Earliest basketball rules fetch £2.7m

Two american basketball fans have paid more than $4.3m (£2.7m) for the faded and soiled original rules of basketball, which were drawn up by the sport's founder, James Naismith, more than a century ago.

The price paid at an auction on Friday for Naismith's "Founding Rules of Basketball" – two signed typescript pages spelling out the 13 original rules for the game – set a record for a piece of sports memorabilia. The founding basketball rules were first written out by hand by Naismith, then typed up one morning in December 1891, when he introduced the sport to the world.

The 10-by-8-inch pages, bearing tape marks from Naismith's attempts to preserve them, had been expected to sell for about $2m. They were sold by the Naismith International Basketball Foundation.

The rules were bought by David and Suzanne Booth, who said they hoped to bring them to the University of Kansas, home to a rich college basketball tradition. The Canadian-born Naismith was Kansas's first basketball coach.

The previous record for sports memorabilia was set in 1999, when the baseball that was hit by Mark McGwire to break the single-season home-run record in 1998 sold for $3m. The basketball rules were one of several strong prices at Sotheby's sale of books, manuscripts and rare historical documents.

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