Presented is an extraordinary example of one of the rarest and greatest prizes of all nineteenth-century card collecting: an 1887 N690-1 Kalamazoo Bats team cabinet card of the Detroit Wolverines, featuring fifteen players, including Hall of Famers Dan Brouthers, Ned Hanlon, Sam Thompson, and Deacon White, alongside manager W. H. Watkins. The offered example is of particular importance as it is, to this date, the only known example of Detroit in this large-format team cabinet-card style. It was entirely unknown until its presentation at public auction in 2007. (It was long suspected that all teams featured in the small Kalamazoo Bats team-card set would eventually appear in this large format.) We can count on one hand the number of Kalamazoo Bats team cabinet cards we have seen during the past forty years! They are virtually nonexistent! This is only the second Kalamazoo Bats team cabinet-card example we have ever offered (the first, a Philadelphia Nationals, graded FAIR 20 by SGC due to writing on the front, appeared as Lot #24 in REA's 2011 auction, realizing $15,275).
Kalamazoo Bats team cabinet cards are known to exist in two styles: 1) with no advertising on the mount, but with a small embossed "Chas. Gross & Co." stamp on the surface of the photograph (it is possible that these are proof cards of some type), and 2) with gilt-lettered advertising that prominently reads "Smoke Kalamazoo Bats" on the mount. The style with advertising (as is the case here) is a huge version of a smaller Kalamazoo bats team card, but with a black mount, and is by far the more desirable style. Kalamazoo Bats team cabinets are among the rarest of all nineteenth-century baseball cards. It is unknown exactly how they were issued. It is likely that they were issued by mail, perhaps in exchange for coupons, as this was the case for many other premiums available from Kalamazoo Bats and other tobacco companies in this era. Kalamazoo Bats are particularly noted for the distinctive style and quality of their images. The offered example presents with outstanding photo contrast and tremendous detail. Graded and encapsulated EX/NM 80 by SGC (submitted by REA), the card is essentially flawless, with just a hint of light touches of wear to the corners, no chipping to the delicate black mount, no creases, and a perfect photo. The blank reverse displays minor foxing and age spotting. This is an extraordinary and possibly unique Kalamazoo Bats team-card example featuring four Hall of Famers on one of the nineteenth century's rarest tobacco advertising cards. One of the best nineteenth-century cards we have ever had the privilege of offering, this 1887 Kalamazoo Bats Detroit B.B.C. team cabinet card would be a very significant highlight in even the most advanced world-class collection! From the Dan Gantt Collection. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open).