Rare 1886 Tomlinson’s Cabinet Cards Enter Hobby

1886 Tomlinson's Ned Hanlon A rare find of 1886 Detroit Wolverine Tomlinson cabinets has entered the hobby. The cards, featuring the National League Detroit club members, were issued by a local photographer, Frank N. Tomlinson.

The group of newly discovered cabinets were obtained from an elderly woman in the Midwest through a family friend. The woman had obtained the cards when her father died approximately ten years ago. She related that as a young boy, her father lived near Tiger Stadium ( then called Navin Field) and walked to many games. It is believed he obtained the cards early in life from a source somewhere near the ballpark and saved them.

The woman requested help identifying the cabinet cards through the trusted friend who began making inquiries on her behalf last April. The entire group of fifteen was finally sold this month for an undisclosed price. All parties requested anonymity.

Included in the find were previously unseen portraits of Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers and Deacon White. Other cards in the group included Thompson, Hanlon, Rowe, Richardson, Hall, Crane and Baldwin.

While all thirteen players on the team can be found in action poses, the portraits are less common with only five players and the manager cataloged to date. The cards are so rare that even such a small find significantly increases the known population of Tomlinson’s cabinets in the hobby.

Interestingly, the photos used for the set would later show up in several other 19th century baseball card issues including Old Judge, SF Hess, and Police Gazette.

Research indicates the Tomlinson portraits were originally taken in the spring of 1886 and sold through the studio and other local outlets.

The Tomlinson cabinet cards were previously detailed in an issue of Old Cardboard magazine entitled “Tomlinson Gallery: Photo Source for Early Detroit Baseball Cards” by Joe Gonsowski (Issue #13, Fall 2007).

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