Exceedingly rare CDV-style trade card of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball's first all-professional team, featuring advertising for "Chadwick's Base Ball Players' Book of Reference for 1869" on the reverse. While all 1869 Red Stockings trade cards are scarce, those featuring an advertisement for the 1869 Chadwick guide are seldom encountered. This is the first such example we have ever offered and we have seen only two others at auction in the past 20 years (the other known advertising back is for Peck & Snyder). What makes this particular back variety especially desirable is that it specifically advertises for Chadwick's 1869 guide, thereby guaranteeing that this card was issued in 1869. The offered card is also new to the hobby and was recently discovered in the Cincinnati area by a local collector.
If we had to make a list of the ten most important baseball cards of all time, it would be impossible to not have the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings trade card near the top of this short list. In addition to being one of card collecting's great rarities, it has a unique historical significance as it features the very first professional baseball team: the legendary 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. Led by Harry and George Wright, the Red Stockings toured the nation and went undefeated for ninety-two consecutive games. Because of their dominance, the team was a legend in its own day, though at the time, of course, no one could have imagined the impact they would have on the game. Just two years later the National Association, baseball's first all-professional league, was formed in large part because of the success of the Red Stockings. Shortly thereafter, in 1876, the National Association gave way to the National League and baseball officially became big business. By any definition, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings trade card is one of the earliest of all baseball cards, and one of the few collecting icons representing the birth of both professional baseball and the "baseball card." As noted, the offered example, which is new to the hobby, is especially noteworthy for its extremely rare and significant reverse advertising. In addition to the advertising, the text also features the Red Stockings team name and identifies each player pictured: G. Wright, H. Wright, Allison, Brainard, Gould, Waterman, Leonard, Sweasy, McVey, and Hurley.
There are several different styles of 1869 Red Stockings team cards known, all featuring the same photograph but displaying slightly different mounts. The smaller CDV style has been found with several different backs, but most are blank-backed. The examples with advertising for the 1869 Chadwick guide are not only the rarest, but also extremely desirable because their exact year of issue is known for certain (it is conceivable that other examples, with or without the Peck & Snyder advertising, might also date from 1870, when the club once again toured the country.) It is also important to note that the photo quality of 1869 Reds team cards is often very poor, and many times the contrast does not even allow for the reading of the "C" logos on players' shirts. The photo contrast on this example, while moderately light, still allows for all the "C" logos on the uniforms to be clearly seen with the naked eye. Furthermore, the advertising text on the reverse remains bold and legible. The card (3.75 x 2.5 inches) displays moderate toning, with tiny chips in both the upper and lower left corners (the chips only affect the mount, not the photo). A small amount of surface paper loss in the upper right corner of the reverse has obscured the the last three letters of "Club" in the caption "The Red Stockings B. B. Club." Encapsulated and graded PR 1 by PSA. Despite the obvious flaws, the card presents exceptionally well and would be an extremely important addition to any world-class historical baseball collection and a significant highlight in even the most advanced collection of nineteenth-century cards. Reserve $10,000. Estimate (open).