Baseball may have been first mentioned in the United States in 1791, when city officials in Pittsfield, Mass., banned playing the game near the town meeting house. Years later, a group of “experts” decided that the game was invented by Abner Doubleday – a decision that is now called a myth.
Organized baseball started in the United States in 1857, with the formation of the National Association of Base Ball Players - 16 teams from New York - but the first professional teams were listed in 1869.
Baseball memorabilia from the 19th century is rare. Last month a poster for a championship game in Boston between the Philadelphia Keystones and the Boston Unions in 1884 was auctioned by Bonhams in New York. The poster shows a batter and catcher in proper uniforms as they played on a site that is now Copley Square. It sold for $15,000.
Q: I own a Victorian gentleman’s dresser that’s about 70 inches high and 42 inches wide. It has a tall dressing mirror on one side and a smaller shaving mirror on the other side. The dressing mirror pulls out about 9 inches on an extension mount and rotates about 70 degrees in either direction. “Peerless Adjustable Mirror” is stenciled on the back, where there’s also a label with six 1890 patent numbers. One of the brackets is embossed “Pat’d Jan. 14, 1890.” Can you give me any information about this piece?
A: A dresser like yours was pictured in an ad in an 1891 newspaper. It didn’t have the shaving mirror, and was advertised as a “lady’s dresser.” The ad claimed that the Peerless Adjustable Mirror was the only adjustable mirror made, and it could be adjusted to 16 different positions. A Jan. 14, 1890, patent was one of several patents granted for adjustable mirror supports in 1890. It was granted to David Heald and Charles H. French for “new and useful improvements in mirror supporting and adjusting devices.” The tall dresser with the unusual mirrors has very little storage space. Because of its limited usefulness, your dresser is not worth more than $400.
Q: I have a Lalique “Champs Elysees” bowl shaped like two oak leaves. The leaves are frosted, and the base and connecting part are clear. The bowl weighs 21 pounds. How much is it worth?
A: Rene Lalique (1860-1945) began making Art Nouveau glass in Paris in the 1890s. Lalique glass still is being made. Pieces made by Rene were marked with the signature “R. Lalique.” Those made from 1945 until 1977 are marked “Lalique France.” Newer pieces include the letter “R’’ in a circle. Your bowl is worth about $1,000 to $2,000. The pattern still is being made.