Original carte de visite (CDV), issued by the J. A. Pierce Company of Chicago, Illinois, capturing ten members of the 1871 Haymakers Base Ball Club (Troy, New York), including Lipman Pike, the first great Jewish ballplayer. To the best of our knowledge, this is one of only two surviving examples of this rare team CDV. The other resides in the permanent collection of the Chicago Historical Society, making this the only one available to private collectors. The composite CDV features portrait images of each player in uniform. Both the team and each individual player are identified in print along the base.
The Troy Haymakers were managed by Lipman Pike, who also happened to be the club's best player. Pike was the game's first great Jewish ballplayer and one of the top sluggers of his era. He also helped give rise to professionalism in organized baseball. In 1866, as a member of the Philadelphia Athletics, Pike was one of the first players to be paid when he and two other teammates received a weekly salary of $20. Pike led the National Association in home runs during each of its first three years (1871-1873). After the demise of the National Association in 1875, Pike joined the National League, where he played six additional seasons and led the league in home runs in 1877. He finished his career with a .322 batting average in ten seasons of professional baseball.
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 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.