EXTREMELY FINE. A SUPERB STRIKE OF THE FAMOUS BATS, BASEBALL AND DIAMONDS FANCY CANCELLATION OF WATERBURY CONNECTICUT. A MAGNIFICENT COVER, AND ONE OF THE EARLIEST BASEBALL-RELATED DESIGNS. ONLY SIX COVERS ARE KNOWN.
The cancellation was created by postmaster John W. Hill to commemorate the Waterbury Excelsior's victory over the Naugatuck Valley Nine, on July 24, 1867. In his comprehensive census of Waterbury cancels, William T. Crowe records six covers, used between Sep. 2 and 10, 1867.
According to The Baseball Archive available at http://baseball1.com: "the exact origins of baseball are unknown. Most historians agree that it is based on the English game of rounders. It began to become quite popular in this country in the early 19th century, and many sources report the growing popularity of a game called 'townball', 'base', or 'baseball'. Throughout the early part of that century, small towns formed teams, and baseball clubs were formed in larger cities. In 1845, Alexander Cartwright wanted to formalize a list of rules by which all teams could play. Much of that original code is still in place today. Although popular legend says that the game was invented by Abner Doubleday, baseball's true father was Cartwright. The first recorded baseball contest took place a year later, in 1846. Cartwright's Knickerbockers lost to the New York Baseball Club in a game at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey. These amateur games became more frequent and more popular. In 1857, a convention of amateur teams was called to discuss rules and other issues. Twenty five teams from the northeast sent delegates. The following year, they formed the National Association of Base Ball Players, the first organized baseball league. In its first year of operation, the league supported itself by occasionally charging fans for admission. The future looked very bright."
"The early 1860s, however were a time of great turmoil in the United States. In those years of the Civil War, the number of baseball clubs dropped dramatically, but interest in baseball was carried to other parts of the country by Union soldiers, and when the war ended there were more people playing baseball than ever before. The league's annual convention in 1868 drew delegates from over 100 clubs. As the league grew, so did the expenses of playing. Charging admission to games started to become more common, and teams often had to seek out donations or sponsors to make trips. In order for teams to get the financial support they needed, winning became very important. Although the league was supposed to be comprised of amateurs, many players were secretly paid. Some were given jobs by sponsors, and some were secretly paid a salary just for playing. In 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings decided to become a completely professional team. Brothers Harry and George Wright recruited the best players from around the country, and beat all comers. The Cincinnati team won sixty-five games and lost none. The idea of paid players quickly caught on. Some wanted baseball to remain an amateur endeavor, but there was no way they could compete with the professional teams. The amateur teams began to fade away as the best players became professionals. In 1871, the National Association became the first professional baseball league."
EXTREMELY FINE STRIKE OF THE MAN WEARING HAT FANCY CANCELLATION OF WATERBURY CONNECTICUT. ONLY TWO COVERS ARE RECORDED.
William T. Crowe records only two covers. Both were used on Apr. 30, 1866. The other is in a private collection in Europe and is not likely to be offered to the market for some time.
EXTREMELY FINE. A SUPERB STRIKE OF THE WATERBURY SOLDIER'S HEAD FANCY CANCEL. ONLY THREE COVERS ARE RECORDED.
William T. Crowe records three covers used between Feb. 2 and Feb. 13, 1866. The cover offered here was used on the latest known date. Another of the three is in a private collection in Europe and is unlikely to be offered to the market for some time.
Ex Matthies, Grunin and Sheriff. With 1980 P.F. certificate.
VERY FINE AND VERY RARE. ONLY NINE COVERS WITH THE WATERBURY "AJ" SKULL & CROSSBONES ON TOMBSTONE FANCY CANCEL ARE RECORDED. A GREAT RARITY.
The design refers to the end of Andrew Johnson's term as president, on March 4, 1869. William T. Crowe records nine covers, used between Mar. 26 and Apr. 3, 1869.
Ex Matthies and Houser. With 1990 P.F. certificate.
EXTREMELY FINE STRIKE OF THE WATERBURY SKULL & CROSSBONES FANCY CANCEL. ONE OF ONLY ELEVEN COVERS RECORDED.
William T. Crowe records eleven covers with this cancel, used between Apr. 13 and Apr. 18, 1866. Ex Sampson.
EXTREMELY FINE STRIKE OF THE RARE DOG'S HEAD WATERBURY FANCY CANCELLATION. ONLY SEVEN COVERS ARE KNOWN.
William T. Crowe records seven covers, used between Jan. 9 and Jan. 23, 1866. Ex Jackson. Signed Sloane. With 1986 P.F. certificate
EXTREMELY FINE STRIKE. ONLY FIVE EXAMPLES OF THIS LEFT-HANDED MUG ON COVER ARE RECORDED.
William T. Crowe records five covers, each with Sept. 16, 1867 datestamp.