Original carte de visite (CDV) capturing Cal McVey, a member of the 1869 Boston Red Stockings, baseball's first all-professional team. Produced by the famed Bachrach photography studio of Baltimore. We have never seen another example of this CDV of Cal McVey and it may be unique. McVey played with the Baltimore Canaries of the National Association in 1873. Given that the CDV was produced by the Bachrach studio, it is reasonable to assume that it dates from that year. This CDV image was also used to create the woodcut illustration of McVey that was part of a Baltimore Canaries team composite featured in the May 5, 1873, issue of the Daily Graphic, a New York City newspaper.
Cal McVey, who was the youngest member of the legendary 1869 Boston Red Stockings, was one of the top hitters of his era and led the National Association in RBI on two separate occasions. He began his Major League career with the Boston Red Stockings in 1871, finishing the season with a career high .431 batting average. McVey was a member of three of Boston's four National Association pennant winning clubs (1872, 1874, and 1875) before joining the Chicago White Sox of the newly formed National League in 1876. Once again, McVey's presence on the roster equated to a pennant, as Chicago became the National League's first champion. McVey remained with Chicago for the remainder of his career and retired in 1879 with a .346 lifetime batting average.
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 "David Bachrach Jr." credit stamp appears on the reverse. The Bachrach studio, which is still in existence today, was founded by David Bachrach in 1868 and quickly became one of the premier photography studios in the country. Known for its portraits of famous individuals, a Bachrach family member has photographed every United States President from Abraham Lincoln to George H. W. Bush. In 1881 the studio changed its name to Bachrach Bros., therefore the offered CDV dates prior to that name change. As previously noted, the CDV (2.5x3.75 inches) has been slightly trimmed to its current dimensions. Encapsulated and certified "Authentic" by SGC.