Original carte de visite (CDV) capturing Ross Barnes, first National League batting champion. Produced by the renowned Warren Studio of Boston. This is one of only two examples of this CDV we have ever seen. The other originated from the personal collection of his Hall of Fame teammate George Wright. It is interesting to note that an ornate baseball pin is clearly visible on his left breast (the same pin can be seen on the vest of his Red Stockings teammates Charles Gould and Harry Schafer on separate CDVs in the collection).
During the first decade of professional baseball, there were few players who could compare with Ross Barnes. In 1903, former player turned sportswriter Tim Murnane declared that Barnes as the "king of second baseman, as well as the finest batsman and run-getter of all time." The records support that claim. Barnes batted over .400 on four separate occasions and finished his career with a .360 lifetime average. In both 1872 and 1873 he won the National Association batting title, and in 1876 he became the National League's first batting champion with a mark of .429. Barnes began his career as one of the top players on the Forest City's of Rockford, a team that also included Al Spalding. In 1871 he was recruited by Harry Wright to join Boston's entry in the National Association, baseball's first professional league. Barnes helped Boston win four league titles before joining the Chicago White Stockings of the newly formed National League in 1876. Barnes once again proved his worth, as he led the league in nearly every offensive category to help power the White Stockings to the league championship. Unfortunately, a mysterious illness cut short his career and he played only nine seasons of professional baseball before retiring in 1881.
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 (2.5x4.75 inches) has been slightly trimmed to its current dimensions. Encapsulated and certified "Authentic" by SGC.