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 Adam Warshaw | Home > 
Boxing Premiums and Ephemera
I feel this area of collecting is significantly distinct from cards to merit its own page.  I define a premium as an item issued by a product or service provider using a boxer's name or image to promote a service or product.  Some are photographs, others are more 'unique' in nature.  Many would be considered part of the card collecting world; some have ACC numbers.

Ephemera is more generalized and covers items that are related or similar to cards in concept, or that are separate collectible classes but that routinely cross over with card collecting.
Date(s): March 3, 2012. Album by Adam Warshaw. 1 - 254 of 254 Total. 7685 Visits.
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Pierce Egan's Boxiana books from the first part of the 19th century included copper plate engravings of notable boxers.

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The images in Egan's work are about as close as you are going to get to contemporary images of the fighters who toiled before the advent of photography.

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Even so, some of them are based on still-older etchings and prints.  The fact that they are etchings on what must be a rag or cotton paper makes for astounding clarity and relatively good condition of the paper.

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The images are direct prints from the copper plates, which is how they had to reproduce art in the old days.  The plate impressions are just visible in the photos around some of the images but are clear in person.

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Every print shown here has at least one IBHOFer on it.  They date to roughly 1820-1840.

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Jem Ward.  In 1840 Egan issued a compilation volume of prints, entitled "Boxiana or Sketches of Ancient & Modern Pugilism".  The title page has an engraving of Mendoza and Humphries; the Frontispiece shows Thomas Cribb.  Rag paper copper plate prints, many early HOFers in it.

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Another James Figg image, this one has been cut down from a full plate to the borders of the engraving impression

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John Morrissey engraving by G.E. Perme.  5 x 7 but possibly trimmed down from larger.  Misspells his name "Morressey" at the bottom.  I would guesstimate ca. 1870-1880.

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This engraving of Tom Molineaux was issued in 1812 in B & W but reprinted around 1900 colorized as part of a collection of plates for The Sporting Repository. Former American slave Molineaux was freed after winning a bout and quickly emigrated to England.

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This 19th century catalog of premiums from Duke has among its offerings a stylized portrait of the Mitchell-Corbett battle, which makes the booklet itself desirable.

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Closer view of the center page of the booklet.

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1905 advertising broadside for a fight card featuring two HOFer, The Dixie Kid and Leo Houck.

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A promo card for the 1908 bout between Ketchel and Thomas.  A rare one.  Not sure what "Smith's" means but judging from the custom of the day, it is probably the name of a retailer who handed out the cards.

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This photo and the next show 1910 whiskey advertising cabinet cards from the Johnson Jeffries bout.  I don't know if there is one per round or what.

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One of the earliest premiums from Fleer, famous later for suing Topps to break its monopoly on baseball cards.

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backside of the flip book

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This image and the next show a flip book made with images of the Jeffries-Johnson fight

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Missing the cover and a few pages.

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Jeff was the subject of popular music.  This is an advertisement for sheet music.

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A 1914 souvenir booklet from Jim Jeffries bar in Los Angeles, and a postcard of the bar.

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A trade stimulator token from one iteration of the Jeffries bar

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A 1915 self-issued promo card for Benny Leonard

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This premium was a mail response card sent by the studio to fans who wrote in about Jack Dempsey's serial "Daredevil Jack."

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Another Dempsey mailer, from his Fight and Win serial.  8 x 10 but may be trimmed.

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A page from a Pathe distributors book touting Gene Tunney's movie.

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This large format [approx. 14 inches tall] handbill was issued to movie theaters to promote Gene Tunney's film.

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A double-page spread from a Pathe distributors book touting Gene Tunney's movie.

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An advertising piece from one of Benny Leonard's theatrical efforts.

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A program from a Leonard play

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a 1927 premium of Gene Tunney issued by Fro Joy in redemption for its 6 card set.  It measures about 9 x 12 and is a photogravure with really nice clarity.  There is also a Babe Ruth corresponding with his set.

