Extremely rare and possibly unique example of Hall of Famer Mickey Welch from one of the rarest of all nineteenth-century baseball-card issues: the 1889 Police Gazette cabinet-card series. This card was originally part of a substantial find of several nineteenth-century baseball cabinet cards in 2009, at which time it was a newly discovered specimen that had previously never been seen! Few cards, nineteenth century or otherwise, can compare with the extreme rarity of this set. This is one of only four Police Gazette cabinet Hall of Famer cards we have even seen in our many years (REA's 2009 auction featured examples of Tim Keefe and Sam Thompson, and our 2014 auction featured John Ward). Fewer than fifty Police Gazette examples in total are known to exist from this set. 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. The original mailing envelopes (REA offered an example in 2014) confirm this theory. Printed on the back of the envelopes is 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. The formal studio photo features New York Giants Hall of Famer Mickey Welch (identified as Mickey Welsh on the card) in a portrait pose. This image of Welch is the same one used for a few of his nineteenth-century cards including E223 G & B Chewing Gum, N167 Old Judge, Four Base Hits, and N403 Yum Yum cards.
This is an outstanding and extremely striking cabinet card. The image on the photo is very bold, with virtually flawless clarity and contrast. Bright and crisp, both front and back, with a near-flawless black mount (light wear on the upper left corner), which bears the gilt-embossed imprint "Richard K. Fox - Publisher of the Police Gazette, Franklin Square, New York." There are what appears to be two repaired tack holes on the right border. The best way to describe it is when the cabinet was once tacked to a wall someone pulled it off the tacks in a downward motion. Both are of no consequence and mentioned strictly for accuracy. The blank reverse bears a small ink stamp ("Burt Kurtz") and a light surface scratch across the top portion of the card, but otherwise is entirely clean, which is extremely rare to see on nineteenth-century cards as they are often found with album residue or paper loss. Outstanding overall Excellent appearance. This is an exceptional Hall of Famer example, once part of an extraordinary find, from one of the nineteenth century's most elusive and highly regarded issues. Reserve $8,000. Estimate (open).