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Lot # 4 (of 1389)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1878 Boston Team Cabinet with George and Harry Wright (Wright Sporting Goods Advertising Card) - Extraordinary Newly Discovered Rarity!

Starting Bid - $5,000, Sold For - $27,000

Exceedingly rare team cabinet card of the 1878 World Champion Boston Red Stockings. This is the first example of this extraordinary team cabinet card we have ever seen. The composite image is comprised of individual studio portraits of ten uniformed players plus manager Harry Wright, who is dressed in formal attire. All of the players are identified in print below their respective images: George Wright, Jim O'Rourke, John Morrill, Andy Leonard, Jack Manning, Harry Schafer (spelled "Shafer"), Charles "Pop" Snyder, Ezra Sutton, Jack Burdock, and Tommy Bond. The top center panel on the card does not display a photo, but instead features an illustrated advertisement for George Wright's Base Ball and Sporting Goods Company ("No. 790 Washington Street"). A stamped advertisement for Wright Sporting Goods also appears on the reverse. Although no photographer's credit appears on the front or reverse, we know from a similarly designed Boston Red Stockings cabinet card issued in 1877 that all of these images were produced by Boston photographer J. Wood (all of the portrait photos used on this card are identical to those used on the 1877 team cabinet card bearing Wood's credit stamp, with the exception of Burdock, Snyder, and H. Wright; these three were not featured on the earlier cabinet). This is a remarkable advertising card for George Wright's sporting-goods store.

What makes this card all the more noteworthy aside from its great rarity, condition, and the fact that it is an advertising card, is that it features both Harry and George Wright. (The previously cited 1877 Red Stockings team cabinet included only George Wright.) We are not aware of any Boston Red Stockings team cabinet cards dating from 1876, and George Wright left the Red Stockings following the 1878 season to become player/manager of Providence. Therefore, this card may be the only known Red Stockings National League team cabinet that features both future Hall of Famers! When one mentions the Wright brothers, the first two names that come to mind, for baseball fans at least, are Harry and George. Harry, of course, was the architect of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball's first all-professional team, and his brother George was the club's star shortstop and the best all-around player in the game at the time. In 1871 Harry Wright took most of his Red Stockings players, including brother George, moved to Boston and joined the newly formed National Association, baseball's first professional league. Harry and George led the Red Stockings to five league championships in six seasons before the National Association folded in 1875. The following year the Red Stockings became inaugural members of the National League, where once again Wright's club dominated, winning the league championship in both 1877 and 1878. After George left the club following the 1878 season, Harry remained with the club for the next three seasons before taking over as manager of Providence in 1882, where he was once again reunited with his brother George. Although Harry and George are certainly the focal point of the 1878 Red Stockings roster, the club included a number of standout players, including fellow Hall of Famer James O'Rourke, "Honest John" Morrill (he later managed the Boston Beaneaters in the 1890s), Andy Leonard (a member of the 1869 Red Stockings), Tommy Bond (a 40-game winner in 1878), and Ezra Sutton (he played eighteen seasons and finished with a lifetime .294 average).

This card is part of an exciting new find of nineteenth-century cabinet cards that just recently surfaced. This card (along with the two other cards that comprise this small but extraordinary find) has for decades been in the possession of a noncollector's family. (Note: the 1879 Chicago team cabinet card offered in this auction is one of the other cards; the third is being saved for the next auction.) The only time these cards have even had a "brush" with the modern collecting world was in 1989, when members of the family, curious as to what the cards were and if they had any value, decided to have them appraised. Because they lived in California, they brought them to Richard Wolffers Auctions in San Francisco and were told by a representative of the company that the cards were valuable and worth thousands of dollars. At that time, the owner decided not to sell them and instead gave them to her grandson, a young 8-year old collector who was passionate about baseball, with instructions to keep them in a safe deposit box at the bank. The grandson, our consignor, has now decided that the time has come to sell them.

In addition to its rarity and historical significance, this card is also noteworthy for its remarkable condition. Each of the player portraits displays exceptional clarity and all of the printed names are clearly legible. Aside from a minuscule crease in the upper right corner of the mount and just the tiniest hint of toning, both the photo and mount (4.25 x 6.5 inches) are in overall Near Mint condition. This is an exceptional piece in all respects and by any measure one of the finest nineteenth-century team cabinets in existence. Robert Edward Auctions is proud to have been chosen to document and offer this 1878 Boston Team George Wright Sporting Goods advertising cabinet card to the collecting community for the very first time.
SOLD FOR $27,000


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