Rare 1888-89 Baseball Tour Poster Stirs Excitement in Auction

Heritage Auctions’ highly anticipated Platinum Night event is generating buzz among sports enthusiasts and collectors alike with the inclusion of a rare and significant piece of baseball history: a poster from the 1888-89 Spalding Australian Baseball Tour. This artifact, one of only two known surviving posters, captures a pivotal moment in the sport’s timeline, as it showcases a barnstorming tour organized by baseball legend Albert G. Spalding following the 1888 season.

Scheduled for February 24-25, the Platinum Night Sale boasts an impressive lineup of nearly 2,800 items, ranging from vintage Old Judge cards to modern memorabilia featuring players like Aaron Judge. Amidst this treasure trove, the poster stands out as a key lot, underscoring its rarity and historical significance by being the only other copy besides the one housed in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Measuring an impressive 42 inches by 28 inches, the poster has been described by Heritage Auctions as “the most astonishing eight square feet of paper” ever featured in their auctions. It showcases images reminiscent of Old Judge and N284 Buchner Gold Coin cards, featuring prominent players who participated in the tour, including future Hall of Famers Cap Anson, John Montgomery Ward, and Ned Hanlon.

The Spalding Australian Baseball Tour was a grand endeavor aimed at promoting baseball globally. The teams embarked on a journey that took them through various destinations, including the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii), New Zealand, Ceylon, Egypt, Italy, France, and England. The tour culminated in games played in Australian cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Ballarat. It was a remarkable logistical achievement, with Spalding himself investing $30,000 of his own money and even securing an endorsement from President Grover Cleveland.

The significance of this promotional effort went well beyond the sport of baseball. It not only highlighted the appeal of the game but also showcased its status as America’s pastime. The tour garnered significant attention and upon the teams’ return, they were celebrated with a banquet at Delmonico’s restaurant in New York City.

This poster, with its historical value and unique glimpse into the early professionalization of baseball, presents a rare opportunity for collectors to own a piece of the sport’s storied past. With a pre-sale estimate of $100,000, it promises to be a highly sought-after item for collectors and baseball enthusiasts alike.

Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night Sale has become known for its ability to offer collectors an array of extraordinary items, and the inclusion of the 1888-89 Spalding Australian Baseball Tour poster further solidifies its reputation. As bidders eagerly anticipate the event, the rare artifact from baseball’s early years is sure to ignite a spirited auction and attract passionate collectors hoping to secure a piece of this rich sporting heritage.


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