Rare 1888-89 Baseball Tour Poster Headlines Platinum Night Sale

Heritage Auctions is gearing up for its highly anticipated Platinum Night event, which promises to offer collectors a chance to own a truly extraordinary piece of baseball history. The star of the show? A rare poster from the 1888-89 Spalding Australian Baseball Tour, a pivotal chapter in the sport’s evolution.

Considered one of the most significant artifacts in baseball history, this poster is one of only two known surviving copies. The other resides in the hallowed halls of the Baseball Hall of Fame, underscoring just how rare and historically important this piece is.

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 offered in their auctions. Its design features iconic images reminiscent of Old Judge and N284 Buchner Gold Coin cards, showcasing players who participated in the tour, including legends like Cap Anson, John Montgomery Ward, and Ned Hanlon, all of whom would later be inducted into the prestigious Baseball Hall of Fame.

The 1888-89 baseball tour was the brainchild of Albert G. Spalding, a baseball legend and successful sporting goods tycoon. Spalding organized a barnstorming tour by the Chicago White Stockings, the precursor to the modern-day Chicago Cubs, and an All America team selected by Spalding himself. This tour was intended to promote baseball globally and showcase it as America’s game.

The teams embarked on an ambitious journey that took them to various destinations around the world, including the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii), New Zealand, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Egypt, Italy, France, and England. The tour culminated with games in several Australian cities, such as Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Ballarat. This feat was an extraordinary logistical accomplishment, with Spalding investing $30,000 of his own money and even securing an endorsement from President Grover Cleveland.

The impact of this promotional endeavor cannot be overstated. It not only drew attention to the game of baseball but also solidified its reputation as America’s pastime. The tour generated significant buzz and excitement, eventually culminating in a grand banquet at Delmonico’s restaurant in New York City, held in honor of the teams upon their triumphant return.

Beyond its historical significance, the poster offers a captivating glimpse into the early professionalization of baseball and the sport’s efforts to captivate audiences worldwide. In an era where baseball was still developing and growing in popularity, this tour boldly paved the way for baseball’s global appeal and cemented its status as an iconic American sport.

At the upcoming Platinum Night sale on February 24-25, this rare 1888-89 baseball tour poster will be positioned as a key lot among the impressive lineup of nearly 2,800 items. The auction showcases a wide range of baseball memorabilia, spanning from the earliest days with Old Judge cards to the modern exploits of contemporary stars like Aaron Judge.

With an estimated value of $100,000, this poster encapsulates a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for avid collectors and baseball enthusiasts to own a tangible piece of the sport’s storied past. Its rarity, historical significance, and artistic appeal make it an undeniable centerpiece of any baseball memorabilia collection.

As the Platinum Night sale approaches, anticipation grows for this highly sought-after artifact. Collectors from around the world are eagerly waiting to see who will seize the opportunity to claim this exceptional piece of baseball history as their own.


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