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1879 Chicago White Stockings "California Tour" Team Cabinet with Cap Anson and Al Spalding - Newly Discovered Example!
Starting Bid - $5,000, Sold For - $42,000
Exceedingly rare team cabinet card capturing twelve members of the Chicago White Stockings' "California Tour" team in 1879, including Cap Anson and A. G. Spalding. This is the first example of this extraordinary Chicago team cabinet we have ever seen or handled. The formal studio photograph pictures the club posing together in uniform during a stop in San Francisco. The text along the base of the photo reads "The Chicago White Stockings/California Team, 1879." Each player, along with his respective position, is identified in print below the caption: "T. J. Carey, SS., Frank Flint C., E. N Williamson 3B., A Dalrymple L. F., G. F. Gore R.F., Jas. McCormick P., A. C. Anson, Capt. 1st B., J. L. Quest 2B., A. G. Spalding Secretary, L Corcoran Change P., W. W. Kelly Manager, J. J. Remsen CF." The photographer's credit, "Bradley & Rulofson - San Francisco, Cal." appears along the base of the photo, the edge of the mount, and on the reverse. It should be noted that during this postseason tour the White Stockings supplemented their regular season lineup with a few players from other clubs, which is the reason that Carey (Cleveland), McCormick (Cleveland), and Corcoran (Springfield; National Association), who later played with Chicago, are pictured here. Spalding had retired from baseball in 1878 but made the trip while serving as the club's secretary. Three years later he became president of the team.
This card was part of a small but very exciting new find of three nineteenth-century cabinet cards that came to us last fall. (Two of the cards, an 1878 Boston team cabinet and an 1879 White Stockings team cabinet, sold in our fall auction.) All three cards had for decades been in the possession of a noncollector's family. The only time these cards have even had a "brush" with the modern collecting world was in 1989, when members of the family, curious as to what the cards were and if they had any value, decided to have them appraised. Because they lived in California, they brought them to Richard Wolffers Auctions in San Francisco and were told by a representative of the company that the cards were valuable and worth thousands of dollars. At that time, the owner decided not to sell them and instead gave them to her grandson, a young 8-year old collector who was passionate about baseball, with instructions to keep them in a safe-deposit box at the bank. The grandson, our consignor, has now decided that the time has come to sell them.
As noted earlier, we have never before handled or even seen this particular cabinet card before, but the photographic image appearing on the cabinet card is known, as we have seen it used on the website Threads of the Game (http://www.threadsofourgame.com/1879-chicago/). With regard to the photo, the website credits Tom Shieber, senior curator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, as providing specific information about the White Stocking's California Tour. Shieber speculates that this photo was taken around October 2, 1879. Specifically, he found a newspaper article, dated November 2, 1879, that reported “the White Stockings have been photographed by an enterprising California artist.” Shieber also notes that another period article reports that Spalding returned back to Chicago on November 11th, so the photo had to have been taken prior to his leaving the team.
The photo, which presents with exceptional clarity, displays a heavy diagonal crease in the upper left corner that extends into the mount and there is some light soiling along the right border of the mount. Aside from those two flaws (neither of which affect the main image), the card is in Excellent to Mint condition. This is a remarkable cabinet card in all respects and one that would be a significant highlight in even the most advanced nineteenth-century collection. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open).
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