Nineteenth century baseball's most coveted display pieceAn Extraordinary Example of the 1894 Temple Cup Print by Henry Sandham.
UPDATE: Please note that our original auction copy did not account for the fact that this is a variation on the most common variety of this print. We stress that this is a period original, but there were at least four versions of the print made in the last years of the 19th century. This version lacks the portraits above the main image (with twenty-four individual images in total rather than forty-four) but features text at the bottom, "A Base Ball Game" that the most common version does not have. Listed in our copy below but missing from this print style are the following: John Montgomery Ward, George Wright, Albert Spalding, Frank Selee, John Brush.
Named for coal, citrus and lumber baron (and Pittsburgh Pirates owner) William Chase Temple, the Temple Cup was an ornately detailed thirty-inch high double-handled silver trophy created in 1894 to be awarded to the victor of a seven-game series between the first and second-place teams of the National League. This first edition of the series would prove to be its most famous and controversial, as a financial scandal cast an ugly pall over the proceedings. After sweeping the first-place Baltimore Orioles in four games, the victorious New York Giants reneged upon the agreement to split revenues 50/50, a move that so disgusted the series' sponsor that Temple quickly sold the Pirates, ending his affiliation with the National League. The series would survive for three more years before fan apathy made further editions a losing financial proposition. The Cup itself was returned to the Temple family, where it languished for decades until it was tracked down by journalists at The Sporting News for display at the famous 1939 New York World's Fair. It was later sold to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for $750, where it remains to this day.
In stirring shades of black and white, steel engraver Henry Sandham captures the action of this precursor to the modern World Series. Elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen fill the grandstands surrounding the diamond where a Giants baserunner is breaking for second. A runner on third anxiously awaits the pitch to a right-handed batter at the plate. From the ragged state of the infield grass to the abbreviated crouch of the catcher to the netting that protects the fans directly behind home plate, the work is a feast of period detail. Just as thrilling are the forty-four small individual photographic portraits of players and executives that frame the larger image at top and bottom. Among those pictured: John Mongomery Ward, George Wright,Albert Spalding, Frank Selee, John Brush, Hugh Duffy, Cy Young, Wilbert Robinson, Charles Comiskey, Ed Delahanty, Adrian "Cap" Anson,Roger Connor, Amos Rusie and George Davis.
The print survives in a marvelous state of preservation, with only a single noteworthy defect at center bottom of the print where a repaired four-inch tear barely extends into the lowermost text. The other 99.5% of this key nineteenth century relic is effectively pristine. Print area is 31x46.5", with professional matting and framing resulting in final dimensions of 35x51". Third party shipping required.
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