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Lot # 81 (of 1807)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1891 Boston BBC Champions Team Cabinet with John Clarkson, Kid Nichols, and Mike "King" Kelly

Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $3,258.75

Resembling a team cabinet card from the era, this rare piece, which features an original team-composite photograph of the 1891 National League Champion Boston Beaneaters, is actually the cover to an 1890s old-timers' day scorecard (with scorecard pre-printing on reverse of mount). The photograph, produced by renowned Boston photographer G. Waldon Smith, features bust-length images of the following fourteen team members: Manager Frank Selee, Mike "King" Kelly, John Clarkson, Charles "Kid" Nichols, Steve Brodie, Bobby Lowe, Charley Ganzell, Harry Staley, Charlie Bennett, Billy Nash, Joe Quinn, Harry Stovey, Herman Long, and Tommy Tucker. Each of the formal studio portraits pictures the player in uniform with the exception of Selee (formal attire). All of the players are identified in print below their respective images. The reverse features what appears to be one half of an old-timers' day scorecard and the preprinted lineup features many famous Boston players (last name only), including Clarkson, Kelly, Sutton, Leonard, Murnane, and Morrill. This piece has always been an enigma. Although we have seen a few other examples, all of which are identical with regard to the scorecard mount, none have been found with the other half of the scorecard, strongly suggesting to us that there is, in fact, no missing half. Also, Clarkson retired after the 1894 season and Kelly passed away that same year, so when was this old-timers' day game played? If the "Kelly" listed in lineup (as catcher) is not King Kelly, then who is it? There were a few other nineteenth-century players named Kelly, but none of them were catchers, nor did they have any ties to Boston clubs. Although many of the questions surrounding this piece will probably never be answered, there is no debate among collectors with regard to its aesthetics. This is a remarkable nineteenth-century baseball composite photo, capturing one of the premier teams of the era. Boston captured the first of its three consecutive National League pennants in 1891 with a roster that included four future Hall of Famers: Kelly, Clarkson, Nichols, and Selee. Unfortunately, inter-league politics resulted in no World Series that year, which prevented the Beaneaters from facing their American Association inner-city rivals, the Boston Reds, for World Championship bragging rights. Interestingly, King Kelly began the 1891 season as player/manager with Cincinnati of the American Association but was released in August. After signing with Boston of the American Association on August 17th, he played only a week before jumping to the Beaneaters, thereby claiming a roster spot with both league champions in 1891. The photo (3.75 x 5.25 inches), which shows remarkable clarity, displays only minor surface wear and is in Excellent to Mint condition. The scorecard mount (4 x 6 inches) appears to be trimmed on all four borders and displays a heavy crease/tear in the upper left corner, as well as a few small areas of surface paper loss on the reverse. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $3,258.75

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