Spalding Baseball World Tour promotional poster

The 1888 Spalding Baseball World Tour promotional poster sold for $200,000 (£158,000) at Heritage Auctions.

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Antiques and Estate Auctions of Berea, Ohio chose to sell its remarkable find through Dallas, Texas sporting memorabilia specialists Heritage Auctions on February 24.

The 1888 Spalding Baseball World Tour promotional poster is only the second of its type known (the other resides in the permanent collection of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown). Measuring an imposing 3ft 6in high by 2ft 4in wide, it depicts portraits of more than 20 members of a Chicago all-stars team that in 1888-89 travelled to Australia, playing a dozen games before continuing west to Sri Lanka, Egypt, Italy, France, England and Ireland.

The barnstorming tour was the idea of player turned sporting goods magnate Albert Spalding whose portrait features prominently in the upper left of the lithographed image. Collectors of 19th century trading cards will recognise many of the player poses as those which appear in the famous Old Judge series of cigarette cards.

Unrestored condition

The poster was in wholly unrestored condition with only storage folds and some light chipping to the borders to count against it. The auction house recommended this ‘miracle of survival’ would only require a professional linen backing. It was valued at ‘$100,000 upwards’ and comfortably met its reserve in pre-sale bidding. The price is a record for a baseball poster, bettering the $175,000 bid in August 2022 at Heritage for a poster of the same date promoting Old Judge Cigarette cards.