A collection of rare 19th century baseball cabinet cards has been uncovered, with provenance dating back to a player from the era.
Grey Flannel Auctions received the unique consignment of rare 1890 Waldon cabinets from the family of former baseball player Hardy Richardson.
Richardson himself appears on some 19th century baseball cards as his career spanned a total of 14 seasons with the Buffalo Bisons, Detroit Wolverines, Boston Beaneaters, Boston Reds, Washington Senators, and New York Giants. In addition to a career .299 batting average, Richardson was a top power hitter of his generation, twice leading the entire majors in home runs.
Descendants of Richardson consigned a total of 25 of the cabinets this month, including those picturing Hall of Famers Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn and John Clarkson. They are expected to appear in Grey Flannel’s spring auction. Currently, the cabinets are at PSA for grading and authentication.
Cabinet cards are generally photographs mounted onto a cardboard backing. These particular cabinets are believed to have been distributed by a Boston photographer named Waldon Smith. Smith’s cabinets, as you might expect, featured Boston players. They are identified as such with Smith’s name printed on them and are dated from the late 1880s to early 1890s. The cabinets measure approximately 4 1/2″ wide by 6 1/2″ tall.
The collection is sure to be a hit as 19th century baseball cabinets are not too common. A complete player list wasn’t available as of Wednesday and it’s possible some of the cards found may be the only known examples so determining what they will sell for is not an easy thing to do. However, a Waldon Radbourn cabinet sold in a 2017 REA auction for $9,000.
A gallery of some of the cards is below.