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1905 W601 Sporting Life Detroit Tigers Team Composite: Ty Cobb Rookie!
Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $1,320
This 1905 Detroit Tigers W601 Sporting Life team composite is of extraordinary historical note due to its inclusion of Ty Cobb, who made his major league debut on August 30, 1905. As such, it is one of the earliest images in existence of Cobb as a member of the Tigers and predates his rookie card by one or two years (Cobb's true rookie card is often debated by collectors, but all of the candidates were issued after 1905). Being a larger-format issue, the W601 Sporting Life team composite is not defined as a traditional card by most collectors, but all would agree this is by far the earliest promotional issue featuring Ty Cobb! Cobb, who was only eighteen years old at the time, appears in the lower right corner of the composite and, like all of the other players, is identified in print below his image. Included among the remaining eighteen team members are Sam Crawford, William Armour (Mgr.), Wild Bill Donovan, Germany Schaefer, Bobby Lowe, George Mullin, and Matty McIntyre. These Sporting Life team composites, printed on heavy enamel paper and issued by the Sporting Life newspaper, were available to fans either by individual purchase (for ten cents) or as a complete set in a bound volume. The offered example was obviously obtained by the former method, as it does not feature any notebook holes along the left border (which it would if issued bound). The piece displays a number of moderate tears which have been addressed by professional restoration, as well as a few small edge tears that have not been restored. Light toning is evident along the border areas from the piece having once been framed and there are remnants of mounting tape along the top edge of the reverse. A very slight, extremely insignificant trim apparently has been made to the large blank margins to accommodate previous framing (as it measures 13 x 13-inches as opposed to the catalog-listed 13 x 14-inch dimensions). Despite the flaws, which are noticeable but not obtrusive, the central image area containing the portraits is free of any significant defects and presents as Excellent. As a point of reference, the only other example of this scarce composite we have ever offered, in Good condition, appeared as Lot 95 in our October 2014 auction, where it realized $2,160. Reserve $300. Estimate $1,000++. SOLD FOR $1,320
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