October 2, 2006
Recently MEARS was offered a jersey purported to be the following:
1964-65 Philadelphia 76ers Wilt Chamberlain game worn home jersey
After examining the tagging and jersey font, MEARS could not attribute that as being team issued/worn by Wilt Chamberlain during the 1964-65 time frame.
Jersey Physical Description:
Issued as: Home
Stage of Career: Player
Worn During: Regular season
Manufacturer: Wilson/Pearson supplier tag
Era/Style issued: 1963-64
Tagged on outside tail
Chest measurement: 20 ½
Torso measurement:32 ½
No year tag present
Single tackle twill
Size: 3 7/8
Placement: Front and Reverse
Single Tackle Twill
Front size: 3 7/8, back: 8 1/8
The above information was first gathered via our Jersey Grading and Authentication Official Worksheet, copyright 2005/06. Three things had to first be examined to determine attribution to Wilt Chamberlain.
1. Was Wilson/Pearson the correct manufacturer for the jersey
2. Was the style the correct to be worn by Wilt Chamberlain
3. Who wore #13 in that style jersey
Question 1. Wilson/Pearson tag
To answer the questions from part 1., we first went to the MEARS tagging database. Per the internal MEARS database, we established that Pearson did supply the Philadelphia Warriors with jerseys in 1958 and also supplied the 1963 Philadelphia 76ers. Pearson was not the manufacturer of the jersey, but served as a Philadelphia area sporting good distributor. Examples include in our database:
1. 1958-59 Paul Arizin MEARS database
2. 1963 76ers Road Bianchi MEARS database
Therefore, the Pearson tag was proper and correct for 1959-63 era Philadelphia team basketball jerseys. But, this jersey was dual tagged. Below the Pearson tag was the manufacturer, Wilson. The database showed that the Wilson, Sports Equipment 44 tag was issued during the 1950s. It did not correspond with the Wilson tags found on NBA, NFL, or MLB jerseys from the 1963-65 period. All their versions of the 1963-65 Wilson tags can be found in the MEARS tagging database. Therefore, the Wilson tag was not correct to be issued for a jersey from the 1963-65 time period. This fact alone did not disqualify the jersey as it was possible that Wilson could have supplied Pearson with a 1950’s shell. With the tag being our first concern, we next examined the style of the jersey.
Question 2: The history of Philadelphia basketball must be discussed to determine what this jersey style may or may not have been. Since the jersey was numbered as 13, we evaluated it versus Wilt Chamberlain’s teams. His team history was:
1959 Philadelphia Warriors
1960 Philadelphia Warriors
1961 Philadelphia Warriors
1962 San Francisco Warriors
1963 San Francisco Warriors
1964 San Francisco Warriors 38 games
1964 Philadelphia 76ers 35 games
1965 Philadelphia 76ers
1966 Philadelphia 76ers
The listing of Chamberlain’s career was important as it served a starting point to determine jersey style that would help determine year.
Could it be a 1959 thru 61? Quick answer, no. 1963 was the first year the Philadelphia 76ers were in existence. The team’s owner purchased the Syracuse Nationals and moved the team back to Philadelphia after the Warriors moved to San Francisco in 1962. For the inaugural season, the reverse numeral was circled in white stars. No stars were found on previous Philadelphia Warriors jerseys, thus eliminating this as being a Warriors issue. The following examples illustrated the stars and style of jersey being from 1963-64. Also this jersey did compare favorably in terms of the blue-white-red shoulder piping found on both the examined jersey and the photos examined.
1. Incorrect style: Pearson 1959 Warriors home Wilt Chamberlain, note presence of vertical stripe
2. Incorrect style: Pearson 1960 Warriors home Chamberlain, new style introduced without vertical stripe
3. Incorrect style: Pearson 1961 Warriors road Wilt Chamberlain #15, shadow block numbering
4. 1963 76ers Pearson Road jersey, #23, Hunt Auctions
5. Pearson 1964 76ers road jersey, #5
6. 1964 76ers home Wilt Chamberlain jersey photo, (Corbis) verifies stars encircling reverse numerals. Also shows examined jersey does not match font style of the L & A.
7. 1965 76ers home Wilt Chamberlain photo shows Wilt wearing the newly designed jersey for the 1965 season.
MEARS image below shows that for the 1965 season, the 76ers changed uniform styles and abandoned the reverse stars and the word “PHILA” was found beneath the player’s uniform number. Therefore, establishing the style as 1963-64. Although the style appeared correct, there was one main design flaw eliminating this from being a standard team issued jersey worn during the 1964 season.
1. Note close-up of the L on the examined jersey
Although the front of the jersey was supposed to read PHILA and the reverse numeral to be star circled, photographic style examination of the front font found the following major design inconsistency:
L: When comparing the lettering of the team name, PHILA, the photo show that both the font chosen for the examined jersey, L and A, did not match the lettering on the examined jersey used for comparison or the Corbis images referenced. The letter “L” did not have the curved style of the photo. The correct curving starts at the upper side of the base of the L, which extends in the vertical serif. The examined jersey had a straight base for the L.
A: When examining the A on the submitted jersey, the hole is extremely smaller when compared to the 3 MEARS examined jerseys and the accompanying Corbis images.
Therefore, we had 2 major inconsistencies in the front lettering. No examined pictures of Wilt or his teammates could be found with this style of front font.
Question 3. Could this jersey be a 1963 jersey issued to be worn by another player for the Philadelphia 76ers? Remember, Wilt did not join the team until midway through the 1964 season. Answer, no. According to www.nbareference.com, no player was issued #13 to the 76ers during 1963, and the issue of the incorrect fond could not be explained via the available photos examined.
Therefore, with the available photos and examination of 3 actual jerseys, we could not state this jersey matches known authentic team issued/worn examples. The font was an anomaly.
In conclusion, with the Wilson tag dating from the 1950s, the style of two letters of the font not matching photographically correct jerseys, MEARS could not attribute this jersey as being worn by Wilt Chamberlain. The jersey could have been made in a hurry for Wilt Chamberlain to wear during the mid season trade. But, without the discovery of actual photographs, this jersey cannot be attributed to have been worn by Wilt Chamberlain during the 1964 season and any explanation of the reason for the jersey is strictly speculation.
Troy R. Kinunen