1880s John L. Sullivan Presentational Walking Stick, Silk Flag & Cabinet Photograph
Hovering between two eras, John L. Sullivan is generally recognized as the last bare-knuckle boxing champion and the first Heavyweight Champion of gloved boxing. This unbelievable collection of Sullivan memorabilia tells the tale of a larger-than-life fighter that came to define a generation in the sport. The first item is a stylish presentational walking stick given to Sullivan with an ornate gold head engraved, "J.L. Sullivan By His Irish Friends of the Pueblos, 1883." It measures 38" and has some light abrasions and wear visible. The fashionable stick embodies the swagger Sullivan undoubtedly had. The second item in the set, an American flag, speaks to his unwavering nationalism, as well as his heritage. A committed patriot, Sullivan famously addressed the crowd after getting knocked out by "Gentleman Jim" Corbett toward the end of his career, saying, "If I had to get licked, I'm glad I was licked by an American." The 36x36", 39-star American flag contains symbols reflecting Sullivan's background, including American eagles, an Irish Harp, and his initials "JLS." The flag is attributed by advanced collectors to Sullivan's 1888 fight against Charley Mitchell, an epic struggle that ended in a draw. The two met in Chatilly, France, at a secluded chateau, and in the pouring rain pummeled one another until neither could lift their arms. The flag is in VG condition with only slight staining. The final piece of the trio is a cabinet card of Sullivan in a suit and top hat measuring 4.25x6.5". His signature appears several times on the front and back, though it is not in Sullivan's hand. The card has some wear on its edges, a minor crease to left side, but is otherwise in VG condition. The set comes with a copy of an LOA from its original owner, whose relative owned a business on Bowdoin St. in Dorchester, Massachussetts in the 1890s. This relative was involved in investment dealings with Sullivan, and received the flag and cane as a settlement from an unsuccessful venture. This is an extraordinary compilation of memorabilia from one of boxing's most mythic figures.