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Circa 1865 Alexander Cartwright CDV
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $3,600
Exceedingly rare CDV of Alexander Joy Cartwright, one of the "Founding Fathers" of baseball. This image captures Cartwright circa 1865, at which time he was a prominent Hawaiian businessman. The photographer's credit, "H. L. Chase, Honolulu, H. I.," appears on the reverse. This is one of only a few known examples of this CDV and it comes with a fascinating and unique provenance: Our consignor, a longtime collector of Hawaiian photos, discovered this piece in a box of unidentified nineteenth-century photos while attending an antique show decades ago. At the time of its purchase, neither he nor the seller knew the identity of the gentleman pictured here. His only interest in it at the time was that it was Hawaiian in origin, so he bought it. Years later, his brother, who lives in Hawaii, was at the Bishop Museum (the largest museum in Hawaii) looking at a book related to the Royal Family when he noticed another example of this very same photo in the book. The image was identified as Alexander Cartwright and the book cited the date of the photo as 1865. (Cartwright was a friend of the Royal Family, especially Queen Emma, and he handled most of their private business affairs.) Excitedly, he phoned his brother and told him the good news. Our consignor then did something that, many years ago, would have been judged perfectly natural: he wrote Cartwright's name and the date of the photograph on the back of the card in pencil. He also included the dollar amount of "$2,000," which is what he believed the CDV to be worth at the time. He did this so that if anything ever happened to him, his family would have some understanding of its significance and estimate of value should they sell it.
Despite that minor condition anomaly, it should be noted that the photo is in superb condition and any original photograph of Cartwright is extremely rare and significant. A modest total of approximately ten original images of Cartwright are known to exist, including several daguerreotype and ambrotype photographs. In 1849, shortly following Cartwright's great contributions to the formation of the Knickerbockers BBC and the earliest formal rules of baseball, Cartwright traveled cross-country from New York to California, drawn by a taste for adventure and the lure of the Gold Rush. Shortly after his arrival in California, Cartwright sailed to Hawaii, where he remained for the rest of his life as one of the country's most prominent citizens. In Hawaii, Cartwright was very active in many organizations and founded both the library of Hawaii and the fire department. Cartwright died in Hawaii in 1892. Today, Cartwright is widely recognized as the individual who can most truly lay claim to being "The Man Who Invented Baseball." In recognition of his great contributions to the game, Cartwright was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939.
The CDV (2.5 x 4 inches) displays minor surface wear, including foxing and a few tiny scratches in the area of Cartwright's beard. The aforementioned pencil notations appear on the reverse: "Alexander Joy Cartwright/Father of American Baseball/1865/$2,000." There is an additional pencil notation at the base of the reverse that reads "T. 1. 90." (meaning unknown). In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. SOLD FOR $3,600
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