Our national pastime is a game of famous firsts. Whether it is Roscoe Barnes’ home run in 1876, the formation of the leagues, the 1903 World Series, advent of the Midsummers’ Classic or the breaking of the color barrier, baseball is a sport where history can be documented as a point-in-time by century. Four years following the conclusion of America’s bloodiest internal conflict, ten members of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings Base Ball Club became the first professional squad. Fueled by the business acumen of Harry Wright, the barnstorming Red Stockings scorched their outgunned competition by posting a perfect 57-0 record. The team was celebrated in both literature and song and paved the way for the future viability of professional baseball.
During the same period, the newly invented carte de viste (or visiting card) gained significant popularity. The thick photographs of prominent citizens were widely distributed and collected and used by various sponsors to promote their products. The New York-area sporting goods company Peck & Snyder capitalized on both the CDV and the immensely popular American sport by distributing a team composite of what is now considered the first baseball card. Graded Poor 1 by SGC. The offered 1869 Peck & Snyder Cincinnati Red Stockings (Small) team card is a significant early baseball artifact and is one of only five total judged by the grading service. After 140 years in hiding, this artifact was recently unearthed by our Ohio based consignor. A total census of both the PSA and SGC population reports confirm a total of eight small versions.
Despite a combination of obverse wear consistent with the technical assessment, the sepia images of the Red Stockings have survived the century with perfectly contrasted imagery. Each player is confirmed as a member of the team with a “C” that is factory printed onto their jerseys. Subjects include Top Row: Hurley, G. Wright, Allison, McVey, Leonard; Bottom Row: Sweasy, Waterman, H. Wright, Brainard and Gould. The boldly stamped reverse confirms the identities of the subjects and includes an advertisement for Chadwick’s Base Ball Player’s Book of References for 1869 authored by Henry Chadwick, the “Father of Baseball”. Huggins & Scott is proud to offer this significant piece of both American and sports history and will be exhibiting it at the 2014 National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.