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1929 Philadelphia A's Team-Signed Presentation Photo Album
Starting Bid - $2,500, Sold For - $7,110
In 1929 the New York Yankees fabled baseball dynasty was overthrown by one equally impressive in both talent and duration: the 1929-1931 Philadelphia Athletics. In commemoration of the club's first World Championship in 1929, the Athletics commissioned the creation of an extremely high quality special presentation photo album from H. Madonna Wagner Photographic Studios, specifically to be given to players as a keepsake. The professionally bound album with cloth covers features thirty individual sepia photos (5 x 9 inches) of team members and executives. Twenty-nine of the thirty photos have been beautifully signed on the front by the respective individual (the photograph of team trainer Doc Ebling is the only one not signed). This is one of the most impressive team-signed presentation pieces we have ever seen and the fact that it commemorates what, in many people's opinion, is the greatest team ever assembled (with all due respect to the 1927 Yankees) makes it all the more significant. The gilt-stamped letters on the cover identify the contents and make special note of both its presentation status and the photographer: "Snapshots/THE WORLD'S CHAMPIONS/BASEBALL CLUB OF 1929/TO MY FRIENDS/H. MADONNA WAGNER" The interior signed photos are comprised of the following: Thomas Shibe (team owner), Connie Mack (manager), Eddie Collins, Wm."Kid" Gleason (coach and former manager of the 1919 "Black" Sox), Earle Mack (coach), Mickey Cochrane, Jimmie Foxx, Joe Boley, George Burns, George Earnshaw, Al Simmons, Jack Quinn, Bing Miller, Lefty Grove, George Haas, Rube Walberg, Max Bishop, Jimmy Dykes, Eddie Rommel, Sam Hale, Bill Shores, Howard Ehmke, Jimmie Cronin, Walter French, Cy Perkins, Homer Summa, Lefty Yerkes, "Bevo" LeBourveau, and Steve Pflegler (inscribed "To my friend Harry"). The one unsigned photo as previously noted is that of Doc Ebling. The signatures, penned in a variety of fountain-pen inks (mainly black or blue) range from "7" to "10," averaging "9," with the exception of Earle Mack and Eddie Rommel, both of which are faint ("3/4"). Seventeen of the photos, all of which bear the photographer's embossed stamp near the base, have been mounted (by means of adhesive on the reverse) to their respective album page. The remaining thirteen photos are mounted by means of plastic photo corners and can be easily removed from the album if so desired. Aside from some minor rippling, the photos remain in Excellent to Mint condition overall. These are high-quality professional photos. They have been protected from all elements including light so it is not surprising that all are very impressive images with outstanding contrast. The exterior covers of the album (12 x 7.25 inches) display moderate wear commensurate with their age. The extreme rarity of these albums is naturally due to the fact that they were distributed only to team members and front office executives. While by definition few were issued, fewer still have survived. This is only the second example we have ever offered. The first appeared as Lot 1042 in our May, 2011, sale, where it realized a final sales price of $9,988. On a side note, an interesting aspect of this album pertains to the unsigned photo of Doctor E. V. Ebling. In the past, we had always assumed that if one photo in the album were unsigned (as we have seen in other examples as well) it was simply for one reason: that particular team member was the original owner of the album (and did not find it necessary to sign his own book). In this album, the photo of Steve Pflegler is addressed "To my friend Harry," which presents a mystery (as we would have thought any personalization would have been to Doc Ebling). We can think of two explanations: One is that in this case the album might have been the personal copy of the photographer, whose first name might have been Harry (we have been unable to determine what the "H." in "H. Madonna Wagner" stands for). It is also possible, and perhaps more likely, that Doc Ebling was known by the players as "Harry." In either case, this is a simply outstanding example (and one of the few in existence) of the most highly prized of all baseball presentation albums of the era, and the ultimate signed item representing the legendary 1929 Philadelphia Athletics team. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000+. SOLD FOR $7,110
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