Original carte de visite (CDV) capturing former Major League outfielder Elmer White, cousin of Hall of Fame catcher Deacon White. Produced by the Barge & Udell Photography Studio of Cleveland, Ohio. We have never seen another example of this CDV of White, a player for whom very few original portrait photos exist, and it may be unique. White played only one season of Major League baseball, with the Forest Citys of Cleveland in 1871, and this CDV most likely dates from that year. (White is pictured in the Forest City team CDV offered in this auction, but the image is different.) He appeared in fifteen games with the club that year, finishing the season with 9 RBI and a .257 averaging before disappearing from the baseball record books for good.
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 "Barge & Udell" credit stamp appears on the reverse that includes the studio's address ("253 Superior Street, Cleveland, O."). As previously noted, the CDV (2.5x4 inches) has been slightly trimmed to its current dimensions. Encapsulated and certified "Authentic" by SGC.