A masterpiece from The Big Train's sole World Championship season1924 Walter Johnson Statue by Ulric Dunbar. Two masters of their respective crafts collide here to create one of the most physically arresting relics we've had the good fortune to present. The subject requires no introduction, the twentieth century's most prolific winner, captured during the sole World Championship season for both Johnson and the Washington Senators team he epitomized. The sculptor, Ulric Dunbar, was the most respected artisan of his craft in our nation's capital, famous for his "death masks" of Washington, DC elite and the bust of Vice President Martin Van Buren on display in the Senate Chamber gallery.
But this medal-winner at the famous 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago is today best remembered for the spectacular creation presented here, a relic that is believed to be one of only two survivors of a very limited original production. The creation was heralded in a September 8, 1924 article in the Washington Post, reporting, "at the conclusion of the baseball season, Johnson will pose for a statue to be made by Ulric S. J. Dunbar, one of Washington's most noted sculptors." It should be noted that Dunbar presented a Walter Johnson statue to sitting President Calvin Coolidge, and that this piece does not appear within the Calvin Coolidge Museum. The only other known example is housed at Cooperstown in the Baseball Hall of Fame, leading many to believe that the offered example once belonged to our Commander in Chief.
The nearly nineteen-inch tall (19") tan composite creation is a striking likeness of the Big Train in the deceptively casual wind-up that preceded the most fearsome fastball of the pre-war era. A splendid original photograph (included) finds Dunbar sketching Johnson in a pose effectively identical to the finished product. A second finds Johnson admiring Ulrich's work as adds the last touches.
Light crazing and a few small and inconsequential chips (confined to verso of legs) are reported in the interest of full disclosure, but our catalog imagery should convey just how strong the aesthetics remain. Professional restoration to a crack in the base is only apparent upon close inspection. A printed "Dunbar" and Johnson's facsimile signature are imprinted in the base. A striking relic with (quite possibly) Presidential pedigree for the refined collector.
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