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UPDATE: Circa 1868 Imperial Team Cabinet Photo - CLEVELAND FOREST CITYS! - From the Deacon White Collection!
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $8,400
REA has received additional information regarding this photo which confirms with certainty that it pictures the Forest Citys of Cleveland and that the player pictured standing, second from the left is indeed future Hall of Famer Deacon White (his real name was James Laurie White). A newspaper clipping, taken from the February 14, 1908, issue of the Cleveland Press, pictures this same team photo, above which is the headline “The Original Forest City Base Ball Club.” In addition to identifying each of the players along the base, the paper also notes that the pictured photo belongs to E. C. Luce and was gifted to him by the family of team captain Pikey Smith following Smith’s death. According to the paper, the players pictured here are, standing (L to R), Chas J. Sheffield, Jas. L. White, J. W. Clarke, and Arthur E. Burt, and, seated (L to R), Geo. W. Stockly, A. J. "Pikey" Smith (capt.), Wm. P. Johnson, Harvey Brown, and Leonard C. Hanna (brother of Mark Hanna, a former US Senator and political advisor/manager of President William McKinley).
Original Imperial cabinet photograph of a circa 1860s ball club. Nine players are pictured, all in their matching bib-front jerseys, as they pose together in a formal studio setting. Three period bats, a ball, and four player caps (which appear to feature a "star" design on the top) are also on display. The only other example of this photo that we have seen appeared in a special pictorial issue of the National Pastime (published by the Society for American Baseball Research, Spring, 1984), where the editors John Thorn (the Official Historian of Major League Baseball) and Mark Rucker speculated over the identification of the team: "Is it a Rockford team of 1866 or '67, with Ross Barnes second from the right in the top row and Al Spalding seated at the extreme left? Or is that A. R. 'Pikey' Smith, later of the Forest Citys of Cleveland, seated beside 'Spalding'?" The same photo pictured in the National Pastime later sold as Lot 183 in the 1999 Sotheby's auction of the legendary Barry Halper Collection, where the identity of the team was still in question. While we do not have any definitive answers regarding the team or players pictured, its provenance might help shed some light on the matter. This photo originates from the personal collection of recently elected Hall of Fame catcher Deacon White and was one of a number of items from his collection that came to auction in 2006 (all were consigned directly by the White family). At the time of the sale, the auction house (Hunts) identified the player standing in the center of the photo as Deacon White. The auction house also speculated that this was the Cleveland Forest City club, because White began play with the team in 1869. We will leave the identification of the players pictured here to others. We suspect that additional research will be fruitful in identifying the team and players with certainty. However, if that is Deacon White, this photo obviously dates to the earliest period of his baseball career, which began in 1866, when he formed his own team in Canton, Ohio. It would also give further credence to Thorn and Rucker's conjecture that the player seated with the ball might by "Pikey" Smith. Regardless, this remains an extraordinary and rare team photo dating from the earliest days of our national pastime. The photo (13 x 10 inches on a 17 x 14-inch mount) displays outstanding clarity and both the photo and mount remain in Excellent to Mint condition. Matted and framed to total dimensions of 21 x 18 inches. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).SOLD FOR $8,400
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