Sport Images before 1940
In addition to T206 Wagner
See also : Baseball Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Photos 1900s 1910s
1904-1942 The Conlon Archive
2016 SOLD for $ 1.8M by Heritage
Until 1942 Conlon is the anonymous author of the most important photographs of baseball, published and re-published in magazines, guides and sports cards. All the top players in Major League are displayed in his work.
Conlon shoots all his views on the field. He observes the differentiation of actions depending of the player, their method to hold the ball or the bat. His early negatives are made on glass plates 5 x 7 ". The improvement of the techniques then allows the photographer to use the format 4 x 5" on glass and later on acetate.
The increase of sensitivity now makes possible the view of a speedy movement in close up. His image freezing a spectacular action by Ty Cobb on July 23, 1910 is a masterpiece of instant photography.
The 7,462 original negatives taken by Conlon during the 38 years of his photographic career are housed in 85 boxes, each one around shoebox size. They were sold together for $ 1.8M at lot 80082 by Heritage on August 27, 2016.
This complete archive is unique, extraordinary and irreplaceable in the history of baseball throughout its period. The sale includes only the photographs and in no way the intellectual property rights. Please watch the video shared by Heritage.
1909 T206 WAGNER
See dedicated page :
1910 T206 Joe Doyle
2022 SOLD for $ 1.06M by Mile High Card
The backs are advertisings for the various brands of the company : 14 for cigarettes and one for scrap tobacco. 80% of the T206 cards have Piedmont or Sweet Caporal backs. The back is also referring to a factory number of the tobacco company.
The rarest T206 variation is an error card. It features Joe Doyle with hands up. The heading N.Y. Nat'l in the front side is wrong after a confusion with Larry Doyle. Joe was playing in the New York's American League.
The error was discovered during an early stage of production and corrected so that very few examples of the error card have survived. It was identified in the 1990s. PSA is only recording 10 graded units, 4 of which carrying the Piedmont 350 reverse.
A card with Piedmont back announcing 350 Subjects and Factory 25 was sold for $ 1.06M by Mile High Card on March 31, 2022, lot 2. The image is bright but the card could not be attributed a higher grade than Good 2 by PSA due to a very poor centering.
The mis-spelling error of Magie instead of Magee in the original 150 Subjects series left more escapes. The finest known example was sold for $ 660K by Heritage on September 20, 2018, lot 50292.
FINAL DAY TO BID ON March Premier Catalog Auction: Lot #2: Exceedingly Rare 1909-11 T206 Piedmont 350/25 Joe Doyle N.Y. Nat'l Hands Up PSA 2 GOOD. Bid Now: https://t.co/YunZEsKgHA @milehighcard @PSAcard #doyle #t206 #newyork #whodoyoucollect #sportscardcollector pic.twitter.com/SGXYEwOhza— Mile High Card Co (@milehighcard) March 31, 2022
1911 Autographed Photo of Joe Jackson
2021 SOLD for $ 1.47M by Christie's and Hunt
Smith was indeed a fan of the local MLB club, the Cleveland Naps. He joined the Naps in March 1911 in Alexandria, Virginia, where they had some training. The album was featuring the players and managers of the Naps during that session and was completed later in that year by similar views of the New York Giants taken in Chicago. The format was mostly 8 x 10 inches in size for the Naps and 5 x 8 inches for the rest of it.
Three stars of the baseball were included. Nap Lajoie was the Cleveland team's namesake since 1903 and Joe Jackson had just been hired by them. Christy Mathewson was with the Giants. Their photos were offered as separate lots and the rest of it was sold for $ 13K. Christy fetched $ 93K and Nap $ 16.7K.
The athletic prodigy Shoeless Joe, aged 24, was the highlight of the collection. He was reputed to be an illiterate and indeed his writing is clumsy. I guess that he would not refuse an autograph to Smith while the rest of the team was doing it. It is the only known photo autographed by Joe Jackson in his 13 year MLB career. It has been authenticated by PSA/DNA. The location and date have been added by Smith below the signature of the illiterate.
This photo was sold for $ 180K by Heritage on February 21, 2015, lot 80051 and for $ 1.47M by Christie's and Hunt on October 7, 2021, lot 58. In the same 2021 sale, Christy's 5 " x 8 " photo from the Smith album was sold for $ 138K, lot 55.
An #auctionrecord for any signed sports photograph was set for an exceedingly scarce and important 1911 "Shoeless" Joe Jackson-autographed photo by Frank W. Smith which sold for $1,470,000, far exceeding the estimate of $200,000-400,000. @HuntAuctions https://t.co/MF5ay34oiU pic.twitter.com/pePqvupClf— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) October 7, 2021
The MLB rookie card of the future super-champion, published in 1916, is much more satisfactory. He was caught in action, watching where is the ball which he just threw. He has not yet retrieved his balance and the slightly angled view makes him appear slimmer than life. The monochrome sepia print is very neat. He is already identified by his famous nickname 'Babe Ruth'.
Who produced this legendary image ? Original inscriptions are absent, which is often the case when the publisher's main clients are companies that use the back side for their advertising. The Sporting News is not the editor but one of such advertisers, like the Standard Biscuit Company. The real author appears to be a Chicago photographer named Felix Mendelsohn, almost a namesake of the musician.
