1905 Eastern League Composite Display Photograph (Includes Many "T206 Players")

Sold For: $3,231

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1453

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Similar in style to the famed 1903 American League composite display photograph by Carl Horner, this extraordinary photographic composite (which is essentially a gigantic cabinet photograph of unparalleled quality) was produced by the Weasner Photography Studio of Buffalo, New York, and pictures the managers and players from all eight teams comprising the 1905 Eastern League: Baltimore, Rochester, Buffalo, Newark, Jersey City, Toronto, Montreal, and Providence. Among the managers pictured in the center of the display are Hughie Jennings for Baltimore, George Stallings (who later managed the 1914 “Miracle Braves”) for Buffalo, and Jack Dunn (who later signed Babe Ruth to his first professional contract) for eventual league champion Providence. A total of 120 different player portrait images are featured, including many players who had been in the Major Leagues in prior years and were just winding down their careers, and many others who went on to the Major Leagues in future years. Many players in this composite appeared in the T206 tobacco-card set. The Eastern League began play in 1892 and remained in existence under that name until 1912, whereupon it became known as the International League. During an era of few Major League teams, the minor league circuits represented the top level of organized baseball for many areas of the country. The Eastern League was one of the most prestigious minor league organizations on the East Coast and was at one time presided over by Ed Barrow. This is an extremely substantial and impressive display piece, obviously produced at great cost, and one that truly reflects the lofty status of the Eastern League at the time. This is only the third example of this extraordinarily rare and striking photo we have ever seen (including one that was once prominently displayed in the famous Halper Collection). Based on the quality of the display and its rarity, it is likely that these photographic displays were originally produced as presentation pieces for players, managers, or executives. It is also possible they were sold for home display though we have yet to see period advertisements confirming this, as we have for the Horner display composites featuring Major Leaguers of the same era. The offered piece (16.5 x 13.5 inches), which displays exceptional clarity, is affixed to its original cardboard mount and has been handsomely triple matted and framed to total dimensions of 29.5 x 26.5 inches. There is a one-inch horizontal tear (no paper loss) along the left border, affecting the photo of "Raub" on Montreal and a one-inch compound tear (no paper loss) in the lower right corner (not affecting any photo). A few small surface abrasions are also evident, the largest of which affect the photos of "Hearne" and "Burchell" (both on Baltimore) along the top row. Those minor condition anomalies aside, the piece has an spectacular Excellent to Mint appearance and stands as a paragon of early twentieth-century baseball photography. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000++. SOLD FOR $3,231

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