1888 "All-Americans" World Tour Team Photo
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $11,258
Exceedingly rare (possibly unique) large-format cabinet photo (10 x 8 inches) picturing the ten members of the All-American team who participated in Albert Spalding's legendary 1888-1889 World Tour: Tom Brown, Fred Carroll, John Healy, George Wood, Jim Manning, Jim Fogarty, John Ward, Ned Hanlon, Ed Crane, and Billy Earle. This is not only the first example of this cabinet card we have ever seen, but it is one of only a small number of surviving original photos dating from that legendary baseball tour. What makes this photo even more intriguing is that it appears to have been John Montgomery Ward's personal copy, which he later loaned for publication (a common practice at the time). That information is inferred by the vintage handwritten notation on the reverse that reads: "To New York Clipper/Compliments/John M. Ward." Additional scripted notations on the reverse reveal the identity of the photographer: "From Taber Photographer/8 Montgomery St./San Francisco/Cal." The final notation on the reverse, which has since been gone over in blue ink, reads "All American Team/1888-1889." There appears to a name written on the right border of the reverse, but it is partially obscured, rendering it illegible. Isaiah Tabe, was a very well known San Francisco photographer and the fact that he took this photo dates it just prior to the tourists' embarking on their overseas sojourn on November 16, 1888.
The 1888-1889 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.
Any and all material relating to the 1888-1889 World Tour is rare, especially photos. Incredibly, this All-Americans Tour photo surfaced on eBay many years ago, and even more incredibly, at that time, by chance we happened to see it, and we were so impressed with the offering that we actually took the time to call eBay seller Sandiegowill (one of the great eBay sellers of vintage material from years past) to tell him (and in the hopes that maybe there were more; there were not). He informed us that this was one of the highlights from a very substantial California library photo archive (mostly PCL photos) that was being sold; it has been consigned to this auction by the original purchaser! Prior to its discovery years ago, we had never even seen this particular image, making it an all-the-more remarkable find, especially given the fact that it includes future Hall of Famers Montgomery Ward and Ned Hanlon. The photo, which displays outstanding clarity, displays a heavy five-inch diagonal crease in the upper left corner that has been reinforced on the reverse with clear tape. A few light scratches are also visible on the surface, but only when viewed at certain angles. Wear is evident along all four borders of the mount, including rounded corners and minor surface paper loss. A small white label, reading "All-Americans/1888-1889" in black type, is affixed to the upper right corner of the photo. Aside from the large diagonal crease, nearly all of the remaining flaws are relegated to the mount and the central image area displays as Excellent. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $11,258