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1929 premium of McGovern's Gym, this one signed by McGovern.

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Another premium showing Dempsey and Lou Gehrig.  Note the footwear on Dempsey--clearly a posed image rather than a workout.

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Cuban tobacco issuer Trinidad y Hnos is known for some fantastic baseball and entertainment cards from the 1920s.  This Dempsey premium is roughly 8 x 10, tho it has been trimmed lightly.  Trinidad y Hnos premiums are rare.

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Here is the Sharkey-Risko weigh-in card. According to a smaller advertising piece that recently surfaced, the 8 x 10s were available as a redemption for 30 empty packs.

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I do not know the story behind this item.  It is about 12 x 12 and issued as part of a large set of bouts that are West Coast and Nevada centric.  The stamp at top is for the printer's union. Based on paper and printing techniques, some dates on some of the cards,  and the bouts shown, I date the issue to 1928.

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An interesting multisport display premium from a NY clothier in 1932 has four heavyweight champs on it and a stout fellow from that other sport, Babe Ruth.

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1933 Goudey premium made from a photo from the film The Prizefighter and The Lady.

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1936 Rippled Wheat booklet featuring Jack Dempsey, with the original envelope

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1936 Rippled Wheat Dempsey.  Same size as the booklet.  Variations in the facsimile signature location are known.

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1936 Rippled Wheat cardboard "button" with a tab for wearing it in a buttonhole.

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Another premium, a thick cardboard die cut figure, about the height of a postcard.

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1936 RC Cola Jack Dempsey premium booklet.  The next two images are the inside front and inside back covers with first and last inside pages.

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Another Dempsey premium, a puzzle from Gold Medal Foods.

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Souvenir photo cover from Jack Dempsey's restaurant.

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a 1930s Jim Braddock premium.  Printed, not photographic

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The next 18 images are premiums issued by Everlast during the 1930s, in various sizes.

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The premiums were offered for sale through Everlast's annual boxing record book.

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Just in case you didn't believe me about the origin of the issue, here is an ad from an Everlast annual offering the 5 x 7 version of the photos.

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Everlast premium of Sugar Ray Robinson, 1940s.

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A 1950s version of an Everlast premium

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Max Baer for Quaker during his year as champ.

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This booklet answers a question I always had about the La Salle Hats card set: why no Benny Leonard in a set of lightweights?  Answer: because they were saving him for a booklet premium.  Someone wrote 1939 on the front; text inside indicates 1937 since it references Louis-Braddock.

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1935 Detroit newspaper premium.  Issued in the summer of 1935 it is the earliest Louis 'card' I can find.

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In 1935 Louis started working as a pitchman for Fletcher's Castoria, a laxative. This premium is ca. 1935-36 and is one the earliest Louis endorsement pieces I've seen

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Another early premium for a 'snake oil' called Wittone.  It is the size of a snapshot and is photographic.  There are other Wittone premiums that resemble postcards.

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Here is one of them.  The Sportsman's Gazette at the top never existed.  Also found without that line and with a variety of Wittone Ad backs

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A ticket from one of the light rail systems in Los Angeles, from December 1936, depicting Joe Louis [red trunks]

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An oddball premium/ad for Louis v Braddock

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One of the things that intrigues me is that an item like this survives all these years.  This mailer was intended to be hung on doorknobs of newsstands to solicit sales of a newspaper special on the fight.  Someone saved this circular all these years...fascinating, no?

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An interesting piece circa 1937 made by an Oakland photogravure artist purportedly for a Louis appearance.

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Don't know the ID of the issuer of this Louis piece.

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fascinating Latin American advertising piece for the 1940 Louis-Godoy bout.  About the size of a continental PC. Found blank backed or with back advertising in Spanish

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A Joe Louis souvenir booklet from the 1930s.

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A handbill for a Joe Louis fight film.

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This fantastic premium is a full newspaper page in size but printed on glossier paper with a blank back, for insertion into several papers that served the black community in April 1939.  The full sheet has a date at the bottom left.

