1901 Pittsburgh Pirates Team Cabinet Photo Including Jack Chesbro and Honus Wagner

Sold For: $2,233

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1219

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Extremely rare and high-quality team cabinet photograph capturing the 1901 National League Champion Pittsburgh Pirates in a classic team pose. Very few team cabinet photographs date from the first several years of the century! The formal studio silver gelatin print photograph pictures seventeen team members in uniform, including Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke, Jack Chesbro, Deacon Phillippe, Tommy Leach, Chief Zimmer, Ginger Beaumont, and Jess Tannehill. Each player has been neatly identified in pencil on the mount along the perimeter of the photo. Printing at the base of the mount reads "Pittsburg Base Ball Club - Pennant Winners National League, 1901." Both the copyright date ("1901") and the photographer's credit (name is very tiny, barely legible, appears to read "D'Rouse") are printed in the lower left corner of the photo. Pittsburgh was the dominant club in the National League at the turn of the century. Led by the incomparable Honus Wagner, the Pirates won three consecutive pennants between the years 1901 and 1903. Team cabinet photographs featuring Major League clubs dating from this era are virtually nonexistent, let alone featuring an important championship club. This is only the second example of this particular team cabinet we have ever seen and it represents the finer of the two with regard to condition. The photo (5.25 x 3.75 inches) has two small tears in the lower left corner (of little consequence, mentioned for accuracy, no paper loss) and is otherwise in Excellent to Mint condition, displaying exceptional contrast and clarity. The mount (9.5 x 7.5 inches) has just a little minor surface wear, a small tear (extremely insignificant) along the right border, a name written in pencil on the reverse (most likely the name of a former owner), and has an Excellent appearance overall. Value is tricky on this photo. Collectors are used to paying thousands (in many cases tens of thousands) of dollars for cabinet photos of nineteenth-century teams, but traditionally think of post-1900 cabinet photos as far more modest in value, and rarely have occasion to contemplate the the value of team cabinets dating from the first several years of the twentieth century (because they are virtually nonexistent). We can't change fashion, but the approach of the market to valuing pre-1900 cabinet photographs versus post-1900 cabinet photographs may make this a particularly exceptional collecting value; but regardless of the price it realizes, it would be a very worthy addition to even the most advanced world-class collection. This piece has great merit in every way: rarity, condition, unusual era for any team cabinet photo, championship team, and includes Hall of Famers Jack Chesbro and Honus Wagner. Reserve $400. Estimate (open).
SOLD FOR $2,233

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