For Hall of Fame collectors, Frank Selee is a real dilemma. Managing just over 2,000 games with a winning percentage just shy of .600, his 1892 Boston Beaneaters was the first team to win 100 games, and he led his team to five championships in the 1890s. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1999, setting off a frenzy among collectors.
Frank Selee, it seems, has just one card.
Not one year in which he appeared on a card, mind you. He has just one card: the 1904 Allegheny Card Company card, a set in which there is only one known example of each card. The 1904 Allegheny card of Selee is the only card on which he appears, and there is only one known example of the card. If you're a Hall of Fame collector trying to complete a collection where you have one card image of each member of the Hall, for Selee, you've got to expand your horizons to multi-player, "pre-rookie" cards - and even then, your options are limited.
Presented here is one of them: an ultra-rare cabinet photo of the 1874 Oshkosh baseball club of the Northwestern League, of which Selee was the manager. In that capacity, he convinced club owners to sign future Hall of Famer Tommy McCarthy (who is not pictured on this cabinet, but who did play with the team that season). The cabinet features a photograph of what appears to be 14 cabinet-style photos set against a cloth background, with the photo surrounded by player identification and the team name and season. Although all four corners of the mount have been clipped, the studio identification is present at the lower right as "Ely," the same photographer responsible for another Oshkosh team cabinet that is known to the hobby.
This cabinet is the only example of this design we have encountered, each player pictured in uniform with Selee in street clothes and dapper top hat. The players identified include a number of eventual major leaguers, most notably William "Dummy" Hoy, a widely-collected player who was known for his deafness and for whom it is speculated that umpires invented the hand signals they use today. Other players pictured include W.B. Burdick, James Burns, James Cooney, John Doran, Earnest Ellis, Edward Gastfield, James Hiller, G.H. Krock, Thomas Nagle, P.H. O'Connell, W.J. Roche, and Taylor Shafer. Overall image quality is extremely strong, with some light staining and surface soiling on the mount. Tiny pinholes and the aforementioned corner clipping reduce the technical grade, but not the eye appeal of the piece.
An extraordinarily rare cabinet photo featuring an image of Hall of Fame manager Frank Selee, one of precious few pieces issued during his managing years that could qualify as a "card."