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A newspaper premium before the Baer-Louis fight.

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A Joe Louis printed pin-up that is a full page in a Life magazine.

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A blank-backed Louis premium from the 1930s.

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In the late 1940s Louis lent his name to a ring novelty item.  This premium/advertising piece is from that endeavor.

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Issued in conjunction with a French-Canadian radio show at various times from 1943-47, the Parade Sportive issue is known for its hockey cards but there were boxers issued as well.  The premiums are usually blank backed, paper stock.  Sizes vary between series.

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Parade Sportive Dempsey.  There are minor variances in advertising format and wording, as the set was issued and reissued in series.

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Parade Sportive Cerdan.  The two most important premiums in the issue are those of Jackie Robinson with Montreal and the Montreal team with Jackie Robinson.  They predate his debut as a Dodger.

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Parade Sportive Carnera

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An Apeda Studio Jack Dempsey advertising piece from the 1940s.

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Ticket envelopes and correspondence envelopes were commonly made for fights.

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They are attractive, highly collectible and not very expensive as compared to programs, tickets and posters.

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An envelope depicting the famous Joe Louis graphic poster supporting WWII.  I want a poster but there are so many counterfeits...

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Fighter-manager letterhead was made with images and great graphics of the fighters.

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A stunning Art-Deco motif for Young Jack Thompson's mamagement letterhead

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Letterhead from a Joe Louis tour.

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A fantastic early Cassius Clay publicity photo, this photo and accompanying letter are from shortly before the first Liston fight.  The image was shot in December 1960 and the Clay team printed them up in this format for distribution to fans.  The first run of about 100 was made in 1960, with additional printings thereafter.  The signature is facsimile and was added some time after the initial print run.  Obviously, no more were printed after he changed to Muhammad Ali.

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Letterhead from Clay-Liston II

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1940s or 1950s Max Baer premium for dog food.  The mike is from a Sacramento radio station where Baer had a show.

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A PC sized premium from Sugar Ray's Harlem NY restaurant.

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I really liked this restaurant premium when I stumbled across it even though it is rough because it has a hell of a lineup, including both Louis and Marciano, and references a venerated but long gone boxing venue in NYC.

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Ben Lee equipment premium of the Rock.

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Marciano would shill for anything, even an accountant.

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Joe Louis shilling for Canadian Ace beer.  The company was long a front for organized crime and was trying to go legit when this was issued in the 1950s.

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1950s Joe Louis Milk Co. premium.  PC sized.

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1950s Joe Louis Milk Co. premium.  PC sized.

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A magnificent 1950s Chesterfield Joe Louis ad piece, roughly 2 feet square, that includes hanging hardware on its back.

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1959 Eagles Hall of Fame Jim Jeffries.

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Both this card and this product are an interesting story.  The card shown here is a promotional issue of Cuban brandy maker 3 Toneles.  The card dates to 1959 and carries the three year boxing record [1956-1959] of Florentino “The Ox” Fernandez, a Cuban middleweight contender with a blank space to write in the result of his December 1959 fight.  Now, in 1959 Fidel Castro took over Cuba in his communist revolution.  It took a while, though, for things to gel.

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This color card of Fernandez dates a bit later than the black and white one because it reports a December 1959 bout as scheduled but with no result.  Fernandez fought a bout in Cuba in April 1960 then fled to the USA.  My suspicion is that the card had a very short issue life since the Cuban government rapidly outlawed professional boxing and Fernandez ended up in Miami in mid-1960.  I suppose he did hit like an ox; he was voted #57 on The Ring’s list of alltime greatest punchers.  He lost a split decision to Gene Fullmer for the middleweight title, lost fights to Emile Griffith and Ruben Carter, beat Gaspar Ortega twice and KO’d Jose Torres.  Overall he was 50-16-1 in a career that ran from 1956-1972.

