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Circa 1900 Providence Grays Team Cabinet Card Commemorating the 1884 World Championship
Starting Bid - $100, Sold For - $960
Presented is an extremely interesting cabinet card depicting the twelve members of the 1884 Providence Grays, baseball's first World Champions. If this piece looks familiar, it should! It was originally offered in REA's 2011 auction, where it appeared as lot #23 (realizing $2,644). At that time it was described as an 1885 cabinet card produced in 1885. Further research following its sale revealed that while it was a great card, a more accurate dating was slightly more recent, likely circa 1900. With the blessing of the buyer, we insisted on the return of the card (for a full refund), and we have kept it in our offices propped up on display for several years as a reminder to never stop learning and to always remain vigilant about the consignments we accept. Throughout the years, visitors to our office have noticed the piece on display and commented about its tremendous visual appeal and extremely high-quality appearance. We have decided we have had this piece displayed in our office long enough, and it is time to reoffer it, with the new information documented for posterity, and with a nominal reserve. We are confident that, though the card will not have the quite the same value as if it dated from 1885, it will be appreciated for what it is, and for its superb display value and historical significance.
The original auction description is provided below, with only a few changes made to reflect the new information regarding the dating of the piece:
Extremely rare photographic team cabinet card depicting the following twelve members of the 1884 Providence Grays, baseball's first World Champions: Frank Bancroft (manager), "Old Hoss" Radbourn, Barney Gilligan, Cliff Carroll, Jack Farrell, Sandy Nava, Paul Radford, Jerry Denny, Ed Conley, Joe Start, Arthur Irwin, and Paul Hines. Each of the players, dressed in formal attire, is depicted in a bust-length image and has been identified in print directly below his respective photo (Conley's name has been misspelled "Conelly"). The caption "Champions 'The Providence Grays' 1885" has been ornately printed along the base of the photo. This team composite was obviously compiled early in 1885, as both Nava and Conley did not play with Providence that year. (Nava joined the Baltimore Orioles of the American Association in 1885 and Conley's only season of pro ball was with Providence in 1884.) This is not the first time we have encountered this rare photo. The only other example we have seen (sold at REA in 1995) originally belonged, interestingly, to manager Frank Bancroft. It would be reasonable to assume that all the players on the team also received a copy of the photo. The 1884 National League champion Providence Grays will forever be immortalized in baseball history by virtue of their victory over the New York Metropolitans, champions of the American Association, in the first World Series ever played. The season also marked the high point for Hall of Fame pitcher "Hoss" Radbourn, who set a Major League record with fifty-nine wins. Radbourn continued his success in the World Series, winning all three games in Providence's sweep of the Mets. That historic victory resulted in Sporting Life declaring Providence the "Champions of the World," a title which soon became customary for all future World Series winners. Another custom taken from that first World Series, which is evident here on this cabinet, was for the previous year's World Series winner to be referred to as "Champions" throughout the current season. As noted above, this is only the second example of this significant team cabinet we have ever seen. The edges of the very plain cardboard mount have been very slightly trimmed (confirmed by comparison with the example from Frank Bancroft) but this in no way affects the presentation or display value of the composite photograph, which is in exceptional condition. The mount (4 x 7.125 inches) has a couple light creases in the lower left and upper right corners, and otherwise has an Excellent appearance. Usually a photographer's mount for such an extremely high quality photo would be of better stock (such as found on Old Judge cabinet cards, for example), but in this case it is a cheap plain mounting board. The photograph was obviously very well cared for over the years. Aside from just some minor surface wear, primarily in the lower left quadrant, and light toning, the photo (3.5 x 6.375 inches) is in Excellent to Mint condition. Reserve $100. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $960
(Click the smaller thumbnails to the left and right (if any) to cycle through each photo in the gallery of images for this lot.)