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Smithsonian Baseball: Inside the World's Finest Private Collectionsby Stephen Wong
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Readers who want to see Mickey Mantle's uniform from the 1968 season, Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball from 1998, or a Satchel Paige autographed glove will find them among scores of treasures in this oversized book, vividly illustrated with color photographs of the most exceptional private baseball memorabilia collections, many of which contain items that have not been seen in public for decades. More than simple eye candy for the baseball fetishist, the book includes thoughtful essays that delve into collectors' backgrounds, introducing the reader to an array of people, their quirks and their motivations for collecting. Some of the collectors are well known: one chapter is devoted to the collection of Todd McFarlane, creator of the comic book character Spawn; another displays the baseball folk art collection of Penny Marshall-Laverne of Laverne and Shirley and the director of the baseball movie, A League of Their Own. Others are more ordinary people who have been blessed with the dedication and means to take their passion for baseball to an extraordinary level. Wong, a lawyer and baseball historian, places the artifacts in social and historic context as he conveys the arcane but captivating knowledge gathered by these collectors, who are authorities on obscure details like the model numbers of bats. This book is fine companion for baseball enthusiasts looking for something to tide them over during those long winter days between the World Series and spring training." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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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