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A third 3 Toneles premium.  This one is the earliest and is posctcard-sized.

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1950s broadside for a fight made using Slidewell Bows' artwork.  I have seen another for a different bout.

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The next 15 images are part of a 1969 set of premiums issued by NY Weekly Boxing News.  This image shows the masthead for the weekly and the advertisement for the set. Note that since Floyd Patterson lost then won the title, they actually included two of the same pictures of FP in the set, at least at first, then stopped that stupidity.

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Obviously the set key, a 1969 Ali card.  Note that these are actual cards, as they are halftone prints rather than real photo.

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Card stock is heavy and the size is 8 x 10.

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You can tell the set was made on the cheap because they did not even bother to custom caption every photo.  Had I not been able to examine an original issue of the periodical and a full set with mailer I'd not have agreed so readily that all of them were part of the same set.

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This Carnera is a ripoff of a photo used in many sets in the 1940s-1950s.

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This photo was probably a Johansson publicity photo that they pirated, since it is captioned in Swedish.

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Jack Dempsey shilling for DeVry from the late 1950s or early 1960s

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The press kit from Ali-Frazier I.  This is the cover, Frazier signed.

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The guts of the kit.  The pink items are printing plates.  This particular kit was given to media outlets that might need ready made print advertising art.

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Frazier-Ali I program

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Frazier v. Foreman press kit cover

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A standee measuring approximately 18 inches die cut around the fighters' silhouettes.

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Rare ticket from a title fight in Uruguay involving HOFer Pascual Perez.

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Primo Carnera wrestling poster.  He became a pro 'wrassler' in the 1950s and this poster was used to advertise an appearance.

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I had the poster cleaned and linen mounted to protect it and flatten out the folded over areas.  It is actually 99% intact and completely original--no restorations done.

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Can't do much better than this: Bert Sugar's press pass from a heavyweight title fight with both his autograph and his picture on it.

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A large-scale printed image of Primo Carnera often identified as part of a premium set issued by the makers of the 1947 Homogenized Bond Bread set.  I believe that the same art was used but that the images are from a mixed sport picture pack that was retailed in the era.

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A Cerdan from the picture pack.

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A Graziano from the picture pack.  Not known as a Homogenized Bond Bread card.

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A cut from a Joe Louis broadside or other promotional item.

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A GPC invitation to a night of champions dinner by the CA state athletic commission, with two tickets from the dinner, to show each side of the ticket

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This is some kind of printed flyer with a picture of Jeffries and his mother.  I have no idea what it is for or from

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A business card from the manager of Jeffries Barn

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ticket and rain check from a bout night at the Barn

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Promo card for a Jeffries book on fishing

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Additional Jeffries mailing reply cards.

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Letterhead from Jeffries Barn, with signature of Barn manager and ex-MLB player G.W. "Bill" Aiton.

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Business card of George Stewert. Ontario is a town east of Los Angeles with a rich tradition of boxing events.

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Inside of the cover from a 1941 edition of The Knockout advertising the tribute dinner.

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Jeffries Barn published a weekly newsletter/program and also held annual events celebrating its famous owner.  This and the next few images are pages from the Barn News from those events.

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1944 Castle Films advertising brochure.

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Fan Fotos issued a series of 8 x 10 photos in the 1960s.  The earliest runs can be distinguished by their lack of zip codes in the address for the company.  Sold in packets by mail order.

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A British boxing ticket signed by Sir Henry Cooper

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Not that Wrigley; the one in Los Angeles where the PCL Angels played.

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An invite to Jim Jeffries' 75th birthday party, sent to the Stewerts, who were close friends.  Mr. S was the manager of the boxing arena in Ontario, CA.

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1946 newspaper premium for the Louis-Conn II bout.

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Be very careful when buying supposedly vintage boxing premiums and ephemera.  Always check the printing under a powerful loupe or glass.  I bought this thinking it was a ca. 1910 die cut but when I received it the print pattern was unmistakeably modern.

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