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Blues win bidding war for historic ticket

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media  May 17, 2017 2:11 PM

The Journey | S2E3 Season 2 | Episode 3. In the third episode of Season 2 of The Journey, go behind-the-scenes as Carlton finds some early success in the 2017 season. Presented by Virgin Australia.

A generous benefactor has assisted the Club in its acquisition at auction of a rare 1874 Carlton membership ticket, printed just 10 years after the founding of the football club itself.

Measuring just 5.5 x 4.8 centimetres, the 143 year-old ticket features sketches of two Carlton footballers of the day dressed in blue knickerbockers, shirt and cap, with blue and white striped hose. 

The 1874 Carlton membership ticket. (Photo: Carlton Media)

The tiny membership ticket carries the name of L.J. Hayes (presumably the Carlton member) in graphite. Interestingly, a Mr. L.J. Hayes served with Crone as a Carlton Vice-President and Selection Committee member in 1925, and continued in those capacities until the end of ’33. 

The worn ticket also features two illegible ink signatures – one of them possibly that of Tom Power, the then-Carlton secretary and vice-captain. It’s encased in a maroon leather cover on which the interlocking CFC letters and “SEASON 1874.” are embossed in gold leaf. 

The maroon leather cover. (Photo: Carlton Media)

The precious item went under the hammer at Leonard Joel Auction House in South Yarra on Sunday, with Carlton prevailing despite the interest of three other serious bidders. The ticket was one of 37 lots of historic football memorabilia – which included photographs, books, certificates and trophies - from the collection of the 22—game former Carlton footballer David Crone, a World War I veteran who later served the club as president.

Former 22-game Carlton footballer David Crone. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

The ticket serves as a tangible reminder of a significant moment in Carlton’s pre-VFA history, as 1874 was also the year in which the players, led by captain Jack Donovan, secured the club’s fourth Challenge Cup for competition’s best in  a field which included Albert Park, East Melbourne, Geelong, Local Forces, Melbourne, North Melbourne, Richmond and St Kilda. 

Melbourne-based memorabilia expert Rick Milne rated the item a significant acquisition for the football club. 

“The earliest membership tickets I have seen have been Carlton’s, and that one (1874) is certainly one of the earliest,” Milne said. 

“I’m a very serious collector of anything pre-VFL - in other words, pre-1897 - and I’ve got some pretty good stuff, (but) most of mine, I have to say, are 1880s.” 

The 1874 ticket was the earliest of a number of Carlton membership and associated tickets auctioned - amongst them a Rabbit Burrow membership ticket of 1880. Carlton formed the Rabbits in that year, adopting the name from the technique of ‘rabbiting’ (a player stooping down so as to cause another to fall by placing his body below the other’s hips), which coincidently was banned in 1880.

Notwithstanding the minutes in ink on parchment of the Carlton Football Club’s first annual meeting of 1865, the newly-acquired 1874 membership ticket is its oldest item of ephemera.

The ticket will shortly be displayed in the showcase cabinet flanking the ground level reception area at Ikon Park.

While Carlton has in its keep most membership tickets for each of the seasons since 1902, its pre-VFL collection is regrettably non-existent.

The club once boasted a significant collection of pre-VFA cards, each affixed by pin to a framed backing board which hung from a wall on the first floor of the since-demolished George Harris Stand. 

Tragically, in an era when security was not at a premium, the tickets, which featured a distinct pinhole through their centres, were stolen.

Accordingly, Carlton would welcome the following football club membership tickets as significant acquisitions to its ever-growing collection - 1875-1901, 1915, 1987, 1988 and 1995.