Well, OK, it’s actually a photograph of the team. But what a photograph!
When an image of this just recently discovered Imperial Cabinet Photograph of the 1895 Cleveland Spiders - a team that includes Hall of Famers Cy Young, Jesse Burkett, and Bobby Wallace, as well as “Chief” Zimmer - arrived by email, we immediately recognized that this was an incredibly significant photo. All original Imperial Cabinet display photos of major league teams from the 1890s are extremely rare, but one featuring the 1895 Cleveland Spiders (and measuring 16 x 20 inches) is as good as it gets. Unfortunately, as can be seen below, when it was discovered at an estate sale in Ohio, it was found in two pieces.
image of photo in original condition as sent to REA by email
REA almost never has occasion to recommend, let alone oversee, any restoration project. It’s just something that we don’t get involved with. But this was a rare exception where we thought that restoration would be well worth the trouble, both economically for the consignor, and to provide the best service possible for buyers. Fortunately, there was no loss to the photograph. All of the parts were there. But putting it back together properly to museum standards would require a photo restoration expert. Paul Messier has for many years come very highly recommended to us by many advanced collectors and was chosen to reassemble the photo. It just came back and we are extremely pleased with the result:
Imperial Photo of 1895 Cleveland Spiders after restoration
We thought that collectors would appreciate seeing the “before” and “after” pictures. The cost was $1,200, which may sound like a lot, but we believe will prove to be a wise investment for our consignor, a noncollector who enjoys looking for hidden treasures at estate sales and who happened to stumble across this gem, in addition to allowing the photo to be properly preserved and dramatically improving its display value. This display photograph will be presented in REA’s spring 2013 auction. If you have museum-quality photographs that require restoration, Paul Messier can be contacted at www.paulmessier.com.
closeup detail of photo after restoration