1895 Cleveland Spiders World Champions Imperial Cabinet Photograph with Cy Young
Starting Bid - $2,500.00, Sold For - $14,220.00
Exceedingly rare imperial cabinet photo of the 1895 World Champion Cleveland Spiders. This is only the second example of an 1895 Cleveland Spiders team photo that we have ever seen, in any format, let alone an imperial cabinet measuring 16 x 20 inches. The formal studio photograph captures seventeen members of the club posing together, with all of the uniformed players identified in print along the base: Cy Young, Jesse Burkett, Bobby Wallace, Chief Zimmer, Chippy McGarr, Harry Blake, Cupid Childs, George Cuppy, Jimmy McAleer, Ed McKean, Patsy Tebeau, Eddie O'Meara, Phil Knell, Jack O'Connor, and George Tebeau. The two other gentlemen pictured in formal attire are team owners Frank D. Robison and his brother Stanley Robison. The photographer's credit and copyright notice appear in print along the base of the mount: "Copyright 1895 by John H. Ryder of Cleveland, Ohio."
All original imperial cabinet display photos of Major League teams from the 1890s are extremely rare, but one featuring the 1895 World Champion Cleveland Spiders is especially significant. Amazingly, this piece was just recently discovered at a local estate sale in Ohio by our consignor, who regularly attends such sales looking for hidden gems. Needless to say, he hit a grand slam with this find. When he purchased it, the photo was in two separate pieces. Normally, REA almost never has occasion to recommend, let alone oversee, any restoration project; it’s just something that we don’t get involved with. However, this was the rare exception where we thought 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. As one can see by the before-and-after photos on our website, our confidence in Mr. Messier was well founded. The photo itself (16 x 14 inches) now presents an overall Excellent appearance, with the original tear very unobtrusive when viewed straight on. It should be noted that other than the piece having been rebacked with proper conservation materials, the restoration only addressed the central tear (the complete restoration report from Paul Messier can be viewed on our website). A few additional flaws, including a chip in the upper left corner, a diagonal tear in the upper right corner, and two small tears and minor staining along the base were not treated. (Of course, they can always be addressed by professional restoration in the future if so desired, but the piece displays beautifully as is.)
The Cleveland Spiders finished in second place to the Baltimore Orioles in 1895. As was the custom at the time, the first-place and second-place teams in the National League agreed to meet in a best-of-seven series to determine the league champion. From 1894 through 1897 that postseason series was referred to as the Temple Cup Series due to the presentation of an elegant trophy cup to the winning team donated by Pittsburgh sportsman William C. Temple. Only three games separated the two clubs at the end of the season, but during the postseason there was no doubt as to which club was tops in the league. Behind the strong pitching of Cy Young, who won three games, the Spiders easily bested the Orioles in five games, thereby capturing their only World Championship in franchise history. We have never before seen an 1895 Cleveland Spiders imperial team cabinet offered at public auction, and its rarity is such that we may never see another. This is truly an amazing find and Robert Edward Auctions is proud to have been chosen to present this remarkable museum-quality piece to the collecting community for the very first time. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $5,000+. SOLD FOR $14,220.00