While we where all told never to run with scissors, I for one am glad at least that collectors in years past did not let this edict from Mom deter them from using these tools of destruction to create some invaluable artifacts. I am referring to Baseball Scrapbooks. While it makes little sense to us today with the mentality that permeates the hobby to “slab” everything and preserve “MINT” condition, vintage scrapbooks represent a MINT in and of themselves as they are frequently both the source and keeper of invaluable information.
They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and I am always amazed at what they contain. Sometimes the theme is easy to identify:
News Paper Clippings from Joe Dimaggio’s 56 Game Hitting Streak
Team Scrapbooks with baseball cards, box scores and press highlights
In some cases, the work devoted to producing them makes them more “eclectic baseball art” than mere paper archives. At the opposite end of the spectrum you will find makeshift bindings filled with pages that seem to lack any sort of central theme. The thing is, they meant something to someone at some point in time and they mean something to me both as a collector and researcher today.
Sad to say, I never was a scrap-booker “back in the day.” I did keep a number of front-page sections from both the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Post from the Big Red Machine era. The first scrapbook I obtained was given to me by a friend of my father’s named Art Malone. Mr. Malone had grown up following the Reds Championship teams just like me, only his Big Red Machine was that of the 1937-1940 era. The scrapbook he gave me followed the Reds during these years with a special focus on the World Series for 1939 and 1940. I have wonderful articles and pictures of the Yankees from the 1939 season to include some great stuff on Gehrig. The sleeper in all this, and something most people don’t think about when considering scrapbooks, is they frequently contain personal and original images that the fan might have taken of the players during his “cut and paste period” (for you younger readers, this is not a “right click mouse function” but actually involves scissors and glue.)
Some of the original photos I have in this offering are:
Other “sleeper” items I have come across in the various scrapbooks I have picked up along the way have included team stadium photo give-aways, baseball cards, and a vintage 1939 Baseball Centennial Patch. For those who know what they are doing and are careful, items such as these can be removed with minimal damage. Since I don’t know what I’m doing and remain a purists at heart, I have left mine alone. In other cases, I have asked the person who is selling the scrapbook if they have any similar items. One such request produced a half dozen copies of Baseball Magazine from 1940-1944 that where spared the chopping block. Just goes to show the old adage pays off…It never hurts to ask.
So far I have only talked about the “collectablity” of these items. While this should not be overlooked or dismissed, they also serve as valuable and affordable historic references as well. Consider that many of the photos that may be included, while not original wire photos, are in fact the same image. This means that you can build a very affordable sampling of images that will enhance your ability to (if you where thinking of the phrase “photo match”…do 25 pushups!) imagery analysis.
One of my favorite photos involves the Brooklyn Dodgers standing around the batting. All Dem Bums are there: Jackie, Pee Wee, Campy, The Duke, Gil Hodges, The Reading Rifle, etc… The thing to notice is that the font on Gil Hodges’ numerals is vastly different from the rest of the players. In addition, the scroll of the “S” in DODGERS comes back through the letter “S” versus remaining on the outer edge. These characteristics are more commonly associated with the Wilson jerseys from this period as opposed to MacGregor or Rawlings. A wonderful example of this comparative style can be found of Roy Campanella in Hunts Auction from August 2004 (Lot # 867, page 193.) If you own this shirt, show those “font naysayer’s” the scrapbook picture.
The other thing that this permits you to have access to is a large number of photos that you can make copies of and draw on or annotate as you do (if you’re thinking “photo match”…drop and give me 50) imagery analysis. Additionally, many of these photographs from the 1950s are done in wonderful color and clarity. Notice the detail of how Ewell “The Whip” Blackwell marked is glove on the wrist strap with a simple EB.
While I hate to throw this out there as I will now be competing with you for these, E-Bay is a great source for these wonderful treasure troves. Some of my favorite searches include using combinations of these words:
Cut baseball photo pictures
Of course it goes without saying, that if you collect football, basketball or hockey, any and all of this would probably hold true as well. I can’t imagine that these products don’t also exist in some form for the collegiate level as well.
Regardless of what you collect, carve out some time and money to look for and add these cut and clipped treasures to your collection. I have and am glad that someone did not let mom scare them away from scissors…or at least not her good scissors.