Detailed description on our website.
Baseball historians claim the sport’s printed birthright with this antique book set featuring the earliest surviving mention of the game. Published in (2) volumes by John Newbery in 1755, “The Card” by John Kidgell is reported as the second book to contain a baseball reference, preceded only by another Newbery publication titled “A Little Pretty Pocket-Book”. This earlier source was released in 1744, but as there are no surviving copies known of the first or other early editions, “The Card” presently enjoys the status of containing baseball’s oldest surviving notation in printed form. The baseball passage appears on page 9 of volume 1 as “and the younger Part of the Family, perceiving Papa not inclined to enlarge upon the matter, retired to an interrupted Party at Base-Ball".
The offered book set has been rebound at some unknown date and reports in solid condition, with the two-volume total of five hundred and fifty-plus original pages being supple and fairly clean with fully legible text. The page edges are darkened and there are a few with holes in the upper margins at the rear of volume 1, but the text remains unaffected and intact throughout. The dignified brown leather covers are impressed with simple but tasteful designs and the spines are labeled in gold leaf against red and black background panels. A few minor pencil notations appear on the added flyleaf pages at front and both are inscribed in ink on the reverse of the original title page in the same manor with a date and one-time proprietary initials as “W.J. 1805”.
The title page is replicated in both volumes with the date in Roman Numerals “MDCCLV” at bottom, below the title “The Card”, followed by either “Vol. I” or “Vol. II”. This titling is followed by a Latin inscription that reads “Quicquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira, voluptas, gaudia, discursus, nostri est farrago libelli, which translates to “The doings of men, their prayers, fear, wrath, pleasure, delights, and recreations, are the subject of this book” and is attributed to Roman poet Juvenal (55-140 A.D.) from his Satires, I, I, 85. This quote is followed by “London, Printed for the Maker, and Sold by John Newbery, at the Bible and Sun in St. Paul’s Curch-Yard”. Opposite the title page in volume 1 is a frontspiece color illustration of a Jack of Clubs with a passage explaining the symbolic meaning of the various elements featured in the illustration.
The oldest known editions of the “A Little Pretty Pocket-Book” are 10th and later editions from 1760 and newer. In 2008 the “Bray diary” was discovered with baseball references in 1748 and 1749, however these are handwritten notations, presumably in a single volume that was not intended for public consumption and does negate “The Card” claim.