1868-1871 Baseball Team Card Find Lands at REA!!!

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized

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Find includes 1868 Brooklyn Atlantics and TWO 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings Team Cards

Universally recognized as among the most exciting and historically significant nineteenth-century baseball cards are those featuring prominent teams issued in the late 1860s and early 1870s. Dating from both the dawn of professional baseball and the dawn of baseball cards (many of which were issued by Peck & Snyder Sporting Goods), team CDVs and trade cards from this era are almost nonexistent and the few survivors almost always surface one at a time. In the world of circa-1870 baseball team cards, each card is of enormous historical significance and the discovery of every card is a “collecting miracle!”

When we received an email recently describing not one, or even two, but EIGHT circa-1870 baseball team cards, including the 1868 Brooklyn Atlantics and two featuring the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings (the first professional baseball team), we immediately recognized that if these cards were authentic this would be one of the largest and most exciting pre-1900 team card finds in the history of collecting. Images soon verified that the find was real. Within days the cards were in hand! The eight baseball team cards were just part of the collection, which included a total of approximately 130 circa 1870 CDVs. The other cards featured images of various subjects including politicians (such as 1868 Democratic presidential candidates Seymour-Blair, 1872 Democratic candidate Horace Greeley, and a card featuring the 1872 Republican presidential candidate  Ulysses Grant with running mate Henry Wilson), famous people (such as P.T. Barnum and Charles Stratton), boxers (such as Jem Mace), actresses, musical and literary figures, and generals.

All eight of the baseball cards are of remarkable historical significance. Included are newly discovered examples of: 1) 1868 “The Atlantic Nine” Peck & Snyder Advertising Trade Card (the earliest of all Peck & Snyder team cards, one of only several examples known, and one of the most important of all nineteenth-century baseball card rarities. The 1868 Atlantics defeated the Red Stockings in 1868, and also broke the Red Stockings’ winning streak in 1870. To the best of our knowledge, this is the very first example to ever come to auction); 2&3) 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings CDV (two examples of one of card collecting’s most important cards, one of particularly special note as it features an advertisement for Peck & Snyder Sporting Goods on the reverse); 4) 1870 New York Mutuals Peck & Snyder Advertising Trade Card; 5) 1870 Philadelphia Athletics BBC Team CDV with AJ Reach; 6) 1870 Forest City’s of Rockford CDV with Al Spalding; 7) 1870 Chicago White Stockings Peck & Snyder Advertising Trade Card; 8) 1871 Chicago White Stockings F. A. Pierce & Co. Advertising Trade Card.

Each of the eight baseball team cards will be offered individually. The balance of the collection featuring non-baseball subjects has also been consigned and will be offered as a single lot. Interestingly, these cards have been consigned by a family who are not baseball collectors at all, but are general hobbyists who (in their own words) just “spent a lot of time taking short trips checking out antique shops for personal enjoyment.” They bought these cards at an antique shop in Charlvoix, Michigan decades ago and they have been sitting in a wooden cigar box ever since! It is interesting to note that several of the baseball cards have paper labels affixed on the reverse that clearly indicate these cards were sold by commercial establishments in Chicago that long ago offered these cards for outright sale (for example: “E. Lovejoy 187 South Clark St, Chicago” who, as noted on one label, offered for sale photos of “Celebrities for the Album”).

Collecting CDV and trade card photos for mounting in albums was a very popular pastime in the 1860s and 1870s. As photographs of famous people and places from around the world were able to be produced economically, it was only natural for collectors to want to assemble collections of images of all types including photos of the most celebrated baseball teams of the era. Based on the cards and materials accompanying them (including notes referencing the cards dated 1873), it is very likely that this collection was originally assembled in the years between 1868 to 1873, with at least some cards purchased from vendors that specialized in offering CDVs and trade cards for sale to collectors (not unlike the sale of picture postcards by a postcard store in more modern times). In other words, it appears that examples of some of the rarest and earliest baseball cards ever issued (including some originally issued by Peck & Snyder) that are included in this collection were originally purchased in approximately 1870 at one of the earliest baseball card stores!

Sure, there’s a little speculation involved. But we think this is exactly what the affixed store labels on the backs of several of the baseball cards in the group suggest and we found this very interesting. There has long been debate among collectors about what is the earliest baseball card. This collection may spark new debate about what is the earliest card store! (We always thought it was Goodwin Goldfadden’s store in California which we believe dates back to at least the 1940s. Maybe not!) Either way, this is a remarkable nineteenth-century card find, and it is a pleasure to share this early auction preview.

The cards above will appear in REA’s Spring 2012 auction.

Copies of the 2011 REA full-color premium catalog are still available and are free of charge. To learn more about Robert Edward Auctions, receive a complimentary copy of the catalog or inquire about consignments, visit http://robertedwardauctions.com/. Robert Edward Auctions is currently assembling its next sale. For further information, contact Robert Edward Auctions, PO Box 7256, Watchung, NJ 07069 or call (908) 226-9900.     

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