March 28, 2011
Rare imperial cabinet photo capturing the Indianapolis ABCs/Royal Poinciana baseball club posing together in 1916. Fifteen team members are pictured here, including future Hall of Fame first baseman Ben Taylor (seated in the second row, far left.) and his brother C. I. Taylor (first row, third from the right). The handwritten notation along the top of the mount reads "Royal Poinciana BB Club/Palm Beach - FLA - 1916." All of the players are identified in black ink along the base of the mount (first initial and last name only). Another of the Taylor brothers is pictured here, but because he is identified simply as "J. Taylor" (top row, second from the left) we are not sure if it is "Candy Jim" or Johnny, both of whom played with the ABCs during this time period. The Royal Poinciana BBC was a winter-league club sponsored by the Royal Poinciana Hotel of Palm Beach, Florida. Obviously, the hotel recruited nearly the entire Indianapolis ABCs roster, as all but one of the players pictured here is wearing an ABCs uniform. We don't know how the team fared that winter, but given that the ABCs were one of the top Negro League clubs in 1916, they probably made a strong showing. Ben Taylor was one of the greatest first baseman in Negro League history, known for both his excellence in the field and at the plate. He was also a natural leader and teacher, and a noted mentor to many future stars, including Buck Leonard. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006. Original Negro League photos dating from the early 1900s, especially those picturing prominent teams and/or players, such as this piece, are exceedingly rare. This is the first example of this cabinet photo we have ever seen and it may be the lone survivor. The photo (7 x 5 inches), which offers exceptional clarity and contrast, displays a few tiny edge tears and is otherwise in Near Mint condition. The mount (10 x 8 inches) displays a tack hole along the top border, edge chips/tears, and light-to-moderate staining. Mounted and framed to total dimensions of 16 x 14 inches.