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    Extraordinary relic is the earliest basketball trophy known!

    1897-98 National Basket Ball League of the Hudson River Championship Trophy. "In 1895 I assisted in organizing the National Guard Basketball League of the Hudson River, composed of National Guard Teams of Yonkers, Newburg, Po'Keepsie, Kingston, Hudson and Catskills," reads the typed transcript of an interview with John Alfred Ryer, original owner of the remarkable early relic presented here. "I was elected President of the League for the seaons of 1896-97 and 1897-98. The Yonkers Team won the Championship both seasons. The League was discontinued at the outbreak of the Spanish Amer War."

    Though the National Basketball League, the sport's first professional league, marks the date of its inaugural season as 1898-99, there is little question but that Ryer was instrumental in its genesis. Aside from the shared nomenclature, the geography of the "official" NBL, balanced between New Jersey and Pennsylvania, assures influence by this Hudson River organization.

    The magnificent silver cup is centered between a pair of stag horn handles, and engraved with the historic text, "Championship National Basket Ball League of the Hudson River, 1897-98 Won by 4th Sep. Co. Team." A spectacular image of early game action dominates obverse. Base is stamped with maker's marks and "Sterling Patented" designation. Height is five inches, width (inclusive of handles) is ten inches. A few small dents are evident, as is typical tarnishing, but the aesthetics remain very strong, and certainly any minor condition concerns must be forgiven in light of the tremendous historical importance.

    Accompanying the trophy is a cabinet photograph of the victorious team shot during the 1896-97 season with the team and all players identified in vintage handwritten text at the lower mount. The trophy's presentee John A. Ryer is identified as the man seated at center with the ancient basketball at his feet. Also here is a modern copy of another team photograph, likewise identifying all players including Ryer. Finally, we have a notarized letter of provenance from Ryer's daughter attesting that her father gave the trophy to her many years ago. Documentation as noted in lot copy.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2014
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 689

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