Published and copyrighted by artists Gilbert & Bacon in 1884, this classic engraved print, Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia, features a game-in-progress stadium scene with the Philadelphia Club on the field. Below the title, the team is further identified as "Champions of 1884." The team represented here is the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association. The A's were the champions of the League in 1883; however, it was the custom of the day to refer to the previous year's championship club as "champions" for the regular season of the following year as well. This print is especially noteworthy in that the images of the players in the field (as well as those on the sidelines) are illustrated with perfect likenesses, as is characteristic of the photogravure printmaking process. Even the fans seated in the stands are depicted with the same exacting attention. The extraordinary detail makes this print one of the most unique and interesting of all nineteenth-century baseball display pieces. Only two other display prints from that era are known to have been produced in such a unique style. Each of those other two similar-style prints features the Boston Base Ball Club and were published a few years later, in 1888 and 1889, respectively. The offered print, in addition to being the forerunner to those two later display pieces, is also the rarest of the trio. While the players are not individually identified, the player depicted on the mound is star pitcher Bobby Mathews (a thirty-game winner in 1884) and the player at first base is Harry Stovey (the League's 1884 home run champion with fourteen). As noted in the lower margin, the piece was printed by the "Wells & Hope Co." The print (22.75 x 17.5 inches; visible dimensions) displays light toning along the base and has had restoration to a number of tears, the largest of which is a vertical example down the entire center of the piece; however, the restoration is fairly unobtrusive and does not detract from its overall Excellent appearance. Matted and framed to total dimensions of 29.25 x 24.25 inches. The substantial size/weight of this item requires that there will be a shipping charge for this lot (which will vary depending upon where it is being shipped). The shipping charge will be billed separately from the auction invoice.
Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000/$2,000.
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