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1926 Harrisburg Giants Negro League Team Panorama with Oscar Charleston
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $5,581
Extremely rare team panorama of the 1926 Harrisburg Giants, a short-lived member of the Eastern Colored League. The photo captures sixteen team members (including executives) posing shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the grandstand, including Hall of Famer Oscar Charleston, who was player/manager of the Giants during the club's entire four-year tenure in the Eastern Colored League. Other notable members include Walter "Rev" Cannady, Herb "Rap" Dixon, John Beckwith, William "Wise" Johnson, Cliff Carter, Colonel Stroutner (team owner), Clarence "Fats" Jenkins, Ken "Ping" Gardner, and Jose Perez. The white-lettered caption reads "Harrisburg Giants 1926" along the base. Each of the players has been identified below his respective image by means of an affixed piece of brown paper bearing his typewritten name and position. The photographer's credit, which appears to read "Ensminger Studio," is located in the lower right corner. The Harrisburg Giants began play in 1922 as an independent club and joined the Eastern Colored League in 1924. They remained a member of the league through 1927 before folding. Needless to say, this is a rare photographic image, given the club's brief six-year existence. It may very well be the only surviving example. Charleston, who is considered by many to be the greatest all-around player in Negro League history, is by far the most prominent individual pictured here and his presence alone makes this one of the most desirable 1920s Negro League panoramas we have ever handled. While not as well known as Charleston, another individual pictured here, C. L. Hopkins (the club's business secretary) is equally important by virtue of who he was: our consignor's great-grandfather! This photo has been in our consignor's family since 1926, having been handed down from generation to generation until this time. While he and his family have enjoyed it for many decades, they feel it is now time to part with it in the hopes that it will be purchased by a collector or, ideally, a museum that will appreciate its significance to the history of the Negro Leagues. Any and all Negro League team photos from the 1920s are rare and this example is no exception. We have never seen another Harrisburg team panoramic photo, and it is only due to its unique provenance - having been saved by the club's business secretary and handed down through generations of his family - that this example has survived. It is very possible that other team executives and players also received panoramas but to the best of our knowledge this is the only example. This might be a unique photographic image picturing Oscar Charleston and his 1926 Harrisburg Giants. It is a photograph that, in addition to its ideal provenance and rarity, has a haunting quality and a remarkable historical significance. The photo (29.5 x 7.75 inches) displays a number of flaws, including minor rippling, light photographic contrast particularly at each end (Charleston's image is not affected), minor water staining, two small dark stains, and a few small tears resulting from the fact that a portion of the photo (in the upper right corner) has adhered to the glass as a result of the water staining. In Good condition overall. The photo remains housed in what appears to be its original wood frame (31.5 x 9.75 inches). Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $5,581
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