Original carte de visite (CDV) capturing Charles Sweasy, former member of the legendary 1869 Boston Red Stockings. Produced by the renowned Warren Studio of Boston. We have never seen this particular CDV of Sweasy, a player for whom very few original portrait photos exist, and it may be unique.
Charles Sweasy was one of the top amateur second baseman during the late 1860s, which led Harry Wright to entice him with a salary of $800 to play for his 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball's first all professional team. Sweasy was a key member of the club in both 1869 and 1870, but his penchant for drinking did not sit will with the straight-laced Wright. As a result, Sweasy was not welcome on Wright's 1871 Boston Red Stockings club in the newly formed National Association. Instead, Sweasy joined the Washington Olympics of the National Association in 1871 and the following year he played with Cleveland. Sweasy rejoined Harry Wright in Boston in 1873, but the reunion was short lived. Sweasy's off-field behavior had not changed and he played in only one game with the eventual league champions before being released. He played sparingly for a number of professional clubs in both the National Association and National League before retiring in 1878.
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, baseball's first professional league, 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. While the history of the album is unknown (our consignor purchased it from an antique dealer), 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.
A "Warren's" credit stamp appears on the reverse that includes the studio's address ("289 Washington Street, Boston, Mass.") and the notice "Under the Supervision of Mr. S. B. Heald." Based upon that information, this CDV was produced between the years 1872 and 1874 (the studio moved to 289 Washington Street in 1872 and Heald left the company in 1874). As previously noted, the CDV (2.5x4 inches) has been slightly trimmed to its current dimensions. Encapsulated and certified "Authentic" by SGC.