This souvenir medallion is the earliest known in-arena promotional fan giveaway in basketball.

It was used to attract patrons for the March 20, 1915 game between the St. Christopher Club of Harlem and the varsity basketball team of Howard University in Washington DC, an annual rivalry.

One of the over 150 historical items from the Black Fives Era of basketball that will be on exhibition at the New York Historical Society Museum from March–July 2014.

A souvenir medallion, the earliest known in-arena fan giveaway in basketball, is one of the over 150 historical items from the Black Fives Era that will be on exhibition at the New York Historical Society Museum from March–July 2014.

The novelty piece was the brainchild of early African American basketball pioneer Will Anthony Madden, the St. Christopher Club’s manager and promoter, and is one of over 150 unique and rare items on display in the first ever Black Fives museum exhibition, from March 14 to July 20, 2014 at the New York Historical Society.

St. Christopher vs Howard University ad

An advertisement for the March 20, 1915 game between the St. Christopher Club and Howard University offers souvenir miniature gold basketballs.

Given to “box holders and ladies” according to contemporary newspaper accounts, this silk and gold-toned metal object was cast by the famous jewelers Dieges & Clust, New York, makers of the medals for the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis, the Medal of Honor, and Major League Baseball’s first Most Valuable Player awards.