As a follow up to the story about the Christy Mathewson Jersey that had originally sold in a REA auction in 2000. Our client had read about the jersey and its history and contacted me to help him acquire the jersey from the current owner. This done, I did more research and discovered more information that was not included in the original REA auction write up as follows or that was incorrect;
DATING; REA listed the jersey as a circa 1900-01. When studying the style of this particular jersey, all photo research showed that this shirt, with the New York spelled out on front and a front placket that came to a point, I determined, based on photographs that it was from 1905 but it turned out that the photograph I was using was attributed to 1905 is listed as the first Conlon photo of Matty taken in 1904. I had a Horner team photo taken at the beginning of the 1904 season that showed the squared off front placket but given proper attribution to the Conlon photo as having been taken in 1904 and published before the start of the 1905 season, the shirt can be accurately dated as a 1904-05 style.
History. The shirt was obtained from an original family member who owned the shirt since it was brought home by Matty and remained in a family trunk along with numerous other personal items of his some of which were also listed in the REA catalog which included matching pants, sleeve extensions and some sundry items. It was purchased by Marshall Fogel in 1993 and sold to a private California collector until sold by REA in 2000 to the current owner. (Subsequently sold) Not mentioned in the original REA write up was that there was another circa 1904 Giants home jersey of Jack Dunn. This shirt remained untouched as to the original “New York” on front while the Matty shirt had the “New York” removed. The Dunn shirt also had the pointed placket and his last season with the Giants was 1904 which added further credence to the Matty jersey dating to either 1904 or 1905.
It was stated in the letter that Matty brought home shirts after the season and gave them out in Factoryville, PA. The fact that the Dunn shirt was still in his trunk and had not been given away or stripped verifies this fact. In addition, the Dunn shirt is to small to have ever been intended to have been worn by Matty and the stripped down jersey was the correct size for Matty (6-1 and 195 lbs.) In addition , the collar has a laundry mark that resembles a small “m” that has a line above and below, much like the line under a “9” or a “6’ to determine top and bottom. This is also feasible since most shirts from that era do not have the names factory applied but are marked in laundry marker or pen for identification.
Three other examples exist of shirts brought home by a player and then stripped of their original insignia so as to be worn by said player in local home town games and exhibitions. There was an Eddie Cicotte that was obtained in California that had the “O” and the “X” removed leaving only the “S”. There is a 1908 Boston Red Sox shirt of Cy Young with the sock removed that came directly from his family and obtained in his home town as well. Then there is a Matty road jersey that did not source from the same family member as the 1904-05 and it had the “N.Y” removed with “Mathewson” written in the laundry tag. (exact history of the acquisition of this shirt not in our possession) Therefore, it is both feasible and reasonable to conclude that players brought home jerseys to wear locally and that the practice of saving a shirt that fit them and then stripping off the original insignia is documented.
Then there is the notarized family LOO that states that this 1904-05 shirt was worn and kept by Matty and/or the family. This is both feasible and reasonable for the following reasons;
1. The family had two shirts, a Jack Dunn that remained original, not stripped, and a shirt with a mark that appears to be an “m”, is the correct size, is stripped per other player examples, and it matches the 1904 Conlon photograph is it pertains to style and all letter placement with no detectable difference in the ghost image of the missing “New York” on the sample jersey and the dated photograph.
2. This was the only shirt saved by Matty and the family that matched his size requirement.
3. That the notarized family history and their relationship to Matty are both documented, feasible, and the story pertaining to this jersey would have been known by family members as recounted.
Conclusion; I can find no reason to differ from the original opinion put forth by REA in their 2000 auction catalog but can only add information as to the correct dating, the inclusion of other items obtained from the same source but not listed in the REA catalog and to wit, that the family history, size, and circumstances that surround this jersey are both feasible and reasonable and the there are no facts to the contrary that would bring doubt to the original family letter and their documents as put forth by REA in their original listing. Therefore, while our opinion does differ from the original REA opinion as to the dating of said jersey, my conclusion based on all of the supplied facts are one and the same, that this is a game worn Christy Mathewson 1904-05 Home Jersey with direct family history that can be supported through original dated photographs as to style and size.