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    Circa 1898-99 Germantown (PA) YMCA Basketball Team Imperial Cabinet Photograph. Extraordinary early cabinet photograph dates to the very inception of the professional game, and the infancy of the sport itself. It's fitting that this fresh-faced hardcourt squad would represent the YMCA, as it was at another branch just two-hundred fifty miles away that the sport had been brought to life by Dr. James Naismith in 1891.

    But it is here that we find the next great leap in the sport's evolution, the birth of National Basket Ball League, which opened its inaugural 1898-99 season with three teams each from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. One of those Pennsylvania teams was the Germantown Nationals which, like most basketball teams of the day, grew out of the local Young Men's Christian Association, which actively spread the gospel of Dr. Naismith's teachings. The Germantown club only remained active in the NBL, the very first professional basketball league, that debut season, aligning with the Interstate Basketball League for the following 1899-1900 schedule.

    A lack of a legible date on this historic image inhibits our ability to definitively assign a specific vintage, but the printed caption beneath the image clearly identifies the subject as the "Germantown Y.M.C.A. Basket Ball Team, Champions of New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania" and the turn-of-the-century style is evident. A few names of the players remain visible on the caption, the rest obscured by the passage of time.

    The image measurees 10.75x15.5" and is presented on the mount of "Gilbert & Bacon" studios of Philadelphia. Foxing and scattered soiling could likely be diminished significantly by a restorer, but the effect is not significant. The cabinet is housed in its original wood frame, which expands the final dimensions to just over 17x21". Certainly one of the most significant early basketball photographs ever to surface in the collecting hobby, this important artifact was fortuitously discovered in a dumpster by our consignor, who is owed a debt of gratitude by the early basketball historian for the rescue.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2012
    25th-27th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 936

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    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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