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1886-1888 New York Giants Issue: Danny Richardson
Starting Bid - $2,500, Sold For - $4,500
Presented is an exceptional newly discovered example of Danny Richardson from the extremely rare 1886-1888 New York Giants issue. Not much is known about this set, and to date, only four examples (including this one) have surfaced. Their extreme rarity and the lack of information about the issuer has resulted in this set receiving little attention, but we believe it to be one of the earliest nineteenth-century baseball tobacco-card issues, and very likely dates from 1886.
The only formal hobby reference to the existence of this set can be found in Lew Lipset's The Encyclopedia of Baseball Cards (originally published in 1983), where Lipset depicts a sample of Gerhardt from this set under the heading "Cinderella" Cards. In his discussion of the Gerhardt card, Lipset describes it as "similar in size to N690, large N175's and Four Base Hits," but notes the card "carries no advertising and no clue is given to its origin or purpose."
We know that the card is part of a set as evidenced by the existence of multiple players, and we now know, because the offered card is the second confirmed example of Richardson, that multiple cards were produced for each player. It is highly likely that this set is a tobacco issue because of its striking resemblance to other period issues, including Kalamazoo Bats, large Gypsy Queens, and Four Base Hits, as noted by Lipset and as a quick glance at the style and design confirms. The same image of Richardson that appears on this card is also used on a New York Giants team cabinet from 1886 and his E223 G & B Chewing Gum card issued in 1888. It is possible that since the cards do not feature advertising and depict (to date) only members of the New York Giants (Deasley, Gerhardt, and Richardson) that the set was issued either by the team or a related photo studio. We think it is more likely that it is a tobacco issue featuring only New York Giants players. Whatever the true origins and purpose, this is undoubtedly among the rarest nineteenth-century type cards in existence.
While the offered card would be appreciated for its incredible rarity in any condition, it is extremely fortuitous that it has survived in as remarkable condition as it has for more than 125 years. The photo contrast on this example is extraordinary. It is bright, crisp, and clean. The blank reverse is flawless, a rarity in its own right as so many cards from this era are plagued with paper loss, album residue, or writing. A tiny surface crease in the top right corner is the only flaw to speak of on this example, which has been graded and encapsulated VG/EX+ 55 by SGC (submitted by REA). The other known example of Richardson was designated "Authentic" by SGC.
This example was discovered last year by our consignor at a flea market in Pennsylvania mixed in with a variety of period CDVs and photos. While he is not a baseball collector by trade, he is well versed in antiques and art and recognized this piece as substantial enough to take a chance on and investigate further. We are glad he did! This is a tremendous newly discovered example, by far the finest of the four cards known to date from this set, and one that would be a significant highlight in even the most advanced world-class nineteenth-century or type-card collection. Reserve $2,500. Estimate (open).
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