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1874 Philadelphia Athletics Original Team Portraits Lot of 12 with Anson, Reach. One of the most important photographic finds in the history of the hobby, the presented dozen of individual portrait photographs transports us to the very infancy of the professional game with a study of the National Association's Philadelphia Athletics, winners of professional baseball's first Championship in 1871. Clearly these images derive from the same session at Philadelphia's "Suddards & Fennmore" studio that created the 1874 team image which realized $43,500 in a major 2006 auction, dating them to the fourth season of the club's existence. But what that aforementioned team image lacked in condition, the photos presented here most certainly do not. The catalog imagery does not deceive--each and every one of the twelve original photographs present at a stunning NRMT level, a true miracle of survival. The images are printed on stock similar to Old Judge cabinets or other similar 19th relics, which certainly aided in their impressive endurance.

Most notable among the players represented are Adrian "Cap" Anson and Al Reach, the team's star shortstop and outfielder respectively, who would each properly earn enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame for his early service to our National Pastime. Anson would end the 1874 season with 317 career hits, well under ten percent of the total he would tally for his career. Reach, at age thirty-four, was nearing the end of his playing career and would soon turn his full attention to the founding of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise and, later, his eponymous sporting goods company. The balance of the players represented in glorious sepia tones: Joe Battin, John Clapp, Wes Fisler, Count Gedney, Dick McBride, John McMullin, Mike McGeary, Tim Murnane, Count Sensenderfer and Ezra Sutton.

Our ability to properly identify the players was greatly aided by the discovery of a page from the July 25, 1874 issue of Harper's Weekly, which provides on page 624 woodcut images "From Photographs by Suddards & Fennemore, Philadelphia." These perfectly matching artist's renderings of nine of the twelve offered photos can be seen on our webpage, and the Harper's page will be included with the lot.

Each of the 3.75x5.25" photos features the elegant "Suddards & Fennemore" studio mark on verso, with a couple bearing minimal pencil writing here as well. We assume this writing to be newspaper related, as the collection derives from the family of a nineteenth century Philadelphia newspaper editor. We advise interested parties to examine our online images of the photographs, where one will be able to discern the occasional light crease, image toning, or chipping of emulsion at the edges, which remain all but invisible without close inspection. One of the most talked-about displays at our corporate booth at the Baltimore National this year finally makes it to the auction block on November 5, 2010. Mark your calendar--this is a once in a lifetime event. After this catalog went to press, Heritage was contacted and directed to images of some cabinet cards with photos identical to those presented here. These newfound cabinet cards exhibit an extended background area, suggesting the possibility that the presented photographs may have been cropped from a slightly larger size at the original studio or at some later date.

Although the photography studio is referred to as Suddard's & Fennemore in the 1874 Issue of Harper's Weekly, it has been recently discovered that The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards includes a listing for 1874 Suppard's & Fennemore Cabinets, which appear to be the same or similar issue as the offered lot. Examples of these cards are included within the Wright Collection of the New York Public Library, and differ from the presented lot in a few respects. The dimensions of the presented examples are slightly smaller, suggesting again the possibility of cropping from the original size. These prints will receive an "Authentic" assessment from a third party grading service. Furthermore, the gold printer's ink on the studio logo of the offered representations indicates a variation on the black ink utilized in the Wright Collection models. And, finally, neither the Standard Catalog nor the Wright Collection exceeds (7) listed examples, nor does either include Cap Anson or Al Reach, as the offered examples here are the only ones currently known to exist.

Service and Handling Description: Flat Material, Small (view shipping information)

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Auction Dates
November, 2010
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 19
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 3,143

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