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1887 N690-1 Kalamazoo Bats Cabinet Card - Mathews
Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $9,400.00
Stunning high-grade N690 Kalamazoo Bats cabinet card of A's star pitcher Robert T. Mathews. Better known as "Bobby" Mathews, he was one of the game's great stars and longest playing veterans at this time. His career began in 1871 and he recorded a total of 297 victories, including three 30-game seasons and forty-two wins in 1874. This card was issued in 1887, his final season as a player. This is the only Kalamazoo Bats cabinet card example of Mathews we have ever seen. Mathews is also a particularly rare subject in the standard Kalamazoo Bats series. Kalamazoo Bats cabinet cards are one of the rarest of all nineteenth-century baseball card issues and feature the most stunning photography of any nineteenth-century set. This is one of four examples we are privileged to offer in this auction, which is approximately the same number of examples we have handled in total during the past twenty years. The cabinet cards are extremely striking and are much rarer than the traditionally seen smaller Kalamazoo Bats cards featuring Philadelphia players. Kalamazoo Bats cabinets are easily identified by their larger size (4.25 x 6.5 inches) and by the small “C. Gross & Co; Copyright 1887” stamp embossed directly on the photo. They are particularly noted for the distinctive style and quality of their images. The image on this card is very bold, with flawless contrast and simply unbelievable detail. It would be hard to imagine a higher quality photograph from any era, let alone from 1887. We can literally count the laces on Mathews' shoes. (There are eleven.) With a magnifying glass, we can even see individual whiskers of his mustache, and very clearly see the glare of light in the pupils of Mathews' eyes. We're not kidding. (And we used to think seeing uniform buttons clearly was a big deal.) This is miraculous photograph. The photographer's backdrop is also a fascinating element, with painted trees and plants. The photograph is bright, crisp, clean, and essentially unimprovable. The player’s name is neatly written in ink on the back of the mount , along with the date "1886 or 1887" and the number "29," and it appears there was once a strip of tape along the left edge of the reverse; the cabinet card is otherwise in Excellent condition. This is an exceptional example from one of the nineteenth century's most substantial and highly regarded sets. Dimensions: 4.25 x 6.5 inches. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000/$3,000. SOLD FOR $9,400.00
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