Photographer Carl Horner might be best known for taking the picture of Honus Wagner that became the world’s most expensive baseball card but that wasn’t the only Horner image to grace the T206 set. Another of those original images that became a card is on the block through RMY Auctions.
A silver gelatin portrait of Chicago White Sox pitching ace Ed Walsh in uniform during his 1904 rookie season, is among the star attractions in RMY’s Premier Auction, which runs through March 10. It’s the first time the photo has ever been offered at public auction.
Taken off a Horner negative, the 2 ¾” x 4” photo was originally turned into a cabinet photo and sent to the Cleveland Plain Dealer as part of an agreement that gave the newspaper access to player photos. The Plain Dealer used numerous Horner cabinet photos between 1902 and 1920. The cardboard backings were removed at some point, likely as a space-saving measure. Remnants of the original Horner cabinet remain on the back and it was at one point in time painted on the upper right corner for a story (probably about the 1906 World Series) but the figure of Walsh remains clear enough to see individual hairs on Walsh’s head when placed under magnification.
While the photo is considered the most famous image of Walsh ever taken and has been reproduced for print on many occasions, only a handful of originals from the negative have survived.
During the T206 era, Walsh was a pitching superstar. From 1906-1912, he averaged 24 wins and 220 strikeouts per season for the Sox. His earned run average was below 2.00 in five of those six years. In 1908, the year before T206 cards were placed into packs of cigarettes, Walsh went 10-15 with 269 strikeouts and a 1.42 ERA.
The photo is one of hundreds being offered for auction in the RMY online catalog.