Graded EX 60 by SGC. Extraordinary high-grade example of one of the rarest of all nineteenth-century baseball card issues: the 1889 Police Gazette cabinet card series. Few cards, nineteenth-century or otherwise, can compare with the extreme rarity of this set. It is likely that fewer than fifty examples in total are known to exist. To date, only twenty-three cards have been graded by SGC (PSA has not graded a single baseball example). The offered card features Brooklyn's star pitcher Billy "Adonis" Terry dressed in street clothes. This card originally appeared as lot #105 in REA's 2007 auction (realizing $11,750), at which time it was a newly discovered specimen that had previously never even been cataloged! For many years, the exact method of issue of this set was unknown. The prevailing theory was that they were most likely issued as premiums by Police Gazette in 1889. The Police Gazette, one of the most prominent of all weekly periodicals of the era, provided in depth coverage of professional baseball. In 2014, a newly discovered John Ward example, found with the original mailing envelope (the first we have ever seen or heard of existing), confirmed this theory! Printed on the back of the envelope was an advertisement billing "Police Gazette Cabinet Photographs" at a cost of ten cents each as well as advertising for a "Catalogue of Police Gazette Books and Photographs." Advertisements for these cabinet photos likely ran in the periodical and interested parties could send away for the cabinets or books they desired.
Bill "Adonis" Terry is not a Hall of Famer, but he is one of the most outstanding of all nineteenth-century non-Hall of Famers and many historians feel he is worthy of consideration. He was without question one of the most prominent stars of the era. He was also the first pitcher in Dodger history. Terry led the Brooklyn Grays to the Interstate Championship in 1883. Following this success, the team was admitted to the Major Leagues in 1884, and Adonis Terry became the first pitcher in the franchise's history. Over the next thirteen seasons, Terry recorded 197 wins and had four 20-win seasons. He also has the distinction of having two no-hit games. He no-hit St. Louis in 1886 and Louisville in 1888, both while pitching for Brooklyn. His 22-15 record led Brooklyn to the American Association Championship in 1889. In 1890 he jumped to the Players League and enjoyed his finest season ever, compiling a 26-16 record. Terry was one of the few star pitchers who was known for his hitting and also played other positions, including occasionally playing first base, shortstop, third base, and, over the course of his career, 216 games in the outfield. He also umpired as an active player and in his post-playing career. One cannot profile Billy Terry, however, without making special note of his great popularity as one of the game's most handsome stars. His true full name was William H. Terry, but he was universally known as "Adonis" Terry. According to baseballlibrary.com, "Handsome Adonis Terry brought more women to the ballpark than free admission on Ladies' Day." The image on this card is very bold, with flawless clarity and contrast. This is a spectacular example. Very bright, crisp, and clean, both front and back. The mount has the gilt-embossed imprint "Richard K. Fox - Publisher of the Police Gazette, Franklin Square, New York." The mount has only the lightest edge and corner wear. This is an exceptional sample of one of the nineteenth century's most elusive and highly regarded issues. In Excellent condition. From the Dan Gantt Collection. Reserve $5,000. Estimate (open).