Summer, 2018 Auction - Closes August 11, 2018
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/12/2018

Extremely unusual and certainly shocking oversized mounted photo depicting 17 members of the Philadelphia Athletics, circa 1913, in full costume.  Mounted to a finished size of approximately 19 3/4" x 15 1/2", the photo is in outstanding condition, measuring approximately 13 1/4" x 8" inside the mount.  Still, there is no denying what we are looking at here - a full baseball team in various costumes, many in blackface.  Posed as a team, the players appear to be on a major league ballfield (a scoreboard in the background clearly references major league games), leading us to believe that the photo was taken during Spring Training, perhaps in Jacksonville, Florida.  Despite this, our research into this amazing piece has turned up very little.

While the subject matter of the photos is incredibly insensitive by today's standards, taken in context most of the costumes were likely good-natured; one pair of players dressed as a couple, several in full hobo garb, several (including Eddie Plank) appear to be cowboys.  One player is dressed as Uncle Sam, Chief Bender appears to be in drag (wearing his baseball glove).  Several players, including Eddie Collins, appear in blackface and dressed in what appear to be grass skirts of some kind, and an unidentifiable player dons a Native American headdress and costume. 

This is certainly the strangest piece we have ever offered, and our research has only turned up one additional example, which sold for just under $2,000 at auction 18 years ago.  The enormous size of the piece leads us to believe it was given to players for some reason though as of yet we are unable to tell you why, where, or even unequivocally when the photo was taken.  

Periodically, when hosting an auction that deals primarily with pre-WWII memorabilia, we invariably are tasked with dealing with issues of race.  Mostly, we feel those issues are positive, as they typically revolve around baseball, which was ahead of the country in its acceptance of African-American players, and our contemporary recognition of those pre-1947 players who were unable to play in the major leagues.  Writing favorably about such players is always enlightening and fun, and we relish the enthusiasm with which collectors chase those historical figures.

Occasionally, however, we're presented with a piece that is difficult to present in a positive light, but still maintains historical significance in the bigger picture.  Intended to be humorous, many of the costumes in this photo strike us as anything but, and makes us neither proud nor makes us laugh.  Still, the photo is an undeniable piece of early 20th Century baseball history, featuring three Hall of Famers (likely as never seen before), a remarkable photograph capturing a classic baseball team's misguided attempt at early 20th Century humor.

Incredible c. 1913 Philadelphia Athletics Oversized, Mounted Photograph - Entire Team In Costume!Incredible c. 1913 Philadelphia Athletics Oversized, Mounted Photograph - Entire Team In Costume!
Incredible c. 1913 Philadelphia Athletics Oversized, Mounted Photograph - Entire Team In Costume!
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Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1,500
Final prices include buyers premium.: $1,800
Number Bids: 2
Auction closed on Sunday, August 12, 2018.
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