1903 Carl Horner American League Composite Display Photograph

Sold For: $960

Auction Year: 2016 fall

Lot: 1520

Item Year: 1903

Category: Post-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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At first glance, and even second and third glance, this majestic photographic display appears to be a 1903 American League composite photo produced by Carl Horner, baseball's preeminent photographer of the era. A very close examination, however, reveals that this piece is actually a high-quality vintage photograph of the original display. Remarkably, there has been little-to-no reduction in clarity; thus this offered piece resonates with the same extraordinary visual appeal as the original. Minor imperfections to the plate specimen used in the manufacture of this photograph define this display as a second-generation print. The circumstances of its manufacture are not known, but the extraordinary quality of its manufacture and the separate player identification panel at the bottom strongly suggest that this imperial photographic display was produced by Carl Horner Studios also, possibly a number of years after the original production. Collectors have long hailed the 1903 American League Horner composite as one of the premier early photographic baseball displays of the twentieth century. The composite features portrait images of every player, plus the team manager, for all eight American League clubs. A larger portrait of League President Ban Johnson appears in the center. Included among the many luminaries pictured are Connie Mack, Cy Young, Eddie Plank, Chief Bender, Rube Waddell, Ed Delahanty, Sam Crawford, Clark Griffith, Addie Joss, Elmer Flick, Nap Lajoie, and Jack Chesbro. All of the players have been identified (by means of a corresponding number next to each image) along the bottom white mount. As previously noted, the original plate specimen from which this piece was produced had a few minor condition flaws including a number of small repaired tears. Because of the exacting nature of the second-generation print, many of those original flaws are also visible (but NOT actually present) on the offered piece. Aside from some light foxing in the upper left border areas, the display (21 x 17 inches) is in overall Excellent condition. It is interesting to note that the first-generation prints are slightly larger, measuring 22 x 21 inches. This is one of only two second-generation 1903 Horner American League composites we have seen. Based on many factors, our best guess is that its date of manufacture is somewhere between 1910 and 1920. As most collectors are aware, original 1903 Horner prints are rare and expensive. The last several high-quality examples to appear at auction have each sold in excess of $20,000. This display, which is equal to its first generation predecessor in visual appeal, will be valued at a discount due to its status as a second-generation print, and represents a unique and very desirable alternative to a far more expensive first-generation print. We have always thought that this item represents perhaps the very best value of all early baseball photographic display pieces. Framed to total dimensions of 24 x 22 inches. Reserve $300. Estimate (open).


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