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1888 John Clarkson Conly Studios Photo League Schedule
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $2,252
This exceedingly rare National League schedule for the season of 1888 features an actual 2 x 4-inch photograph of Hall of Famer John Clarkson on the front and has a design and appearance similar to some of the rarest and most desirable of all nineteenth-century baseball-card issues. This piece is actually far rarer than even the rarest nineteenth-century baseball sample cards, with only three or four examples known to exist. All feature John Clarkson. Issued jointly as a promotional piece by the well-known Boston photography studio of Conly and the printing firm of Alfred Mudge & Son, the piece, at first glance, resembles a fold-over scorecard from the era. However, when the two sturdy card-like pages comprising the design are opened, the interior displays not line-up cards, but the complete National League schedule for 1888. Conly Studio's copyright notice is printed directly under the mounted Clarkson portrait photo, and the front cover prominently features the company names of both Conly and Boston printer Alfred Mudge & Son. The back cover again displays the names of each firm, along with a calendar for the whole year, a listing of Boston's home dates, and the dates for a number of local Ivy League college baseball games. The Conly advertising text below Clarkson's portrait ("Photo. Copyright, By Conly, 1888") is so similar to the lettering of S. F. Hess cards of the same year, that we believe this suggests that the S. F. Hess cards were perhaps also produced by Conly and/or Mudge. In addition to its remarkably high production quality (this item has to be seen to be believed, it is so well made), extraordinary appearance, great display value, and extreme rarity, this piece is also exceptional in terms of condition. The Clarkson photo is in Near Mint condition with perfect clarity and contrast. This has always been one of our favorite 1880s baseball memorabilia items. It has the presence of an extraordinary card rarity, is extremely substantial, but is different from any other item of the era. No set of cards is identical in size or design to this Clarkson photo, but if there were, the set would be one of the most highly prized of all pre-1900 card issues. As a point of reference, this very item appeared as Lot 80 in REA's May 2013 auction, where it realized a final sales price of $2,962. It has been consigned directly by the purchaser, who is in the process of reorganizing his collection. Prior to that, the only other example of this extraordinary rarity that we have ever handled appeared as Lot 1175 in our May 2008 auction, where it realized a final sales price of $4,993. We personally think that both examples were great bargains. This is an amazing item that due to its great rarity perhaps has not been fully appreciated by collectors. (With only a few examples known, few have had the opportunity to see this piece in person; it is extremely impressive.) The schedule (3.75 x 6 inches), which is printed on heavy stock, has only a few light surface blemishes on the front and back covers, and two tiny areas of light discoloration on the interior. However, none of these minor flaws detract in the least from the piece's extraordinary visual appeal and it grades Excellent overall. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $2,252
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