I am doing some initial work on a batting helmet that is being submitted to MEARS for evaluation. I thought it might be a good time to share some information that collectors can begin to use right away as I know there are some problematic helmets on the market that this will have an impact on. The issue at hand is using various numbers found on 1960s and early 1970s American Baseball Cap (ABC) Manufacturers labels/stickers. The numbers in question are 19063 and 3167783 and are found on the pictured examples of this sticker.
On April 30, 1963, Postmaster General John A. Gronouski announced that the ZIP Code would begin on July 1, 1963. However, it was not mandatory at first for everyone. In 1967, the Post Office required mailers of second- and third-class bulk mail to presort by ZIP Code. If you have a helmet with a zip code as part of the label, it has to be from some period after this date.
The ABC label also shows the following patent # 3167783. A search of U.S. Patent Office data shows that this patent # was issued on February 2, 1965. A helmet with this patent number on it would have to be from after this date as well. I suspect that helmets from the 1965 season may not have this style sticker given issues of using previous stocks or the time it may have take to have new labels printed up.
While I have seen examples of early ABC labels (pre-zip code) found on helmets as late as the 1970s, helmets can not be from a period that pre-dates the use of a zip code or issuance of a patent number if those numbers are found on the sticker.
What are some of the problematic helmets of concern that may be seen with this type of sticker:
Pittsburgh Pirates helmets attributed to the 1960 World Series.
New Yankees helmets attributed to the 1961 season or earlier.
A St. Louis Cardinals helmet from Stan Musial’s career.
A Boston Red Sox helmet from Ted Williams career.
A Pete Rose Rookie batting helmet from 1963.
A San Francisco Giants helmet from Willie Mays’ MVP Season of 1964.
A Los Angeles Dodgers batting helmet attributed to the World Series years of 1959 or 1963.
Regardless of what the provenance might be that comes with a batting helmet, in the end, the item “is what it is.” Of course I know that providing this information may make a helmet forger simply remove the sticker. In that case, they have removed a valuable bit of information necessary to confirm attribution to a player or event. Of course there are also other characteristics to be considered and checked, but I will address those over time as they come up.
If you happen to own a helmet that has been attributed to the late 1950s or early 1960s, you may want to check out the manufacturers sticker/label. Sad to say, but I know that some of the potentially problematic examples sited above are out there.
Another sticker you will find within ABC Batting helmets is one bearing the phrase “Pro-Celd” as a registered trade mark. This trade mark was registered on September 17 1967 (Registration number 0835520). Given the date of this registration, I would not expect to see it show up with any regularity until 1968 or 1969.
The name of our company is Memorabilia Evaluation and Research Services. Research involves far more than looking through Getty, Corbis and old auction catalogs. It involves the active and introspective role of both asking questions and looking for answers as part of doing an evaluation. Much has been said in recent months about the value of a Letter of Authenticity or Letter of Opinion. When they are written and produced without research that can be communicated in an objective manner, then I would agree they are not worth the paper they are written on. When the opinion provides the collector with information they can use to objectively evaluate the item, as in the case with patent #s and trademark registration dates, then that is something I feel has both merit and value.
Hopefully all of this has been of some help to you and may be information you had not thought about. The use of patent #s and registered trademarks can be found on other items so it has utility beyond that of batting helmets.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article, please feel to drop me a line at MEARS Auth, LLC1@aol.com.