Summer Premier Auction 2019

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The “Original Celtics” were the world’s greatest professional basketball team in the early part of the twentieth century. No relation to the Boston Celtics, they were primarily a barnstorming squad formed out of the disbanded New York Celtics following WW1, although they did spend time in the EBL (1921-22), Metropolitan Basketball League (1922-23) and American Basketball League (1926-30) where they won a cumulative total of three championships. America’s first attempts at pro basketball were largely unsuccessful, forcing this juggernaut group of roundball junkies to travel up to 150,000 miles a year and play a grueling 150–200 game schedule. Led by such pioneers as 6’ 1” forward/center Henry "Dutch" Dehnert (credited with inventing the pivot), point guard and ballhandling wizard Nat Holman (the legendary CCNY coach), dominant center Joe Lapchick, sharpshooter John Beckman (called the “Babe Ruth of basketball”), John “Pete” Barry, Nat Hickey and “Speedy” Davey Banks, the Original Celtics won an estimated 90% of the games they played during their 20+ years of existence. In 1922–23, they finished with an unfathomable 193–11–1 record. They were too good, in fact, and were essentially blackballed and dismantled by the ABL, sending them back on the road to barnstorm by the early 1930s.

Original Celtics memorabilia of any kind is all but extinct. So you can imagine our shock to come across this original photograph featuring six players from the seemingly mythological squad, each having added their autograph in bold ink nearly a century ago! Snapped by notable New York photographer, Joseph Burt, most likely in the early 1930s, the photo measures 7.5” by 9.5” and shows the players in their “World Champion” leather jackets. The highlights are Dehnert and Lapchick, with Hickey, Barry, Banks and Manny Burns also present. The "Original Celtics" were inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame as a team in 1959, while Lapchick and Dehnert were also elected individually as players. Wonderfully maintained despite a neatly torn upper right corner, there are just a few minor creases and surface scratches. This extraordinarily rare piece represents the pinnacle of any early roundball collection. Encapsulated in a jumbo holder by PSA/DNA as Type I with the autographs graded NM-MT 8.

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Minimum Bid: $3,000
Current Bid: $3,993
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