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1887 Detroit Wolverines Imperial Cabinet Photograph (Kalamazoo Bats Team Card Image)
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $3,600
Spectacular imperial cabinet photograph of the 1887 World Champion Detroit Wolverines. The studio photograph captures the following sixteen team members posing together in uniform: Bill Watkins (Mgr., formal attire), Dan Brouthers, Ned Hanlon, Sam Thompson, Deacon White, Lady Baldwin, Charlie Bennett, Fatty Briody, Fred Dunlap, Charlie Ganzel, Pretzels Getzien, Hardy Richardson, Jack Rowe, Billy Shindle, Larry Twitchell, and Stump Wiedman. All of the players are identified in print along the base of the mount. Also displayed on the mount is the caption "Detroit Base Ball Club. Season 1887/Champions of the League," and the photographer's credit, "Tomlinson, Detroit." This is a famous image of the World Champion Wolverines and one that was also used for the club's 1887 N693 Kalamazoo Bats team card. While any and all team cabinet photos from the 1880s are scarce, imperial team cabinets are exceedingly rare, especially those capturing World Championship clubs. This is the only example of an 1887 Detroit Wolverines imperial team cabinet we have ever seen and its size (photo measures 18.75 x 13.5 inches; mount measures 20 x 16 inches) makes it an extremely impressive nineteenth-century display piece.
The Detroit Wolverines were one of the National League's top clubs during the late 1880s. In 1887 the team captured its first and only pennant in franchise history and then went on to defeat the American Association champion St. Louis Browns ten games to five in what is still the longest World Series ever played: a best-of-fifteen series played in ten different cities. Detroit actually clinched the Series 8-3 after game eleven; however, the teams played out the remaining four games for the fans (and the gate receipts, no doubt), and the Wolverines are officially credited today with a ten games to five World Series victory. As strong as the club was in 1887, Detroit was not a strong market at the time and the franchise, which began in 1881, folded after the 1888 season.
Both the photo and mount have been professionally cleaned, mainly to address a number of stains and foxing (some elements of each are still visible). The border areas have also been retouched by light airbrushing. There have been minor color enhancements to portions of the printed captions, and professional restoration has addressed a number of border tears and corner chips. The photo displays light contrast, but exceptional clarity, as well as minor toning. Prior framing and/or matting once covered the border areas of the photo. As a result, the photo displays a slightly darkened border area (approximately two inches wide all the way around). A small chip that had been repaired in the upper right corner of the mount has broken loose, but the chip accompanies the piece and can be reattached by a qualified restorer. Heavy toning and a few vintage pencil notations are visible on the reverse of the mount. Despite the minor flaws (which are actually of little consequence with reference to display but are detailed for technical accuracy), the display value of the imperial cabinet is absolutely equivalent to that of Vg-Ex (or better!) and it remains an extraordinary large-format museum-quality nineteenth-century baseball photo, ideal for display, and distinguished by both its size and historical significance. SOLD FOR $3,600
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