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1889 Spalding World Tour Display Photograph
Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $19,720.00
Stunning original large-format display photograph (10.5 x 14 inches), taken by photographer P. Sebah, capturing the World Tourist players in uniform posing on the Sphinx in the desert in Egypt on February 9, 1889, during Albert Spalding's celebrated 1888/89 World Tour. This photograph is the most famous image from the tour, and one of the finest and most famous of all nineteenth-century photographs, having been reproduced in countless books and periodicals over the years. While it cannot be stated with certainty, this extremely rare photo was most likely removed from a World Tour photo album that was presented by Spalding to the participants following the trip. Only one complete tour album is known to have survived, with photos neatly mounted on thick cardboard pages. This was George Wright's album, which appeared as Lot #671 in REA's April 2005 auction, and which included four photographs with players. Presumably each player received an album, and only a few additional original separate plates such as this offered example are known to exist. The name of the photographer ("P. Sebah") appears in white lettering along the lower right. Also lettered in white, along the lower left, is the notation "Spalding American Base Ball Party. Chicago vs. All America at the Sphinx. Feb. 9 1889." The 1888/89 World Tour was the idea of sporting goods magnate Albert Spalding, who sought to introduce and popularize the American game of baseball to the four corners of the world. The Tourists, who were comprised of members of the Chicago White Stockings and an all-star group of players from both the National League and American Association, traveled to five different continents and visited fourteen different countries during their five month journey. Among the notables who participated in the tour were Cap Anson, John Ward, George Wright, Ed Hanlon, Ned Williamson, George Van Haltren, and James Ryan. In World Tourist James Ryan's journal of the Tour, his entry for February 9, 1889 reads in part "Today is a gala day for us for a visit has been arranged to the Sphinx and Pyramids...We then had our photographs taken sitting upon the face and shoulders of the Sphinx and descending to the plain introduced the game of baseball to the Sheiks and children of Isreal upon the desert sands of Egypt. Five innings satisfied us for the fine sand blowing into our eyes made them sore so we mounted our camels and donkeys and rode home to Cairo." This, of course, is the photograph to which Ryan refers. Museum-caliber and one of only several examples known to exist. The photograph has outstanding contrast and is in Near Mint condition. Beautifully matted and framed to total dimensions of 18.5 x 22.5 inches. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000/$4,000. SOLD FOR $19,720.00
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