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Lot # 17: 1871 Olympic BBC National Association Team CDV (SGC)

Starting Bid: $5,000.00

Bids: 3 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "2023 Fall Classic",
which ran from 10/29/2023 7:00 PM to
11/18/2023 10:00 PM

Original carte de visite (CDV), issued by the J. A. Pierce Company of Chicago, Illinois, capturing eleven members of the 1871 Olympics Base Ball Club (Washington, D.C.), a founding member of the National Association, baseball's first professional league. To the best of our knowledge, this is one of only two surviving examples of this rare team CDV (the other first appeared at auction in 2006 and has remained in private hands since that time). The composite CDV features portrait images of each player in formal attire. Both the team and each individual player are identified in print along the base.

The Olympics were a well-stocked team in 1871. In addition to Davey Force, one of the top players of the decade, the roster also included five former members of the legendary 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings: Andy Leonard, Charles Sweasy, Doug Allison, Asa Brainard, and Fred Waterman. Even with that star-studded lineup, the Olympics could do no better than a 15-15 record. After the season, most of its top players left the club and the Olympics managed to play only nine league games in 1872 before disbanding.

As noted by the text on the reverse, this CDV was issued by the Chicago sporting goods company J. A. Pierce, with the photographs supplied by O. F. Weaver. The street number of the J. A. Pierce Company has been crossed out in ink and a new street number is written to the left of it (presumably because the company had to move after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871). The J. A. Piece Company issued team composite CDVs for each of the nine founding members of the National Association in 1871, seven of which are offered in this sale. 

This CDV originates from an extraordinary unprecedented find of early baseball photographs recently discovered in a nineteenth-century photo album, all of which are offered in this auction. Included in the album were team composite CDVs for seven of the nine founding members of the 1871 National Association, plus individual portrait images of many of the game's earliest stars. Original baseball photos dating from the 1870s are exceedingly rare and for many of the players represented in this collection their offered CDV is not only the first such example we have handled, but in many cases, the only one we have ever seen. 

All the CDVs in the collection have been slightly trimmed by the original owner so that they could fit properly within the predesigned album sleeves (a common practice at the time). However, for most, the trim affects the mount only and the photos remain in outstanding condition overall. The history of the album is unknown (our consignor purchased it from an antique dealer), but since nearly all the photos found in the album are of ball clubs or ballplayers from the early 1870s, it most likely belonged to a former player or perhaps a National Association team executive.

As previously noted, the CDV (2.5x4 inches) has been slightly trimmed to its current dimensions. Encapsulated and certified "Authentic" by SGC.

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