I have been asked about the comments of the use of a UV or “Black Light” in looking at fabrics. The questions stem from a letter I wrote on a 1946-1947 Ted Williams jersey in the current Grey Flannel Auction. Troy has posted the text of my letter on our Forum Board. Below is a portion of that letter that deals with the use of the UV light:


In addition to these issues, there appears to be problems with the fabric for both the swatch and chain stitching of “Williams” in terms of being from the same period as the rest of the jersey. Although the application appears correct in that it sewn below the collar fold (see page 173 of “The Chronicle of Baseball: A Century of Major League Action” by John Mehno), you will see a picture of Hal Wagner from the back in the 1946 World Series. The distinct rectangular shape of the sewing outline of the player identification is readily apparent.

When you examine the “Williams” under UV light, you notice that it gives off a strong florescent glow. This effect can be caused by detergent, but most often is a sign of a more modern fabric that contains synthetic fibers or materials. This does not appear to have been caused by detergent as it appears isolated to the felt swatch and chain stitching. For comparison, I also examined and photographed the felt swatches and chain stitching on the following jerseys that are in my on-hand collection of common period exemplars:

1946 NY Giants Home Jersey (46-1)

1946 Chicago Cubs Home Jersey (Robert Chipman)

1950 Boston Braves Road Jersey (Southworth Mgr)

1954 Chicago White Sox Home Jersey (1954)

1958 Boston Red Sox Home Jersey (58)

1960 Cleveland Indians Home Jersey (1960)

1969 Seattle Pilots Road Jersey (Morris 44)

1970 California Angles Road Jersey (Koning)

To me this suggests that the swatch was likely manufactured (wool blend with synthetic fibers) and applied after the period of the jersey and very possibly after Ted Williams’ career ended in 1960.


What you will see is that although portions of the other examples do reflect light or appear bright, they do not “fluoresce” like the fabrics in the Williams jersey. The thread used to affix the felt swatches in the 1969 Seattle Pilots Road Jersey (Morris 44) and the 1970 California Angles Road Jersey (Koning) do fluoresce. This is not uncommon for threads from this later period and can be seen in the thread used for the construction of the body of these jerseys as well. A portion of the 1958 McAullife tag also gives off a strong glow, but I suspect this is a result of the partial absorption of some chemical, likely in a detergent as it only effects a portion of the material.

This examination using UV light was not the sole basis for my opinion as can be seen the full letter on our board. I felt it would useful to show folks what I was referring to and using the Current News section makes the image easier to find and refer to at a later date.