Seelbach Checker Services Collection
Mr. Edwin J. Seelbach is best known as one of the leading checker book dealers in the 1920’s. The Seelbach Checker Services Collection is comprised of Seelbach’s business correspondence and catalogs of other checker dealers.
Seelbach also left his mark in checkers history as having arranged the book for the 7th American Checkers Tournament that took place in Chicago in March of 1929.
On the surface Seelbach has led a very bland life, but upon further investigation of his correspondence, it is clear that Seelbach was a key player in leading a checkers revolt against the Old Guard of checkers society.
It may be impossible for many to think of our old childhood game of checkers as being a societal rave, but in the early 1900’s it was akin to the present day World of Warcraft in popularity and social comradery.
In 1928 Seelbach was the secretary of the American Checker Association (ACA, later to be known as American Checkers Federation), and was given the task of setting up the 7th American Tournament with the ACA treasurer Frank R. Wendemuth. This should have been a relatively easy task for two men who lived in the same city. The responsibility to find a proper location became anything but easy due to the fact that the two men where not on speaking terms with each other.
Both men were prominent checker book dealers of their time and had previously done business with each other. In 1926 one of these business transactions went terribly wrong.
After a few threatening letters and a court trial later the men were no longer on friendly terms with each other.
What happened next will go down in checkers history as being called the Seelbach Rump Tournament.
H. B. Reynolds, the ACA president at this time, was unaware of the two men’s hatred toward each other when they were elected into office. When the ever growing animosity became known, Reynolds asked both men to resign. Wendemuth was quick to resign where as Seelbach did not.
Instead, Seelbach called a meeting of all the paid members of the ACA and elected new officers. It appears that Seelbach was on some sort of crusade to take over the ACA and change their way of conducting business. Seelbach believed that only paying members should be the ones making decisions. This of course did not sit well with the Old Guard who, in the words of H. B. Reynolds have carried the burdens of the association for years and should be considering members.
Seelbach proceeded to make plans for the 7th Tourney to take place in Chicago with his new recruits, while the Old Guard of ACA made plans to hold the 7th Tourney at Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio.
The end result? Although both tournaments resulted with a published book, the Cedar Point Tournament is the only one officially recognized by the ACA. All decisions made by Seelbach and his new recruits were completely ignored and were never mentioned again.
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