NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two Kansas University basketball fans paid more than $4.3 million on Friday for the faded and soiled original rules of basketball drawn up by the sport’s founder, James Naismith, more than a century ago.
The auction price for Naismith’s “Founding Rules of Basketball” — two signed typescript pages spelling out the 13 original rules for the game — set a record for a piece of sports memorabilia.
The founding basketball rules, headed “Basket Ball” written in Naismith’s hand, were typed up in December 1891 on the morning he introduced the sport to the world.
The 10-by-8-inch pages, bearing tape marks from Naismith’s attempts to preserve them, had been expected to sell for about $2 million. They were sold by the Naismith International Basketball Foundation
The rules were bought by David and Suzanne Booth, who said they hoped to bring them to the University of Kansas, home to a rich college basketball tradition.
The Canadian-born Naismith was Kansas’ first basketball coach.
Basketball has become one of the most popular U.S. sports, along with baseball and football, and is booming in places such as China and Eastern Europe.
The previous sports memorabilia record was set in 1999 when the baseball hit by Mark McGwire to break the single-season home run record in 1998 sold for $3 million.
The basketball rules were one of several strong prices achieved at Sotheby’s sale of books, manuscripts and rare historical documents.
Former Senator Robert Kennedy’s copy of the Emancipation Proclamation fetched nearly $3.8 million.
The copy of President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation, printed in 1864 and signed by the 16th president, sold for $3,778,500 to an anonymous buyer, more than twice the high presale estimate of $1.5 million.
The price set a record for any presidential document sold at auction.
The document, which declared freedom for slaves held in rebellious Southern states during the U.S. Civil War, was purchased by Kennedy in 1964 for $9,500. It was one of only a handful of Emancipation Proclamation copies still in private hands. Nineteen others are owned by institutions such as the Library of Congress and the British Museum.
A mounted 27-by 33-inch, 35-star silk flag flown by U.S. General George Armstrong Custer’s battalion at the Battle of the Little Bighorn sold for $2,210,500, but had been expected to sell for as high as $5 million.
The flag, bought by an unidentified American collector, was the lone Custer flag not seized by American Indians who killed Custer and his troops in the 1876 battle, Sotheby’s said.
Two hand-written pages of Bob Dylan’s lyrics for his 1960s’ protest anthem “The Times They Are A-Changin” sold for $422,500, more than twice the low estimate.
The dog-eared, smudged manuscript was written in pencil by Dylan, and is titled “by Bob Dylan.”
Editing by Greg McCune and Peter Cooney