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    1839 Alexander Cartwright Signed Book, PSA/DNA Mint 9--Earliest Known Cartwright Autograph! It took a 1953 Act of Congress to set the record straight. Though the construction of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown has served to legitimize the upstate New York village as the ancestral home of our National Pastime, the tales of Civil War hero Abner Doubleday's invention of the sport there in Elihu Phinney's cow pasture have been thoroughly (and officially) debunked. Scholars are now all but universally linked in their consensus that authorship belongs to the man whose signature appears on the presented relic, Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr.

    Often referred to as "The Father of Modern Baseball," words that appear as the subheader on his Hall of Fame plaque, Cartwright is credited for formalizing many of the fundamental rules of the sport and for forming the first organized team, the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City. However, in fairness, Cartwright's creation owes considerable credit to the English sport of rounders, most notably the three-strikes policy, the concept of foul territory, and the diamond construction of the infield.

    The inspiration for this geometrical determination? It would be impossible to say for certain, but there are a number of scholars who point to the gold embossed imprint on the brown leather boards of this volume as the genesis. First published in 1733 and comprised of a dialogue between father and son regarding the various members of a social club, this volume of "The Club" provides the distinctive diamond design on both front and back cover, a coincidence that is difficult to discount. Many likewise draw parallels between the social club discussed in the text and the formation of the Knickerbocker Club that organized and won the first baseball contest ever waged.

    It is mere happenstance that Cartwright's flawlessly bold black fountain pen ink signature on the book's opening page is underscored by the year of "1839," the date that remains imprinted on the sport's birth certificate despite the faulty Doubleday parentage from which it derives. Cartwright adds his home city to the notation, and his personal bookplate to the inside front cover. Two pages later we find a gift inscription dating to 1966 from "Ruth Joy Cartwright," providing evidence that the volume remained within the Cartwright family for nearly thirteen decades.

    We are left with a relic that is unequalled in significance for those collectors interested in the earliest archaeology of our National Pastime. While the degree to which the book inspired Cartwright in his development of the sport is a point of debate, the volume's status as home to the earliest known Cartwright signature--penned at age nineteen, and a full seven years before the Grand Match at Hoboken's Elysian Fields--is certain. The lengthy Cartwright family ownership established by the 1966 notation likewise assures that the book remained with Cartwright throughout his life, from his leadership of the Knickerbockers, on to his westward journey to the gold fields of California, and finally to the islands of Hawaii where he would pass away at age seventy-two in 1892.

    Book measures 4.25x6.5" and exhibits moderate wear to the covers and some scattered foxing and toning to interior pages. Binding remains tight and firm. Excellent condition overall. Full Grading LOA from PSA/DNA, Mint 9.

    Auction Info

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