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Circa 1885 Haverly Team Cabinet Card (California League) with Direct Family Provenance!
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $2,015
Rare cabinet card, circa 1885, picturing eleven members of the San Francisco Haverlys, a California League team. The photograph captures the club in a formal studio setting, with ten of the players dressed in full uniform bearing the team name "Haverlys" across the chest. Ideally, renowned baseball historian and facial-recognition expert Mark Fimoff has identified nine of the eleven players pictured here (left to right): Standing - Back Row: George Hanley – Eddie Bennett - Pete Sweeney – (unknown) – Fred Stein – Horatio Lawton. Seated - Middle Row: Lew Hardie – Henry Harris (mgr) – William Incell. Lying- Front Row: Jack Donahue (likely) – unknown. Adding to the appeal of this photo is the fact that six period bats are visible in the photo, as is a baseball held by one of the seated players. The photographer's credit appears in print on the reverse: "W. I. Williams & Co./Photographers/914 Market Street/In Baldwin Hotel Block/San Francisco, Cal."
This cabinet card comes with the extraordinarily special provenance of having been consigned directly by the family of Pete Sweeney. It is accompanied by typed-signed letter that reads, in part, "My great uncle, Pete Sweeney, is in this photograph. The photo was handed down from my aunt, his niece, to me. A handwritten pencil notation on the reverse, written by a former family member, reads "Pete Sweeney/Brother of Mary/Sweeney Cody/Back Row - 3rd from/left/Pete had a son, but he had/no children." An additional pencil notation lists the date "July 26, 1926." Together with a 1924 San Francisco newspaper clipping featuring this very image of the Haverly team.
The Haverlys were a member of the California League from 1883 through 1892. Sweeney was a member of the Haverlys between the years 1884 and 1885 (no Haverly rosters could be found for the years 1886 and 1887), but by 1888 he was with Troy of the International Association. He then enjoyed a brief three-year major league career, playing in both the National League and American Association. Given the information we have, this photo most likely dates between the years 1884 and 1887. California League team cabinets from the 1880s are extremely rare and this example is no exception. This is only the second example of this particular cabinet we have ever seen (the first was featured as Lot 89 in our May 2013 auction, where it realized a final sale price of $3,555). It is both an extremely desirable nineteenth-century baseball cabinet and a historically significant photograph documenting the rich tradition of early professional baseball in California. The mount (6.75 x 4.25 inches) has been trimmed to its current dimensions, with the trim also affecting the top border of the photo (no player images are affected). An "x" has been lightly written in pencil on Sweeney's image. Without reference to the trim or pencil mark, the cabinet remains in Excellent condition, with the photo displaying exceptional clarity. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000+. SOLD FOR $2,015
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