "Grandstand at __ Texas, Chicago WHIP." Given that the cardboard fragment to which it is attached links it to the other numbered images above, we suspect a date within the 1910's.

    7) Three one-of-a-kind snapshots picturing Rube Foster. Two find him in civilian clothing; the last on a baseball diamond, standing near the bench of the Chicago American Giants. A fourth snapshot pictures a woman we believe to be Foster's wife standing outside a pharmacy with a broadside advertising an upcoming Homestead Grays game in the window. All are 3.5x5.5".

    8) An invitation to Rube Foster's 1908 wedding, the only example known. Unfolds to approximate dimensions of 13x3.5".

    9) A December 1930 photograph taken of Rube Foster's grave immediately after his burial, the site festooned with flowers, and the snowy ground showing the turned dirt. 8x10".

    10) An extraordinary Negro National League ledger covering years between 1917 and 1924, with elegantly handwritten day-by-day gate receipts for such teams as ABC's of Indianapolis, Bacharach Giants, Birmingham Black Barons, Cuban Stars, Chicago Giants, Columbus Buckeyes, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Stars, Daytona Marcos, Hilldale BBC, Kansas City Monarchs, Keystones of Pittsburgh, Milwaukee Bears, Memphis Red Sox, Pittsburgh Giants, St. Louis Giants, St. Louis Stars, Tate's Stars of Cleveland, Toledo Tigers. This is certainly the most significant period research volume of the Negro Leagues to surface. We are not certain of the author of the handwriting, but we do not believe it is Foster's, though the book was unquestionably created for him in his role as President of the Negro National League. The book is several hundred pages in length, with over one hundred fully handwritten pages.

    The balance of the collection dates to the years after Foster's passing, with a large quantity of material bearing no relation to him at all: family photos, his daughter's high school yearbook. Certainly there is the possibility that some hidden gem lurks in the voluminous archive, rescued by our consignors in Indiana.

    All contents of the archive exhibit expected wear from a long period of imperfect storage, but our imagery should properly convey that all remain well within acceptable display parameters.


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    Auction Dates
    August, 2016
    27th-28th Saturday-Sunday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 5
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