Graded VG 40 by SGC. This extremely rare team cabinet card features cameo portraits of sixteen members of the 1894 National League Champion Baltimore Orioles: Ned Hanlon (Mgr.), John McGraw, Wee Willie Keeler, Hughie Jennings, Dan Brouthers, Wilbert Robinson, Kid Gleason, Steve Brodie, Boileryard Clarke, Joe Kelley, Heinie Reitz, Sadie McMahon, Bill Hawke, Duke Esper, Gorge Hemming, and Frank Bonner. Each player is pictured in formal attire, complete with boutonniere, and is identified in print below his image. Of special note is the fact that the portrait images used on this cabinet card are the very same as those that appear in the 1894 Baltimore Orioles Alpha Photo-Engraving card set. The photographer’s name and address (“Betz - 415 & 417 N. Washington St., Baltimore, Md.") are printed along the base of the mount. The year “1894” is displayed at the top as part of the photograph's elaborate design, which also includes a small American flag with a diagonal stripe reading "Champions."
The Orioles captured their first of three consecutive pennants in 1894. The team also won World Championships in 1896 and 1897, thus firmly establishing the Orioles as the top team of the decade. The Orioles, aside from their obvious talent on the field, are also remembered today for their fiery demeanor and, at times, their total disregard for the rules of the game. Led by future Hall of Famer John McGraw, the team adopted a “win at all costs” mentality that included tripping and holding opposing players as they ran the bases, spiking players, and hiding balls in the tall outfield grass on defense. Baseball-team cabinet cards from the 1890s are particularly rare, far more so than cabinets from the 1880s, and an example of the Baltimore Orioles is especially significant. The mounted photograph, which offers exceptional clarity and contrast, displays a few spots of foxing, but the central portrait images are free of any significant defects. The cabinet-card mount (4.25 x 6.5 inches) displays light edge and corner wear, foxing on both the front and reverse, and a small touch of paper loss in the center of the revers (mentioned for accuracy). This is an extremely impressive-looking and exceptionally rare team composite cabinet photograph of one of the greatest teams of the nineteenth century, a team for which very few cards of any kind exist. Reserve $2,000. Estimate (open).