Description1866 Excelsior vs. National of Albany Trophy Baseball. Just a year after General Lee surrendered his Confederate troops to bring a close to the American Civil War, the presented baseball was utilized and then memorialized to celebrate a victory during the absolute infancy of organized baseball. The victor in the contest was Excelsior of Brooklyn, one of the founding members of the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP), the first organized baseball league. The game was played at the Capitoline Base Ball Grounds, located between Nostrand Avenue and Marcy Avenue in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, where Excelsior battered National of Albany by a tally of forty-eight runs to twenty-eight on August 17, 1866.
Understanding that ancient trophy baseballs have in recent years been fraudulently reproduced by unscrupulous hobbyists, Heritage submitted this baseball to the scientific laboratories of Orion Analytical, whose two-page report detailing the examination of the ball concludes all materials are proper for the period, and that no signs of "intentional distress" or contrived aging is apparent. This report will be included in the lot.
The "lemon peel" style ball today is coated in real gold leaf, in itself a strong indication of the ball's advanced age, as none of the falsified trophy balls were so painstakingly or expensively crafted. Elegantly painted on one of the panels in bold black lettering is found, "Excelsior 48, National of Albany 28, Aug. 17th, 66." Several artistic fluorishes decorate the edges. A degree of expected wear from the better part of a century and a half is evident, but our catalog photography should accurately indicate that the piece still presents marvelously. Both literally and figuratively, the ball is a genuine treasure of the earliest game, as worthy of a position in the Baseball Hall of Fame or Smithsonian Museum as in the finest of private collections.
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