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Lot # 1088 (of 1512)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1914 Providence Grays Team Photo with Babe Ruth

Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $4,500

Large-format photo capturing nineteen members of the 1914 Providence Grays, including Babe Ruth, who was in his first season of professional baseball. Ruth started his professional career at the age of nineteen with Jack Dunn's Baltimore Orioles in 1914. After being sold to the Red Sox on July 9th of that year, he made his major league debut two days later, on July 11th. Despite winning two of his first three starts, the Red Sox decided Ruth needed more seasoning and on August 5th sent him to down to Providence, where he finished the season. This photo captures Ruth during his short stint with Providence at the end of the year and is one of the earliest images of Ruth as a professional player. Also pictured are manager "Wild Bill" Donovan, Carl Mays, and Matty McIntyre. While this is a vintage photo, most likely produced prior to 1950, we do not believe that it originates from 1914. That opinion is also shared by noted photography expert David Cycleback, whose notarized letter of authenticity accompanies the piece. In his letter (which can be viewed on our website) Cycleback writes in part: "The photograph appears to have been made some time after 1914, but otherwise appears old and is not a modern reprint." Cycleback's conclusion is based upon a number of factors, including the absence of any optical brighteners in the paper, the thickness of the paper, the matte-textured reverse, and the fact that the photo displays signs of wear consistent with aging, such as light foxing and soiling. Also, we note that the photo displays a repaired vertical tear that extends border to border and runs through the two players pictured on the far right (one of whom is McIntyre). As most collectors know, original copies of this photo are exceedingly rare, and sell for tens of thousands of dollars. Only a few are known. While this photo does not date from 1914, we believe it dates from the 1920s or 1930s, and in terms of display value it is the equal of any original, especially with regard to clarity and contrast. It also measures 13 x 11 inches, which is the same size as the few known originals. Given the extreme rarity and cost of an original, this example represents an extremely rare, possibly unique, high-quality alternative for any collector wishing to acquire what is universally recognized as one of the most historically significant baseball photos of the early twentieth century. The photo, which is blank-backed, displays a few minor creases, as well as the aforementioned repaired tear and light foxing. Outstanding overall Excellent appearance. LOA from David Cycleback. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $4,500


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