Rare 1888-89 Baseball Tour Poster Hits the Auction Block

Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night event is gearing up to present an extraordinary piece of baseball history: an original poster from the 1888-89 Spalding Australian Baseball Tour. This rare artifact, one of only two known surviving posters, holds immense historical significance as it showcases a barnstorming tour led by baseball legend Albert G. Spalding. The tour featured games between the Chicago White Stockings and an All America team personally composed by Spalding following the 1888 season.

The upcoming auction, scheduled for February 24-25, will highlight this poster as one of the key lots among its nearly 2,800 items. From the era of Old Judge cards to the modern exploits of players like Aaron Judge, Heritage Auctions promises a diverse range of items for collectors. The fact that the other known copy of this poster resides in the Baseball Hall of Fame serves as a testament to its rarity and historical value.

The poster itself measures an impressive 42 inches by 28 inches and is being hailed by Heritage Auctions as “the most astonishing eight square feet of paper” ever to be offered in their auctions. It features images reminiscent of the iconic Old Judge and N284 Buchner Gold Coin cards, displaying the 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 groundbreaking venture envisioned by Albert G. Spalding to promote baseball globally. Taking their teams through various countries and territories, including the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii), New Zealand, Ceylon, Egypt, Italy, France, and England, the tour aimed to showcase America’s national pastime to a worldwide audience. To ensure the success of this massive undertaking, Spalding invested a staggering $30,000 of his own money and even secured an endorsement from President Grover Cleveland.

The tour not only showcased the popularity of baseball but also solidified its status as America’s game. It garnered significant attention from fans and media alike, culminating in a grand celebratory banquet at Delmonico’s restaurant in New York City upon the teams’ return.

Beyond its historical value, the poster offers a glimpse into the early professionalization of baseball and its ambitious efforts to reach a global audience. With a pre-sale estimate of $100,000, this rare artifact represents a unique opportunity for collectors to own a piece of the sport’s storied past.

As the date of the Platinum Night auction approaches, anticipation grows among baseball enthusiasts and collectors alike. The opportunity to own such a rare and significant piece of baseball history is truly unparalleled. The auction serves as a reminder of the immense reach and cultural impact that a game played with a bat and ball can have, capturing the spirit of a bygone era and honoring the pioneers of the sport.

In conclusion, the upcoming Heritage Auctions Platinum Night sale will proudly showcase an original 1888-89 Spalding Australian Baseball Tour poster, a testament to baseball’s global appeal and its enduring place in history. This rare artifact will undoubtedly capture the attention of collectors and enthusiasts, signifying that the spirit of the game continues to captivate audiences to this day.


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