We have a dark leather basketball with leather lacing and an internal bladder (we had a sporting goods place put in the bladder). The lacings have to be undone to fill with air. There is no way to pump it up on the outside of the ball. It has no insignia or markings of any kind.
We know that these prehistoric basketballs were soft and used before the dribble was the dribble as we know it today. When the game was first invented a dribble was defined as a pass to yourself.
Anyway, our basketball looks exactly like the one in the picture (on this site) that James Naismith is holding. All other photos we have found show the leather a little dimpled and lighter in color. Ours is smooth. Unless its a fake we believe it to be very old.
We have not been able to even find articles about non authentic basketballs in the sports memorabilia world. We bought it about 15 years ago from a sports dealer who owned a huge storage unit full of old sports equipment etc.
If anyone has any information about the very early balls used in this game we would love to hear from you.
Mike and Anna Wylie