Looking Back … 1891

Thomas Edison builds a Kinetoscope, or peep-hole viewer, which allows people to view short films. James Naismith invents the game of basketball, with the first game played by 18 students in Springfield, Mass. Cleveland’s League Park opens with the first game there pitched by Cy Young (above). The Wrigley Company is founded in Chicago, and Carnegie Hall officially opens in New York, featuring guest conductor Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.


Russian Emperor Alexander III was in the final three years of his rule when he presented this Fabergé desk clock to his wife Maria Fedorovna on their silver wedding anniversary. It realized $179,250 at an April 2008 Heritage auction.


Twenty-five years after the end of the Civil War, the government issued this $1,000 Treasury Note, featuring Union General George Meade, best known for defeating General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg. Only two examples of this 1891 series design-type are known to exist. This example realized $2.58 million at an April 2013 Heritage auction.


Kept inside by the brutal Massachusetts winters, James Naismith invented an indoor game while teaching at the Springfield YMCA. The first “basket ball” game was played that December. An eight-page manuscript handwritten by Naismith detailing that first game sold for $71,700 at a December 2006 Heritage auction. 


Frederic Remington was one of the most successful illustrators of his day, often sent by magazine editors to illustrate stories about events out West. His Apache Signal Fire for the March 1891 edition of Century Magazine sold for $262,900 at a May 2011 Heritage auction.