The largest early 20th century panorama we've ever encountered--one of just two known examples.
Massive 1912 Panoramic Photograph of Grand Opening of Cincinnati
National League Ballpark (50.5x18.5" image area). One of
a number of classic steel and concrete ballparks constructed during
the first ballpark boom era of 1909-23, Redland Field (later
renamed Crosley Field) was erected on the former site of the Palace
of the Fans at a cost of $225,000 by noted Cincinnati architect
Harry Hake. At 20,000 seats, the park was smaller than Wrigley
Field, Fenway Park and the rest of the stadiums christened during
this era, but the club sold 26,336 tickets for the 1912 grand
opening (the photo's text mistakenly places the figure at 27,336).
The result of this overpopulation is immediately evident in the
ring of spectators standing eight men deep inside the outfield
wall, others perched precariously atop it. Many more, uncounted in
the official census, can be seen peering from the windows of the
adjacent factories that form an early twentieth century industrial
cityscape beyond the packed grandstands.
The overflow crowd was treated to a thrilling contest on this day, April 11, 1912, as the hometown club would rally from a five to one deficit to win by a tally of ten to six, besting a Chicago Cubs team anchored by the fabled double play combination of Tinker, Evers and Chance. Prominent Reds players in the field as this image was snapped include right fielder Armando Marsans, one of the first Latin Major Leaguers, and left field Bob Bescher, whose 1911 National League record of eighty-one stolen bases stood until Maury Wills eclipsed the mark in 1962. The Reds leading hitter, first baseman Dick Hoblitzell, would room with a Babe Ruth after his future trade to the Red Sox.
The absolutely massive silver gelatin photo is titled in the negative at lower right, "Opening Game, Cincinnati National League Park, Chicago vs. Cincinnati, Attendance 27,366," and copyrighted at lower left, "Kaufmann, Weimer & Fabry Co., 425 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, 1912." The photography service was the leading producer of panoramic images of the pre-war era, but this is not only the largest specimen to surface from these skilled artisans, but the largest period panorama we've encountered, bar none. The image covers an astonishing area of 50.5" inches in width and 18.5" inches in height, effectively quadrupling the dimensions of a standard panorama of the day. The photograph is housed in its original heavy wooden frame, which concludes the measurements at approximately 27x60" and bears a small engraved plaque reading "Geo. Eckard." We must assume that Mr. Eckard was a figure of some note to have assigned such a remarkable relic as this, but we have been unable to track down any information regarding his identity.
While it is impossible to fully appreciate the majesty of this peerless photograph without viewing it in person-and we hope that those who attend the auction live in New York City will make time to do so-we strongly advise other interested bidders to view our online imagery, where the razor-sharp detail, the endless surprises hidden throughout, and the stunning state of preservation will all be made far more apparent than a printed catalog image can possibly convey. Team historian Greg Rhodes has reported that just two examples of this special photograph are known to exist today, the other in the permanent collection of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. The slightest hint of age toning in the white areas of the sky in this example is all that suggests a century of life, as the image exhibits no creasing, tearing or other noteworthy distractions, leaving it as close to Mint as any collector might dare to dream. It is, quite simply, the most impressive stadium panorama on the face of the Earth.
A study of Crosley Field.
*A donation of $100 to the American Red Cross is required to attend the Live auction.
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