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1881 National League Team Composite Cabinet Card
Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $7,540.00
Exceedingly rare and possibly unique cabinet card style display featuring photo composites (in the form of individual player portrait images) of all eight National League clubs for the season of 1881: Boston, Cleveland, Buffalo, Chicago, Troy, Providence, Detroit, and Worcester. This extraordinary piece, which measures 5.25 x 8 inches, is the first National League composite photograph from this era we have ever seen. Each team is represented by twelve portrait images, with the exception of Detroit and Worcester (13 each), for a total of 98 portrait images. All of the players are presented in formal attire. Among the many notable players featured here are Harry Wright, Cap Anson, Mike "King" Kelly, Pud Galvin, Buck Ewing, Mickey Welch, Ned Hanlon, and John Montgomery Ward. The name of each team is printed in white below its respective group of portraits and the name of the photographer ("Randall - Detroit") appears in the center, also in white lettering. In addition to its design and subject matter, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this piece that distinguishes it as one of the finest of all nineteenth-century cabinet photographs is that, despite their size, each of the individual portrait photos is exceptionally crisp and clear. A vintage gilt matting (affixed to the card by means of an adhesive) borders the central image area. The top area of the matting displays an arched design which obscures two portraits, and partially obscures three others (combined), from the Boston and Cleveland clubs. Lettered in white along the top of the matting is the notation "Nationals - 1881 Season." There are a few vintage ink notations written on the reverse (illegible). The visible image area of the card within the matting is in Excellent condition, displaying just a few unobtrusive surface wrinkles. The gilt matting, which is quite fragile, displays a number of chips and tears, and could presumably be removed from the photographic display by a professional restorer if desired. The matted display was removed (by us) from its vintage wood frame for purposes of examination and to take images. The original frame is included with the display. Composite baseball photographs of teams dating from 1881 (and several years on either side of this date) are extremely rare. Baseball composite photographs featuring portraits are actually much more common dating from the early 1870s and much more so in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Entire league composites are essentially unheard of in the nineteenth century. This is the first of any kind we have ever heard of. One of the most unique and fascinating of all nineteenth-century baseball photographic displays, this is an extraordinary find dating from the earliest years of the National League. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000/$3,000. SOLD FOR $7,540.00
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