Original cabinet-card photograph capturing Hall of Fame outfielder Sam Thompson in a formal studio setting. Produced by the MacIntire Bros. photography studio of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as noted on the front base. This is just the second example of this Sam Thompson cabinet photo we have ever seen, with the other originating from the estate of his former Detroit Wolverines teammate Hardy Richardson.
This piece 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 photo is not only the first such example we have handled, but in many cases, the only one we have ever seen. 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.
Sam Thompson was one of the top hitters of his era and a key member of the Detroit Wolverines 1887 World Championship club. Over the course of his fifteen year career (1885-1898, 1906) Thompson led the National League in home runs twice, RBI three times, and batting average once. He finished his career with 126 home runs, 1,308 RBI, and a .331 lifetime batting average.
The cabinet (4.25x6.5") has been encapsulated and graded FR 1.5" by SGC. The grade is predicated solely upon the fact that a few tiny pencil marks were applied to enhance the color of Thompson's hair (most likely because this photo was once used for publishing purposes). Aside from that, the card remains in Excellent to Mint condition and is probably the finest of all the cabinets discovered in the album.