Recently Chris Ivy of Heritage Galleries submitted this circa 1962-64 Wilt Chamberlain San Francisco Warriors jersey for evaluation. With the challenges presented, we were excited and anxious to examine this vintage jersey purported to be worn by the “Stilt.”
Before rendering our final opinion, there were obstacles that had to be overcome and questions to be answered. They included:
1. With the absence of a player’s name on reverse or team sewn player name identifier, could this jersey be attributed to Wilt Chamberlain?
2. With the absence of a year tag, could this jersey be pinpointed to Chamberlain’s time with the Warriors during the years of 1962-1964?
3. Could the style be attributed to Wilt’s time in San Francisco?
First, we began to compile our data using our “Jersey Grading and Authenticating Official Worksheet.” This serves as our guide to insure that we examine each jersey using the same methods and steps in a consistent manner. The worksheet is broken down in 4 main evaluation headings, which include:
Jersey Physical Description
Team Lettering & Numbering
Physical Description of Jersey Style and Numbering
By a visual examination and comparing the jersey to photos provided by www.nbareference.com, we could determine that the white base color jersey with two-color shadow block font “WARRIORS” & “13” was issued for home use. The material was standard dureen, which was found on many NBA jerseys from the 1960s. Tri-color trim was found on the neck and outer sleeve openings. This style was first issued during the 1962-63 season and last issued for the 1965-66 season. These finding confirmed the jersey as being the correct style for Wilt Chamberlain’s time in San Francisco.
To prove that the jersey was issued during the time period of 1962-1965 and in lieu of the missing year tag, we first checked the style of jersey worn during the 1961-62 season to eliminate this time period as a possibility. Although the Warriors were in existence during 1961-62, they were known as the Philadelphia Warriors. Therefore, their jerseys were manufactured with “PHILA” on the front. This can be seen in the famous photo of Wilt Chamberlain during his 100-point game played on 3/2/62. His jersey clearly spells out “PHILA,” thus eliminating 1961-62 as a year for this jersey. During the 1962-63 season, the team moved to San Francisco. Photos found on the Golden State Warriors website or www.nbareference.com show examples of the jerseys from the 1962-65 seasons with “SAN FRANCISCO” on front matching the same style as the jersey being examined for Heritage.
We also had to determine if only Wilt Chamberlain wore #13 during the style period of 1962-65. According to www.nbareference.com, #13 was issued by the Warriors from 1962-1965.
1962-63 #13 Issued to Wilt Chamberlain
1963-64 #13 Issued to Wilt Chamberlain
1964-65 #13 Issued to Wilt Chamberlain
1965-66 #13 Not issued by the Warriors
#13 was issued again for the 1966-67 season, but the Warriors had changed their style during the 1966 season. Therefore, #13 in this examined style (1962-65) could only have been issued and worn by Wilt Chamberlain.
Finally, the sewing was done in a professional manner with tight zigzag patterns used to anchor the lettering and numbering.
The jersey was examined for manufacturer, player I.D., year, and size tagging.
The examination showed that the manufacturers tag was missing. No signs of player I.D. or year tags were present. This was not a point of concern, as most NBA jerseys from the period were issued without player I.D. or year tags. The size tag 44 was present. It was issued as a flag tag in the collar and it had a rusted staple holding it in place. No extra length tag was applied, but the jersey did have extra length that would have been needed for a Wilt Chamberlain jersey. With the exclusion of a manufacturers or year tag, style and numbering was used to determine year of issue.
Team Lettering & Numbering
In accordance with the 1962-1965 San Francisco Warriors style, “SAN FRANCISCO” (gold on blue) appears in two-color shadow block lettering measuring 3” high on the front of the jersey.
Wilt Chamberlain’s uniform #13 appears on both front and back. The numbering matches the “SAN FRANCISCO” lettering in style. The #13 (gold on blue) two-color shadow block measuring 8” high on the reverse was fabricated from a tackle twill material. The front #13 (gold on blue) two-color shadow block measuring 4 1/8” high was fabricated from the same tackle twill material. All of the lettering and numbering was original with no evidence of changes or tampering.
The #13 was a very important factor as it confirmed two points for positive identification:
1. The #13 issued on the first version of the Warriors jersey was exclusive to Wilt Chamberlain’s time with the team. For the 1966-67 Warriors season, #13 was issued, but for the new style of jersey and not the style that was used during Chamberlain’s career with the Warriors.
2. The first style with #13 was only issued during 1962-65, thus establishing a year issued time frame, which was needed due to the lack of year tag.
Examination of the wear showed amounts appropriate for a NBA player. The fabric exhibited signs of softening or breakdown that occurs from repeated use and industrial washings. All use appeared legitimate with no signs of fabrication. While examining the jersey turned inside out, both the lettering and numbering exhibited signs of strong puckering. Puckering is a very desirable effect found on jersey bearing heavy wear and repeated washings.
Visual inspection was utilized to conduct imagery analysis. The actual jersey and worksheet data was compared to a full-length action shot of Chamberlain wearing the same style home “SAN FRANCISCO” uniform. Although the quality of the photo could not create an exact “photo match,” a term often misused in the industry, we were able to note some visual aspects supporting the jersey.
1. Match of the “SAN FRANCISCO” font style, approximate size, placement, and color.
2. Match of the tri color neck and outer arm trim.
3. The photo depicted similar placement of the #13 as it aligned with the bottom of the lettering of “SAN FRANCISCO.” The #1 aligns directly under the “F” and the #3 sits directly under the “ANC.”
4. The measured size is supported by visual observation of the jersey in the photograph. Measurements showed the lettering of “SAN FRANCISCO” to be 3” in height. The front number 13 measures at 4 1/8.” Therefore, “SAN FRANCISCO” should be approximately 75% the size of the #13. Visual examination of the photo confirms the measured recorded size is appropriate.
A handwritten note, dated 2/24/92 was included with the jersey and photo. It read, “As the ball boy & equipment manager for the San Francisco Warriors, I recall that Wilt Chamberlain removed the MFG tags (due to a neck irritation) on his jerseys.”
Remember, any provenance or letter of authenticity does not make an item authentic, but can help to support the facts. The accompanying letter from the equipment manager did not serve as the primary means by which to authenticate the jersey, but it did offer an explanation as to why the manufactures tag was missing. After examination, I determined this jersey to be a game worn Wilt Chamberlain San Francisco Warriors home jersey. Evaluation of the style, the #13, the size and the materials were all carefully examined to determine authenticity in order to overcome the issue of the lack of manufacturer and year tags.