Bib/Shield Front Jersey & Cap
Wow - This is a once in a lifetime find that I am excited to add to my collection.
Bib or shield front jerseys were the first baseball uniforms ever designed and originated around1860s. These jerseys were the predominant style of the 1870s and 1880s. During the 1880s-1890s' the lace-up style became predominant rendering the bib/shield front jerseys obsolete during this transition time period.
Jersey made from a thick wool (almost fleece like) material. The jersey is a nice off-white cream color. The Old English style "U" that adorns the bib is wool and is a yellowish-golden-greenish color overtop a thin outline of navy/royal blue that matches the cap with it's trim band beautifully. The bib, once removed, reveals a standard 3-button pullover jersey with complete matching ivory/cream celluloid buttons that attach the bib/shield.
The cap is made of blue wool, with black silk-lined interior, and a blue wool band adorned in golden trim (now faded to a darker color and matches the "U" color nicely. The cap is quite large and would fit a large adult head today; it's similar in size to modern day caps.
Both pieces are in remarkable condition with no maker tags or stampings (and no evidence of tags having been removed). Adult sized set. Jersey measures 21inches across, and 28 inches long. Jersey has evidence of wear, but is very minor relative to the age and use, and includes some moth holes, a repaired tear on the front, and fuzz/thinning on parts of the jersey (very minor).
In speaking with experts and in doing my own research there appears to be no more than 10-20 of these style uniforms known to be in existence today. Although the bib/shield style was also used for fire fighting uniforms, the fact that this set is not red (red was often used for fire), and includes an english "U" letter (common to be used among baseball teams; fire outfits often had numbers instead to designate the station #), and includes a perfectly matching baseball-style cap in terms of colors, style and age, I do believe this is a baseball uniform.
Additional photos included below show examples of this bib-style uniform from different teams not associated with this uniform to gain a sense of this style further. You'll notice one of these pictures shows a team adorning the exact Old English "U" on bibs, and another colorized photo with a player adorning an Old English "B" on a very thick jersey, much like this one.
Steve Keyman (keymancollectibles.com) also lists this jersey set with information on his website, seen here:
Previous Sales History:
(1) The first evidence of this jersey and cap on the market was with the James Mountain Antiques in Ashburnham Massachusetts. When it was found it included the jersey and cap only. More information and pictures:
(2) Following the sale at J. Mountain Antiques, the buyer appeared to have placed it in an auction in 2020 at REA. Here, a pair of pants are included, but obviously not original to the uniform set as found and offered by James Mountain Antiques, and was simply added to compliment the jersey. I have this in my possession with the jersey and caps but am not displaying the pants here on this site, as the pants are not original to the uniform set. Here is that listing: