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1889 P. T. Barnum Signed Imperial Cabinet Card
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $1,645
Spectacular imperial cabinet photo of P. T. Barnum (1810-1891), signed by the legendary showman in the lower right border. The studio photo, produced by renowned Boston photographer Elmer Chickering, pictures Barnum in formal attire and features the photographer’s gilt-stamped name in the lower left border. Barnum’s signature appears not on the cabinet, but on a segment of his personal letterhead that has been affixed along the bottom right border. Ideally, the portion of letterhead chosen by Barnum features his embossed initials (“PTB") and reads “To Frank Sherwood Esq with Compliments of P T Barnum – July 5th 1889.” Both the signature and inscription have been boldly executed in black fountain pen and grade “10.” Due to the nature of the inscription, and its placement at the top of his letterhead, and the absolutely extraordinary quality and size of the photograph, it seems almost certain that Barnum himself affixed it to the cabinet and then presented it to Sherwood as a gift. And what a gift it was, as this is by far the finest signed photo of Barnum we have ever encountered! The crystal-clear sepia photo (7.5 x 8.5 inches) was obviously produced at great expense, almost certainly specifically for presentation purposes. It is in remarkable Excellent to Mint condition, essentially perfect, displaying virtually no wear even to the mount (8 x 10 inches). A small area of paper residue remains on the reverse. P. T. Barnum was the greatest showman in American history and cofounder of the world-famous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Barnum signed this cabinet photo just two years prior to his passing, at which time he was one of the most famous and recognizable men in the world. This piece is extraordinary in all respects and one that would be a significant highlight for even the most discriminating collector. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000/$2,000. SOLD FOR $1,645
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