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1870 Lincoln Base Ball Club Team Cabinet Card From Germany with CDVs (10)
Starting Bid - $300.00, Sold For - $1,160.00
When, in August of 1874, the Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Red Stockings traveled to England to take part in a series of exhibition baseball matches, it was widely recognized that that trip represented the first overseas tour in baseball history. While it may have been the first such baseball tour by two professional teams, it was certainly not the first overseas trip by an American baseball club. That honor may well belong to the Lincoln Baseball Club, as evidenced by this remarkable relic: a team cabinet photo of the Lincoln Base Ball Club taken in Germany during the summer of 1870. This photograph has another significant distinction: it is the earliest baseball team cabinet photo known to exist. The photograph captures nineteen members of the club as they pose together in uniform. In terms of pure aesthetics, this photo ranks among the finest of the era. The players are pictured against the decorative backdrop of an ivy covered wall with portions of two American Flags hanging above. Six of the players are holding bats, while the central seated player (most likely the club's pitcher) displays a baseball in his left hand. A large pillowy base is displayed in the foreground. The photo displays exceptional clarity and is affixed to a 6.5 x 4.25-inch cardboard mount. The photographer's stamp, "Cabinet Portrait - W. Hess - Bonn - 12 Coblenzer Strasse 12," appears on the reverse. Also on the reverse, in vintage black fountain pen, is the scripted notation "The Lincoln Base Ball Club - Bonn, June 25/70." Penned below that are the names (last name only) of seventeen team members. As mentioned previously, this is believed to be the earliest baseball team cabinet photo extant, as we have never seen one that predates it. 1870 is extremely early for a cabinet-style photographic card. Most albumen photographs of this era are CDVs. Cabinet photos did not become popular in the United States until about 1873 and any baseball team cabinet prior to 1874 is exceedingly rare. Apparently cabinet style photographs became popular in Germany several years earlier than in America. Unfortunately, little is known about the Lincoln Base Ball Club. Many teams in America were called the "Lincoln Base Ball Club" in this era, and we are not certain what state this team hails from or what they where doing in Germany at the time of the photo. Obviously, ball playing was certainly on their agenda. Perhaps they were traveling with another team, taking part in a series of exhibition matches? Or maybe the club decided, as a group, to travel to Europe and introduce the game to German colleges or sporting clubs. Whatever the reason for their visit, this photo marks the earliest documented overseas trip by an American baseball club, predating the more famous Athletics/Red Stockings tour by four years. While the details of the trip may never be known, it is also possible that additional research will prove very fruitful. The team photo is accompanied by nine individual player CDVs of team members (as well as a CDV of an elderly woman) that may provide a starting point for future research. Six of the photos feature the full name identification of the player on the reverse, as well as the date the photo was taken. The photo of the elderly woman bears the cryptic notation, "The Daughter of the Lincoln Base Ball Club - June 2/1870." Each of the CDVs measures 2.5 x 4 inches and is in Excellent to Mint condition overall. Four of the CDVs bear a Hess stamp on the reverse, three others bear the stamp of J. Westhoven (another Bonn, Germany photographer), and three are blank backed. The team cabinet photo is in Near Mint condition. This is an exceptional historical find and one that sheds new light on the international growth of our National Pastime during the game's earliest years. Total 10 photographs (one team cabinet plus nine CDVs). Reserve $300. Estimate $500/$1,000. SOLD FOR $1,160.00
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