Bank check, dated April 18, 1896, endorsed on the reverse by Hall of Fame pitcher and shortstop John Montgomery Ward. PSA/DNA has encapsulated the check and graded the signature NM-MT 8. John Ward's signature is rare in any form, especially on a check. Aside from the assurances given to collectors by the inherent authenticity of signatures on checks, the offered example is even more significant because no John Ward personal or bank checks (with Ward as the issuer) have ever surfaced within the hobby. Equally important is the fact that this is the only known check endorsed by Ward. The check, drawn on the National State Bank of Camden (New Jersey), is made out to "John Lucas & Co." in the amount of $36.56. (The signature of the issuer is illegible.) It has been endorsed on the reverse in black fountain pen by "John Lucas & Co." and, below that, countersigned by "John M. Ward." The John Lucas & Co. was a prominent paint manufacturer located in Gibbsboro, New Jersey. Ward, who retired from baseball in 1894, started his own law firm the following year, and he spent much of his later life working as an attorney. While we do not know the nature of the relationship between Ward and the John Lucas & Co., it is possible that Ward was handling some of company's legal affairs at the time. John Ward is recognized as one of the most important and influential players of the nineteenth century. In addition to being a star pitcher, and later a standout shortstop for the N.Y. Giants during the 1880s, he was also one of Major League baseball's few true scholars. Ward was a college graduate (Penn State), and he later earned a law degree from Columbia. In 1890, Ward, who was a staunch opponent of the reserve clause, served as the leader of the short-lived renegade Players' League. He retired in 1894 and passed away in 1925, which was thirty-nine years prior to his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Reserve $2,500. Estimate (open).