Simultaneously a vestige of the National Pastime’s origins, a revered sporting goods company and the rustic stages of what has long been America’s most bustling metropolis, this 1875 sterling silver trophy presentation baseball is among the earliest known artifacts from an athletic institution that thrives to this very day.
Crafted by New York’s Peck & Snyder Sporting Goods Co., the ornate relic was awarded to a New York U.S. Post Office branch for its triumphs not on the route, but on the baseball diamond, where everyone seemed to be competing as America had discovered a new activity. While baseball was a new found diversion, so was the Peck & Snyder company. Founded by Andrew Peck and Irving Snyder in the 1860s, the company produced what is considered to be the first-ever baseball card, an 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings team card issued for promotional purposes. Flourishing in the production and sale of sporting goods, Peck & Snyder hawked everything from baseball equipment to tennis shoes, roller skates, knives and rifles.
Approximately the size of a regulation baseball at just over 9” in circumference, the offered prize is perhaps ostentatious by today’s standards, yet apropos for its era. With engraved seams and an elegant cursive legend, the sphere reads: “Presented by M.J. Smith to the winning nine of the Carrier’s Dept. N.Y.P.O. at their picnic held at Jones’ Wood July 1st 1875.” The hardball heirloom is as breathtaking today as it was upon its presentation 139 years ago on a section of a 132-acre Manhattan farmland that has since developed into the present-day Upper East Side. Expected age-induced oxidation has minimally affected portions of the surface and a slight indentation appears on the engraved legend. Yet the overall aesthetic is stunning and the engraved characters (amazingly) show no wear and remain complete and legible. Added appeal is inherent with the original leather-covered container with a satin cushion (bearing the Peck & Snyder name) within the hinged cover and two original clasps intact. In summary: this is an amazing, one-of-a-kind relic whose features and condition prompt superlatives.