1889 Joseph Hall New York Giants World Champions Team Imperial Display Photograph

Sold For: $7,800

Auction Year: 2016 fall

Lot: 1455

Item Year: 1889

Category: Pre-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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Exceedingly rare large-format photograph (22 x 17.5 inches) of the 1889 World Champion New York Giants taken by noted photographer Joseph Hall. The elegant studio photograph captures fourteen members of the club posing together in formal attire. An illustrated banner in the background reads "League Champions 1889." The following players are pictured here: (top row, L/R) Art Whitney, Tim Keefe, Mike Tiernan, Mickey Welch, Roger Connor, Willard Brown, and Buck Ewing; (bottom row) Pat Murphy, Cannonball Crane, unidentified, Jim Murtrie (Mgr.), Danny Richardson, Bill George, and Jim O'Rourke. This is one of only three examples we have ever seen of this photo. Given both its rarity and enormous size one can only assume that it was produced as a special presentation piece, possibly exclusively for team members and special patrons of the club, unlike the smaller Joseph Hall team cabinets that were available to the general public. The Giants captured their second consecutive World Championship in 1889, an achievement that would certainly warrant the commission of such an extraordinary photograph from Joseph Hall. There are few nineteenth-century baseball photographs of this size and magnitude known in the hobby. The fact that it features five future Hall of Fame players naturally adds to its preeminent status.

The photo, which offers remarkable clarity, is affixed to a slightly larger black mount that appears to be trimmed along the borders. A few repaired tears can be seen running diagonally and vertically down from the top left border. One of the tears touches only slightly on the head of Whitney, while another tear touches upon the left arms of Keefe and Crane, and the right arm of the unidentified player. A lesser repaired tear is evident in the upper right corner. Aside from that, no other player images are affected. An arrow and the name "Keefe" were once written (either in ink or pencil) above Keefe's image and have since been erased; however, both are still visible upon very close inspection. A few tape adhesions appear along both the top and bottom borders. A small piece of vintage red tape is affixed to the upper left corner while an adjacent piece of white tape, partially torn and lettered in gold, reads "N. Y. Giants." Written on the tape, beneath the Giants team identification, are additional ink notations identifying Keefe's position in the photo. A long strip of maroon-colored tape has been applied along the entire base of the black mount, partially overlapping onto the photo. Applied upon the center of that maroon-colored tape is a second piece of white tape, lettered in gold, reading "In H_ll of Fame" (the tape is torn where the letter "a" would have been). It should be noted that all of the tape can probably be easily removed by a conservator and the repaired tears are very unobtrusive. While technically in Very Good condition, the photo displays magnificently as Excellent and is probably visually superior to the others we have seen. Matted to total dimensions of 27.5 x 24 inches. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open).

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