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1887 Mike "King" Kelly Gigantic Imperial Cabinet Photograph
Starting Bid - $2,500.00, Sold For - $46,400.00
Imperial studio cabinet card photograph of the legendary Mike "King" Kelly, featured in a striking pose with bat at side, measuring an incredible 13.75 x 8.75 inches. The image at a glance is familiar to all nineteenth-century scholars and card collectors, since this photograph was taken during the very same photo shoot which produced the image appearing on Kelly's famous "Four Base Hit" baseball card. This and other images from this same shoot have been reproduced in many books over the years. Aside from a few cards (one Four Base Hit, one Yum Yum, and one G&B), we have never had a period image from this series, let alone one so huge. This photograph was obviously produced at great expense as a very special presentation or display piece, though unfortunately we have no additional information about its history. The mount is extremely substantial, approximately one-quarter-inch thick, with beveled edges and with the original gold trim intact on top and both sides. This just might be the single most imposing nineteenth-century cabinet card we have ever seen. In fact, we have never seen anything else quite like it. To put the enormous size of this cabinet card into perspective, this photograph is over four times larger than that of a traditional large N173 Old Judge cabinet card (which measures what is traditionally thought of as being a very large and impressive 4.25 x 6.5 inches). The combination of the subject being Kelly, the striking pose, and the extraordinary dimensions of this imperial cabinet photograph make this a simply shocking display piece for anyone who is familiar with nineteenth-century cards or early baseball photography. This is one of the most desirable images of one of baseball's most revered early stars in a form which, like its subject, is "larger than life." This is a photograph fitting for a "King," and no doubt this was its intent. The exceptional clarity and detail of the photograph allows for every nuance of Kelly's uniform to be seen, from the laces on his shoes, to the trim on his collar and pocket. Even the "Wright & Ditson" logo on his bat is perfectly clear and legible. The small strip of the mount representing the lower margin, along with a very small blank section of the photo in the extreme lower left corner, were missing when the photo was discovered years ago, and have been replaced by expert restoration. This is perfectly executed and has no impact on the presentation of the photograph, which has an overall Excellent appearance. We have devoted a full page in our catalog to this item because it is such a unique and impressive piece, and to help to communicate the magnitude of its extraordinary size. This is a simply amazing photograph with an extraordinary display value. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000/$7,500. SOLD FOR $46,400.00
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