To a collector, there is no joy parallel to finding that elusive home-run ball, or a jersey worn by a legendary player. Smithsonian Baseball: Inside the World’s Finest Private Collections celebrates the abiding passion for our national pastime, as witnessed by the dedication of the sport’s most devoted collectors.
The first book of its kind, Smithsonian Baseball features revealing stories and lavish photography highlighting 21 of the best private collections of baseball memorabilia in existence. From a rare copy of the first written rules of the game (1848) to Mark McGwire’s record-shattering home-run ball (1998), these impressive collections span baseball’s entire history. Some of the game’s most historically significant artifacts are part of these private collections, yet most have never before been seen by the public. Marvel at the memorabilia as you read about the historical background of the objects and get to know each collector’s passions and motivations. Some of the collections are all-encompassing; others focus on a specific era or type of memorabilia — game-used bats, for example, or folk art, or celluloid pin-back buttons. One collection features only relics and memorabilia from the grand old ballparks of the past; another comprises items from overseas exhibition tours of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of the most valuable vintage photographs and advertising displays as well as the most sought-after baseball cards are in these collections, including the famous T206 Honus Wagner, the highest professionally graded set of 1915 Cracker Jacks, and a gem-mint condition 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. A father-daughter collecting duo has an impressive collection of World Series scorecards and programs, dating back to the inaugural series in 1903.
The book also includes seven “tips” essays. The hobby’s leading experts offer advice on collecting and authenticating artifacts, and show how to build and organize your own impressive 19th-century memorabilia or baseball card collection. Weigh the benefits of having a general collection versus a very narrow one. Find out how to store and display your collectibles. Learn to distinguish between an original first-generation photograph versus a wire photo, a vintage jersey worn at home games as opposed to one worn on the road, a player’s game-used bat and one made for retail sale — and much, much more. It’s the perfect gift for any baseball fan, young or old, a baseball collectible in its own right.
From Publishers Weekly
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“…a magnificent album of baseball mementos–by turns, beautiful, peculiar and hilarious.” (Sports Illustrated)
About the Author
Stephen Wong, a lifelong collector of rare and historically significant artifacts, spent two and a half years researching his top-selling adult book smithsonian baseball: Inside the World’s Finest Private Collections. Wong has advised a number of the world’s top collectors and is currently lending his expertise to an upcoming exhibition at the Chicago Historical Society celebrating the glory days of Chicago Cubs and White Sox baseball in the early twentieth century. He is also an advisory director for the Museum of the City of New York’s summer 2007 exhibit “The Glory Days: New York Baseball, 1947-1957” and an honorary committee member for the city of Pittsfield and the Berkshire Museum’s “1791—Art of the Game—Pittsfield,” a two-year celebration of Pittsfield’s unique place in baseball history. A graduate of Stanford Law School, Wong is currently an executive director at Goldman Sachs. He was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and now lives in Hong Kong.
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