The American Card Catalog, which defined the denominations of all series in 1939, did a commendable job but without resolving such ambiguities. So Babe Ruth's rookie card is in the M101-4 and M101-5 series with a Sporting News or blank back and D350 with a Standard Biscuit back.
The three series have about 200 positions each. For the 30 players identified with the same position number, it is impossible to know if a card belongs to M101-4 or -5. The Ruth card has the number 151 in all three. M101-5 may be earlier than M101-4.
Still worse : the denomination M101, from -1 to -7, gathers alongside -4 and -5 Sporting News supplements and postcards plus photos later published under an FM copyright, although no other joint operation between the magazine and Mendelsohn is known.
NM7 by PSA
2021 SOLD for $ 2.46M by Mile High Card
An M101-5-151 with blank back also rated NM 7 by PSA was sold for $ 720K by Heritage on August 27, 2016, lot 80001.
Consignments are absolutely phenomenal at the 41st National Sports Collectors Convention this amazing card will be in our Fall auction consign at booth 612/614 @milehighcard pic.twitter.com/viPLfEp3Jj— Mile High Card Co (@milehighcard) July 31, 2021
NM 7 by SGC
2023 SOLD for $ 1.77M by Heritage
It was sold for $ 1.77M by Heritage on February 25, 2023, lot 80012. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
EX-MT6 by PSA
2022 SOLD for $ 1.5M by Goldin
This card is perfectly centered with sharp corners. A small stain in a corner prevented a higher level. It is bested in PSA database by one NM-MT8 and one NM7.
“This is the ultimate card to own!” □— Ken Goldin (@KenGoldin) April 21, 2022
Current Bid: $610,000 pic.twitter.com/6KjbuOHhUe
EX-MT 6 by PSA
2021 SOLD for $ 1.45M by Memory Lane
1925 ESCO Gehrig
2021 SOLD for $ 1.03M by Memory Lane
The images were issued in black and white by halftone prints in postcard size, 3-3/8" x 5-3/8" (8.5 x 13.5 cm). They were often reused from year to year. The publisher is not identified and the back is blank, which is consistent with the fact that the sale to the public was not planned. The views are not numbered.
In 1925, Exhibit publish the portraits in action of 128 baseball players, most often in a vertical format. The player's name and position, along with his city and league, are grouped in a box at the bottom left.
This series includes a rookie card which is outstanding in the history of baseball images : Henry L. Gehrig, Infield, New York, A.L. (American League). Lou Gehrig, 22, holds up his bat for hitting. He already has that look of a quiet colossus which will please the public so much.
The Gehrig rookie card from the Newman collection is graded EX 5 by PSA, it is one of 4 in that grade with 3 higher. It was sold for $ 1.03M by Memory Lane on July 10, 2021, lot 4.
An autographed example graded by PSA VG-EX 4 (MK) with a signature graded 8 was listed for a two run private auction by BWIC n February 2023, lot 4. The MK refers to graphite notations on the reverse. Signed cards that are clean enough for being graded are of the utmost rarity for the 1925 Exhibits Gehrig rookie.
This image is of course not the earliest from Gehrig's career. A print of a press photo taken in 1923 featuring him with the Yankees uniform was sold for $ 22.7K by Heritage on August 14, 2015, lot 81004.
5 DAYS REMAIN in our Thomas Newman Collection Auction! Don't Wait – BID NOW! Lot 4 - 1925 Exhibits Lou Gehrig PSA 5 EX. An AMAZING addition to ANY Collection! #memorylaneinc #auction #LouGehrig #sportscards @PSAcard pic.twitter.com/Mudg1YM9QK— MemoryLaneInc (@MemoryLaneInc) July 5, 2021
1933 Goudey RUTH
2021 SOLD for $ 4.2M by Memory Lane
A sale dedicated to 1933 Goudey by Heritage on January 24, 2019 highlighted three cards graded Mint 9 by PSA : a Gehrig for $ 580K and two Ruth for $ 530K (# 144) and $ 460K (# 181). Two years before, a VG-EX 4 Goudey-Ruth cards did not exceed $ 15K and signed cards were of interest only to specialist collectors.
The star lot of the collection of the late Thomas Newman was a 1933 Goudey # 53 featuring Ruth with bat on shoulder and yellow background. It was sold for $ 4.2M by Memory Lane on July 10, 2021, lot 1. It is the only card of this position graded Mint 9 by PSA with none higher and none equal or higher by SGC.
A 1933 Goudey card # 53 featuring Babe Ruth on a yellow background was sold for $ 940K by Memory Lane on May 21, 2022, lot 1. It is one of 14 units graded NM-MT 8 by PSA.
Its visual brilliance like pack fresh is considered by Memory Lane as better than the Newman example having the only higher grade granted by PSA on this variety, sold for $ 4.2M by the same auction house in 2021..
2021 SOLD for $ 1.27M by Memory Lane
Also graded Mint 9 by PSA, the example from the Newman collection was sold for $ 1.27M by Memory Lane on July 10, 2021, lot 2.