In the earliest days of the game, before television, and in many cases before baseball cards, woodcut player images from Harper's, Leslie's and the like represented the first opportunity for baseball fans to see graphical representations of professional ballplayers. Often, these woodcut images were the only time a fan would see and identify what some of the game's most famous players even looked like. Prior to the invention of printing methods that allowed for photography, wood engravings were the only way to produce images for magazines and books. Over the years, more than 30 baseball woodcuts appeared in the pages of Harper's, featuring some of the 19th Century's most famous players and teams. The beautiful artwork is an outstanding way to collect 19th Century memorabilia in a relatively affordable way, while building a collection of spectacular, display-worthy pieces. While assembling a collection of three or four is an easy endeavor, building a large collection becomes more difficult, as many of the woodcuts are difficult to find.
Presented here is the largest grouping of Harper's woodcuts we have ever offered. A total of 27 scenes, images or sections are represented, some containing multiple images. The collection includes the following:
"A Base-Ball Match at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken" - October 15, 1859.
"Base-Ball Match between the "Athletics" of Philadelphia, PA and the "Atlantics" of Brooklyn, NY" - October 30, 1865.
"'Champion Nine' of the Atlantic Base-Ball Club of Brooklyn, L.I." - November 25, 1865.
"The Champion Nine of the Union Base-Ball Club of Morrisania, New York" - October 26, 1867.
"The Atlantic Base-Ball Club of Brooklyn and the 'Athletic' of Philadelphia" - November 3, 1866.
"The Picked Nine of the 'Red Stocking' Base-Ball Club, Cincinnati, OH", July 3, 1869.
"International Base-Ball - the Philadelphia Athletics" - July 25, 1874.
"Base-Ball in England - the Match on Lord's Cricket Grounds Between the Red Stockings and the Athletics." September 5, 1874.
"The American Base-Ball Players in England - Match Between the Red Stockings and the Athletics, Prince's Ground, Brompton" - September 12, 1874.
"The Maple Leaf Base-Ball Club" - September 12, 1874.
"The Princeton College Base-Ball Nine" - May 14, 1881.
"The Metropolitan Base-Ball Nine" - August 5, 1882.
"Base-Ball at Blackville - the 'White Stockings' Against the 'Black Legs' - First Blood for the 'Black Legs'" - July 27, 1878.
"The Providence Base-Ball Club" - September 30, 1882.
"The Chicago Base-Ball Club" - October 14, 1882 (HOF).
"The Boston Base-Ball Club" - October 13, 1883.
"Champion Base-Ball Players" - May 16, 1885.
"Base-Ball on Skates" - January 26, 1884.
"The Chicago Base-Ball Club" - October 17, 1885.
"The New Grounds of the Metropolitan Base-Ball Club on Staten Island" - May 15, 1886.
"The Winning Battery of the New York Base-Ball Team" -October 20, 1888.
"Two Popular Players of the St. Louis Base-Ball Team" - October 27, 1888.
"The First League Game of Base-Ball of the Season" - Seldom-seen piece from April 27, 1889.
"William Ewing, Captain of the New York Base-Ball Club" - November 9, 1889 cover image.
"Opening of the Base-Ball Season of 1890" -May 3, 1890.
This is an outstanding collection of woodcuts, including several that are not frequently seen, the largest collection we have seen. It includes many Hall of Famers and staples of the era, an outstanding collection. Space restrictions prohibit us from describing each piece here, we invite you to peruse our blog for a more detailed description. 27 pieces total.