Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    1896 Luther H. Gulick Typed Signed Letter With Basketball Content from The Mable Welton Collection - One of Only Three Known Exemplars. In a typed signed letter to Mabel Welton (the coach of the Vassar College women's basketball team) dated January 24, 1896, Basketball Hall of Famer Luther H. Gulick mentions the game advertised on the 1896 Yale University broadside also being offered in this sale.

    "Yale is to play New York I believe on April 27...I am interested in having you see a first class game, as hitherto I have felt that the game was not being played very scientifically at the women's colleges; that this was due partly that women have not have the opportunities for learning the tactics of sport which men have had."

    Signed "Luther H. Gulick" in bold 9/10 steel-tip black fountain pen. The game mentioned in this letter is the same which is referenced on the 1896 Yale broadside which is also offered in this sale. This is one of the only three known exemplars of this Hall of Famer's autograph, all of which are being offered for the first time in this sale.

    More Information: The Mable Welton Collection

    Mabel Welton & Vassar College

    An all-women's college founded in 1861, Vassar was at the forefront of pioneering achievements in women's rights and athletics, including fielding a baseball team in 1866 and opening the first gymnasium at a women's college. Mabel Welton was the coach of the 1895-96 Vassar College inaugural women's basketball team, one of the very first women's basketball teams in the country. Miss Welton was mentored by Basketball Hall of Famer Luther Gulick, who inspired James Naismith to invent the game and was instrumental in its development.

    Luther Halsey Gulick

    Widely considered the father of physical education and recreation in the United States, Basketball Hall of Famer Luther Halsey Gulick's lifetime accomplishments and contributions to sport and society are staggering.

    First, the game of basketball would probably never had been created if not for Gulick. As the superintendent of physical education at the International YMCA Training School, Gulick challenged his faculty in the summer of 1891 to create a new indoor game for students to play "that would be interesting, easy to learn, and easy to play in the winter and by artificial light." Gulick's guidelines also specified that the game should be able to be played indoors and year-round, while promoting teamwork and the development of the mind, body, and spirit.

    After two of his instructors had already tried and failed to execute his directive, and with the winter of 1891-92 rapidly approaching, Gulick specifically challenged a second-year graduate student named James Naismith with the pressing task at hand. "Naismith," said Gulick, "I want you to take the class and see what you can do with it."

    All through the basketball's infancy, Gulick continued to oversee Naismith's creation, providing valuable insights and suggestions in regard to modifications and improvements. He was also at the forefront of the game's move to the national and international levels, serving as the chairman of the Basketball Rules Organization in 1895 and the chairman of the AAU Basketball Committee from 1895-905

    During his relatively short fifty-three-year lifetime, Gulick was a founder Boy Scouts of America, the Camp Fire Girls, American Physical Education Association, Playground and Recreation Society of America, the New York Academy of Physical Education, and the New York Public School Athletic Leagues. He was also the director of physical education in the public schools of New York City, the international secretary for the physical training department of the YMCA, secretary of the American Association for the Advancement of Physical Education, a member of the 1896 and 1908 Olympic Committees, and developed the YMCA's triangle logo. Furthermore, he was a medical doctor, prolific writer, hospital consultant, high school principal, the father of six children, and an early advocate for women's sports and the improvement of the lives of women in America.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2019
    16th-17th Thursday-Friday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 876

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold on May 16, 2019 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 12 days left to consign to the 2021 August 21 - 22 Summer Platinum Night Sports Auction!

    Learn about consigning with us

    The hammer price for my Mantle card significantly exceeded my admittedly conservative estimations, and I couldn't be more pleased.
    George T.,
    Pinetop, AZ
    View More Testimonials

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search