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Lot # 61 (of 1389)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1887 N690 Kalamazoo Bats Milligan and Larkin, Athletics - Extreme Rarity

Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $3,000

Graded GOOD 30 by SGC. Extremely desirable double-player pose Kalamazoo Bats tobacco card featuring catcher Jocko Milligan tagging out left fielder Henry Larkin. This is one of only three examples of this card ever graded by SGC (two GOOD 30 and one EX+ 70). Kalamazoo Bats is a fascinating set. While all Giants and Mets portrait cards are incredibly rare, a few Philadelphia player cards are also inexplicably rare, and this card certainly falls into that category. In fact, in terms of rarity, this card is as rare or rarer than some of the New York portrait cards! It is also a particularly interesting two-player Kalamazoo Bats card. This card features incredible background detail, one of the many qualities for which the Kalamazoo Bats set is especially noted, but the background of this particular card has an extraordinary characteristic: the extremely misplaced background canopy. Many Kalamazoo Bats use a background canopy, which is part of the charm of the set, to create a great-looking outdoorsy background, but in this example the canopy covers only 70% of the background, accidentally exposing the wood slats which support the canopy and the cinder blocks of the building in the immediate background. A close look at this card's photograph renders it somewhat comical, as the illusion that is supposed to be created by the canopy background is shattered by the background error, totally undermining the very serious acting efforts of Milligan and Larkin. They look like buffoons! Perhaps this image was originally intended to be cropped differently, much further to the left, or maybe it was even originally intended to be a photograph for a vertical card, but the result is one of the most amusing and ridiculous photographs to ever appear on a nineteenth-century baseball card. We have wondered if it is possible that the extreme rarity of this card is somehow related to the background error. Perhaps when the error was noticed they stopped issuing this card? We will probably never know for sure, but we assume there is some reasonable explanation for why this particular card is especially scarce, and can't help but note that the card is very distinctive in a particularly interesting and unusual way. This is an extremely presentable card, with superb contrast, even rounding to the corners, and light creasing, which contributes to the modest assigned grade. The only other N690 example of Milligan and Larkin we have ever offered appeared in REA's May 2008 auction (Lot #42). That example, in superior condition and at the time the only example known, sold for $17,625. This is an outstanding nineteenth-century rarity from the fascinating and unusual Kalamazoo Bats set. SOLD FOR $3,000


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