1871 Chicago White Stockings J. A. Pierce & Co. Advertising Trade Card - Newly Discovered Example!

Sold For: $11,258

Auction Year: 2012 spring

Lot: 31

Item Year: 1871

Category: Pre-1900 Baseball Cards (1830-1899)

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Extremely rare CDV team card of the 1871 Chicago White Stockings, issued by Chicago baseball goods store J. A. Pierce & Company. This card originates from an extraordinary new find of eight circa 1870 baseball team cards that were included among 135 nineteenth-century CDVs and trade cards featuring various subjects. This is one in a series of similarly designed team cards issued by J. A. Pierce & Company in 1871, all of which feature composite photographs of Major League teams of the then brand-new National Association of Professional Baseball Players. "Chicago B.B.C., 1871" is lettered at the base of the mount, below which are the printed names of each of the eleven players pictured, including Jas. Woods, Fred Treacy, and George Zettlein. Advertising text for F. A. Pierce appears on the reverse. The Chicago White Stockings were in first place late in the season of the National Association's inaugural year when their quest for the pennant was undermined by Mrs. O'Leary's cow. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 not only destroyed their home stadium but their homes, uniforms, and equipment as well. The team was forced to finish their season on the road in the East, borrowing uniforms from other teams as they went along. The disruption to their schedule and routines no doubt greatly affected their play on the field and they lost the championship to the Philadelphia Athletics on the very last day of the season at the Union Grounds in Brooklyn.

Prior to the discovery of this card, we knew of the existence of only four examples of the 1871 Chicago White Stockings J. A. Pierce & Co. advertising trade card, two of which were trimmed. The offered example is also trimmed, but offers exceptional visual appeal. (Trade cards and CDVs were often slightly trimmed at the time so that they could fit into CDV albums.) The photograph in particular displays outstanding clarity and contrast, while the mount remains clean and bright. Light wear is evident on the reverse, but all of the advertising text remains bold and well defined. The card (2.5 x 4 inches) has been neatly trimmed along the border areas (most notably along the top), and is otherwise in Excellent condition overall. As noted earlier, this card is new to the hobby and was just recently discovered by our consignor among 135 CDVs and trade cards left to her by her parents, who purchased them over twenty years ago at an antiques shop. (All of the additional baseball CDVs and trade cards, as well as the large group of remaining cards, are featured elsewhere in this auction.) This card has always been highly prized both because of its rarity and special significance to baseball history due to its connection to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In addition, the fact that it is part of a set of team cards issued by J. A. Pierce & Company, one of the earliest card sets ever issued, gives it a great significance with reference to the history of baseball cards. Encapsulated and labeled "Authentic" by SGC. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $11,258

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