Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rare Tiffany Sterling Silver Football Themed Flask, Manufactured 1887 - 1888

A finely etched sterling silver flask measuring 5 ½ x 3 ½+, marked Tiffany.

We know from finding the actual drawings that were used to make this piece that it would have been made contemporary to these illustrations, in the 1887-1888 time period.  

From the October 1887 article “The American Game of Foot-Ball”, pgs 888-898, written by Alexander Johnston,  The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, volume XXXlV, May 1887 to October 1887 we found the illustrations by Irving R Wiles that were used unchanged by Tiffany in the etching of this flask. The illustrations were used individually and as composites. One sees from the first illustration titled “A Foul Tackle, Low” the etching on the flask is the same, down to the lines and shading in the illustration.  The second illustration is from ‘Breaking Through the Rush Line” and combines one portion of the illustration with the previous work, again, identical down to the shading. Persistence in our researching proved fruitful in finding this. Other players etched onto the flask are taken from the article illustrations as well.

                                                      A Foul Tackle, Low

Breaking Through the Rush Line

The hallmarks read “2811M1201”, “Sterling” and “2 Gills”

Tiffany & Company Archives: Silver manufacturing Ledger, Entry 2811. 

Photo Copyright Tiffany & Co. Archives 2014 (Not to be published or reproduced without prior permission. No permission for commercial use will be granted except by written license agreement.)

Tiffany & Company Archives: Hollowware Blueprint, Liquor Bottle, 2811, Drawer E13-7 

Photo Copyright Tiffany & Co. Archives 2014 (Not to be published or reproduced without prior permission. No permission for commercial use will be granted except by written license agreement.)

No other ledgers are known that list this order number. Different design and decoration options were offered for this flask; eleven different versions are listed in the ledger. Costs of manufacture (not sale cost) ranged from $15.00 for a nine ounce “Magic Top” bottle to $53.00 for one with hammered and mounted decoration on both sides.

Our research shows that these commissioned pieces with football scenes are exceedingly rare - we know of only three example in total. 

As with many research projects, particularly with those that may take a year or more to get to the point of publication, there is someone that went above and beyond to assist in these efforts and without whom the project would not be possible. Our sincere thanks go out in this instance to Amy C. McHugh, a research coordinator at the Tiffany archives who happily and patiently answered our many questions and was able to supply us with information that would not have been available elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Princeton - Yale 1890 Football Trade Cards


These “series” type trade cards are comic in nature, quite the norm for the period. Specific to the Yale - Princeton football game of 1890 these wonderful and scarce lithographic cards are the only such examples known. Excuse my enthusiasm, but, they’re just fantastic.

(One can draw a comparison of these cards in age and style to the 1880 H804-8 “Sporting Life Publishing Company” set, depicting comical baseball scenes).

These cards picture caricatures of Edgar Poe of Princeton (his nickname during the period was Peter), John “Josh” Hartwell of Yale, Thomas Lee “Bum” McClung of Yale, and Sheppard Homans of Princeton. Two of the cards are not specific to players. 

McClung played for Yale 1889, 90, 91 was an All-American in 1890 and 91 and captained the team in 1891.

John Hartwell played for Yale in 1889, 90, 91 and was All-American in 1891. He coached Yale in 1895.

Sheppard Homans played for Princeton 1889, 90, 91 and was All-American in 1890 and 91.

Edgar Allan Poe played for Princeton in 1888, 89, 90 and was captain in 1889 and 90.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gallaudet College Class Team Mascot 1896

Gallaudet Class of '99 Champions, taken in 1896.

The use of African American mascots in sports was not altogether uncommon in the 1890s.
Most mascots may have been utilized as good luck charms, but it appears that black mascots were often used in order to cause distraction to the opposing teams and were often dressed in a gaudy or demeaning fashion. The above photo being one such bold example.
African American mascots were not confined to a particular sport, and examples existed in most sports including baseball, cycling, football, and even ice polo. This also was not confined to southern or middle America. The fact that the roller polo (immediate predecessor to ice polo) (similar to ice hockey but played with a ball, shorter sticks and had no off-sides rules) team from Waltham, Massachusetts made use of a “colored mascot” was a surprise to us during our research, but as it turned out, should not have been (Boston Globe, January 31, 1893). Photographic examples of African American mascots are very rare (they are primarily baseball related), but do exist.

                                              1896 Gallaudet Varsity Football Team

Another example of the use of unusual mascots is the below Post Card showing midget “Stubb Dickson” with the Unionville Grade School. Number eleven is identified as Dick McClellan.