Legend has it that Reds owner John T. Brush's vision for his new stadium was inspired by the neoclassical Beaux Arts architecture he saw at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, a.k.a. the "White City." Thus was born the Palace of the Fans—a concrete-and-iron structure with 22 hand-carved Corinthian columns and with "CINCINNATI" chiseled into the grandstand frieze. There were 19 so-called "fashion boxes" perched above the field for wealthy patrons, and then the "Rooters' Row" section sprawled below for the masses.
Befitting such a grandiose ballpark, Brush pulled out all the stops to produce this silver tribute for VIPs, as both a season pass and as an invitation to the stadium dedication ceremony. Though not the rarest or earliest of Cincinnati's iconic turn-of-the-century silver passes (the virtually never-seen 1899 and 1900 examples respectively sold for $11,500 and $9,000 in our November auction), this "Palace of the Fans" edition remains the most popular and highest valued—topping out at over $15,500 in a 2013 auction.
The beauty presented here was given to sportswriter Gus Axelson, perhaps best known for authoring a Charles Comiskey biography. Measuring 3-7/8 x 2-3/4", it showcases an incredibly ornate, raised-relief grandstand vignette with intricate figures of four tiny players on the field and numerous spectators. Embossed text reads, "1902 AT THE CINCINNATI BALL PARK / Dedication May 16th / YOU ARE INVITED." EX condition. This item has a reserve (estimated value $7500-$10,000).