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Lot # 2 (of 873)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1855 Alexander Cartwright Daguerreotype Photo

Starting Bid - $7,500.00, Sold For - $20,700.00

Quarter-plate Daguerreotype photograph of Alexander Joy Cartwright (1820-1892), measuring approximately 3.5 x 4.5 inches and housed in a period thermoplastic photographic case, is one of the most significant baseball photographs in existence. The photograph pictures Alexander Cartwright, circa 1855, with an unidentified gentleman, who has been tentatively identified by the Cartwright Family as prominent businessman Mr. Kerr of Honolulu. Alexander Joy Cartwright was one of the original Knickerbockers. He is widely recognized as the individual who can most truly lay claim to being "The Man Who Invented Baseball." In recognition of his great contributions to the game, Cartwright was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939. Any photograph of Cartwright is extremely significant. A Daguerreotype, of which this is one of only three known, is by far the earliest and most important type of photograph of Cartwright, which could possibly exist. Daguerreotypes were the very earliest type of photographic process. Most daguerreotypes date from the mid-1840s to the 1850s, at which time they were largely replaced by the more economical Ambrotype photographic process, which in turn was soon replaced by the tintype and albumen carte de visite photograph. Daguerreotypes present a reverse image produced on a silver-coated copper plate. They are extremely easy to identify, in large part because the image is printed on a silver surface, giving it an almost magical mirror-like quality. This is one of only three Daguerreotypes of Cartwright known to exist, and all three (as well as the Ambrotype of Cartwright which follows this lot) share the same extraordinary provenience. In 1849, shortly following Cartwright's great contributions to the formation of the Knickerbockers BBC and the earliest formal rules of baseball, Cartwright traveled cross country from New York to California, drawn by a taste for adventure and the lure of the Gold Rush. Shortly after his arrival in California, Cartwright sailed to Hawaii, where he remained for the rest of his life as one of Hawaii's most prominent citizens. In the early to mid-1850s, he sat with a friend for this quarter-plate daguerreotype photograph. When Cartwright had the honor of meeting the Queen of Hawaii, he presented several photographs to her, including this daguerreotype. They remained with the Royal Family until 1915, when Cartwright's grandson, Bruce Cartwright, traveled to Hawaii to document and popularize his grandfather's great accomplishments. The Cartwright Family was incensed by the Mills Commissions' total lack of recognition of Alexander Cartwright's significant contributions to baseball, in favor of "The Doubleday Myth." When Bruce Cartwright met with then queen Liloukalani, she presented to him the photographs that Alexander Cartwright had long ago given to the Royal Family. The back of the copper mat of the daguerreotype photograph has the following period inscription, in the hand of Bruce Cartwright: "Presented to Bruce Cartwright, Jr. by Queen Liloukalani Dec 14, 1915 A.J. Cartwright, Jr. near left side facing picture with velvet coat collar." These photographs remained with the Cartwright Family until 1991, when their archive of family material was sold privately. To put into perspective the significance of this early daguerreotype photograph, the offered photograph is not just one of only three Cartwright daguerreotypes known to exist; it is one of only three daguerreotypes known to exist of any subject which can verifiably be identified as a baseball subject. The fact that the subject is the true Father of Baseball, original Knickerbocker Alexander Joy Cartwright, taken just a few years following his most important contributions to the origins of the game of baseball, makes this one of the most historically significant baseball images in existence. The fact that its provenance can be traced directly to the Cartwright Family, and its history of ownership relates so directly to the controversies of the origins of the game, and Cartwright's role in this history, adds an additional dimension to its already extraordinary significance. Of the three Cartwright daguerreotypes in existence, one is the centerpiece of the premier nineteenth-century baseball collection in the world, and will never be sold. The second, a smaller sixth-plate image, was sold at public auction in 1996, at which time it realized $19,250. The offered daguerreotype is a far superior example, both in terms of size (the larger quarter-plate size is more desirable than the smaller sixth-plate size), image quality, and the fact that this example features period hand-coloring accents (primarily to the shirts and watches), a time-consuming artistic process reserved by daguerreotype artists for only their most elaborate and important commissions. This extraordinary original daguerreotype photograph is one of the very few photographic images in existence of Alexander Joy Cartwright, whose place in history as "The Man Who Invented Baseball" is secure among scholars, if not among fans of classic American Folklore. One of the most important baseball photographs in existence, deserving of prominent display in the most advanced collection or museum setting. In Excellent condition, with replaced glass. Accompanied by a signed letter of provenance from Cartwright Family matriarch, Anne Cartwright. Reserve $7,500. Estimate $15,000/$25,000. SOLD FOR $20,700.00


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