Original carte de visite (CDV) capturing Dave Birdsall in a formal studio setting. Produced by the renowned Warren Studio of Boston. This is just the second example of this CDV we have ever seen. The other originated directly from the personal collection of his Boston Red Stockings teammate George Wright. Dave Birdsall, at the age of 32, was already a seasoned veteran when he joined Harry Wright's Boston Red Stockings of the newly formed National Association in 1871. Birdsall was well known to Harry Wright at the time, because Birdsall played against Wright's Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869 and 1870. Birdsall was also a friend of Wright's brother, George, as the two were teammates with the Unions of Morrisania in 1867 and 1868. Birdsall was primarily a catcher during his career, but he could be counted upon as a dependable outfielder as well. Birdsall played three years with the Boston Red Stockings, helping the club win two league championships before retiring after the 1873 season.
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 both the base of the mount and reverse. The reverse credit 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.